26. Peter Sculthorpe [365 Composers for 2013]


26th January – Peter Sculthorpe


Sculthorpe (born 29th April 1929) is our composer for 26th January, to celebrate Australia Day
Nationality: Australian
Lifespan: Still alive
Genre: Modern, Nationalism
Education: The University of Melbourne and Wadham College, Oxford
Fame Ranking: 5

In 1997, Sculthorpe was picked as one of Australia’s “100 Living National Treasures, and in 2006 he was listed as one of the “100 Most Influential Australians” (1), but you would be forgiven for not having heard of him if you are not Australian. He has composed more than 350 pieces and his music is regularly performed and recorded in Australia – and is gaining recognition in the rest of the world.

Sculthorpe is passionate about Australia, humanity and the environment. His music reflects his homeland in a multitude of ways – he is not only deeply inspired by its physical landscape (and, in fact, that of the natural world in general), but also influenced by the indigenous musical language around him. Aspects of Aboriginal music, as well as of  Indonesian gamelan music (which is an ensemble of mainly bronze percussion instruments), can be found in his compositions. Other works have explored human rights, such as his “Requiem” which came about as an expression of the suffering of the women and children who have died in Iraq. The “Requiem” contains a solo part for didgeridoo, Australia’s most famous musical instrument.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Sculthorpe’s music is relatively tonal and he has made clear his wish that his music is accessible and enjoyable for people.

Here is Sculthorpe’s “Earth Cry”, for Didgeridoo and Orchestra

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Listen to more works by Sculthorpe – click the box!


(1) “The Bulletin” magazine


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