Peter Sculthorpe, photographed by Bridget Elliot, 2008. Bridget Elliot 2008. All rights reserved.

Born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1929, Sculthorpe was educated at Launceston Church Grammar School, the University of Melbourne, and Wadham College, Oxford. He was Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney, where he began teaching in 1964, a Harkness Fellow at Yale University, USA, and a visiting professor at Sussex University, UK, in 1971-72.

Sculthorpe's rich and varied compositions (including an astonishing eighteen string quartets) are regularly performed and recorded throughout the world. His preoccupation with Australian landscape, environmental issues and the frailty of the human condition can be heard in works such as Earth Cry (1986) and Requiem (2003). The latter grew from his concern about women and children killed in the war in Iraq. While his String Quartet No. 16 (2006) addressed the plight of asylum-seekers in Australia detention centres, his String Quartet No. 18 (2010) was devoted to climate change. His output relates closely to the unique social and physical characteristics of Australia, and to the cultures of its Pacific Basin neighbours. Influences included much of the music of Asia - especially that of Japan and Indonesia - and, later, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island music and culture.

Appointed OBE in 1977 and AO in 1990, Sculthorpe was elected one of Australia's National Living Treasures in 1998 and was recipient of a Silver Jubilee Medal. An Honorary Foreign Life Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he held honorary doctorates from the universities of Tasmania, Melbourne, Sussex, Griffith and Sydney and in 2011 was awarded the Encomienda de la Orden de Isabel la Católica by Juan Carlos I of Spain. Sculthorpe died in 2014.

Select List of Major Compositions


Some of the heartfelt and moving tributes that followed Peter Sculthorpe's passing in 2014.

Classic FM 8/08/2014: Vale Peter Sculthorpe, Stephen Adams
Classic FM 8/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - 2014), John Crawford
The Music Show, Radio National, 9/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe In Memoriam
ABC News 9/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe: Prolific Australian composer dies aged 85
ABC Canberra, 12/08/2014: The life, love and legacy of Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - 2014)

ArtsHub, 9/08/2014: Composer Peter Sculthorpe dies aged 85

The Australian
8/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe, composer of Kakadu and Earth Cry, dies, aged 85, Matthew Westwood
9/08/2014: Music world mourns loss of a great composer, Matthew Westwood
11/08/2014: Assured traveller whose music echoed our land, Vincent Plush
11/08/2014: Much-loved composer lifted the human spirit, Philip Jones

Australian Chamber Orchestra, 11/08/2014: Vale Peter Sculthorpe

Australian Major Performing Arts Group, 11/08/2014: MPAs mourn Sculthorpe but celebrate his legacy

Australian Music Centre
8/08/2014: Vale Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014)
10/08/2014-20/08/2014: Tributes for Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014)
19/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe: a reflection on his music and its context, John Peterson

BBC, 8/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe, Australian composer, dies aged 85 (BBC Music Magazine)
8/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014)
11/08/2014: Music That Changed Me: Peter Sculthorpe

The Conversation
9/08/2014: A wonderful musical legacy: Peter Sculthorpe remembered, Stuart Greenbaum
15/08/2014: Sculthorpe shaped composers with a connection to this land, Sally Macarthur

Ross Edwards, 11/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe (1929–2014)

Faber Music, 8/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014) (Aug 8, 2014)

The Guardian , 14/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe obituary, David Matthews

The Herald Scotland, 21/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe

The Independent, 18/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe: Composer who drew on aboriginal and Asian traditions to forge a distinctive Australian sound

Inside Story, 11/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe, a composer in Australia, Andrew Ford

Kronos Quartet, 8/08/2014: Kronos Quartet’s David Harrington Remembers Peter Sculthorpe

Launceston City Council, 8/08/2014: Vale Peter Sculthorpe

Limelight Magazine
8/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe has died
8/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe: The Sound Of Home, Julian Day
9/08/2014: Sculthorpe farewelled in style by Sydney Symphony Orchestra
20/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe: In Memoriam – a student remembers, Paul Saintilan

The Mercury, 9/08/2014: Internationally renowned Tasmanian composer Peter Sculthorpe dies, aged 85

Musica Viva Australia Blog, 15/08/2014: Tim Matthies Remembers Peter Sculthorpe

National Film and Sound Archive, 14/08/2014: Vale Peter Sculthorpe, Jenny Gall, 8/08/2014: Australian classical composer Peter Sculthorpe has died, aged 85

The New Yorker, 8/08/2014: Postscript: Peter Sculthorpe (1929–2014), Teju Cole

Sydney Conservatorium, The University of Sydney, 8/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe 1929-2014

Sydney Morning Herald
8/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe: Notes on a life, Amanda Hooton
8/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe's musical legacy a lonely charm, Peter McCallum
9/08/2014: Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe has died aged 85
10/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe: Composer with a unique talent
10/08/2014: Friends reflect on Peter Sculthorpe's final days
15/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe: Turning the soil into sound, Chris Latham
SMH, photo gallery: Peter Sculthorpe remembered

The Telegraph (UK)
8/08/2014: Death of the doyen of Australian music: Peter Sculthorpe 1929-2014, Michael White
10/08/2014: Peter Sculthorpe – obituary

The West Australian, 8/08/2014: 'Voice of Australia' Sculthorpe dies

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