29 April 1929
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
8 August 2014 (aged 85)
Peter Sculthorpe (April 29, 1929 - August 8th, 2014) is a noted Australian composer from Launceston, Tasmania. He is known primarily for his orchestral and chamber music, such as Kakadu (1988) and Earth Cry (1992), which evoke the sounds and feeling of the Australian bushland and outback. He has also written several string quartets, using unusual timbre effects, and works for piano.
Sculthorpe's catalogue consists of more than three hundred and fifty works and, apart from juvenilia, a good part of it is regularly performed and recorded throughout the world. The composer has written in most musical forms and almost all his works are influenced by the social climate and physical characteristics of Australia. Furthermore, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island music, and the gamelan music of Indonesia, have been significant influences upon his musical language.
Sculthorpe has a deep love for his country and for its landscape, which he regards as sacred. Because of this, one of the most constant themes in his output is the protection of Australia's environment, as well as that of the whole planet. His preoccupation with the frailty of the human condition can be found in works such as the choral Requiem (2004) and String Quartet No.16 (2006). The former grew from his concern about women and children being killed in the war in Iraq, the latter from the plight of people in detention.
The recipient of many awards, Sculthorpe regards the most important as being chosen as one of Australia's 100 Living National Treasures (National Trust of Australia, 1997), Distinguished Artist 2001 (International Society for the Performing Arts), Honorary Foreign Life Member (American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2003) and one of the 100 Most Influential Australians (The Bulletin magazine, 2006).
Peter Sculthorpe is a represented composer of the Australian Music Centre.
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