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Composer’s distinctive voice took Australian music to the world

Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe has passed away after a long illness. He was 85.

Dr Sculthorpe was born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1929. He attended Launceston Church Grammar School, The University of Melbourne and Wadham College. His distinguished career extended to working with generations of Australian composers in a succession of academic positions around the world, including Yale University, Sussex University, and, in particular, his longstanding professorship at the University of Sydney.

Dr Sculthorpe’s works evoke his passion for the Australian landscape and its proximity to Asia. His commitment to human rights is evident in such works as Requiem (2003) and String Quartet no. 16 (2006). His is perhaps best known for the orchestral work Sun Music (1965), which searched for an idiomatically Australian sound, in particular its vast open spaces.

He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1977 and Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1990. He was chosen as one of Australia’s 100 Living Treasures  in 1997, Honorary Foreign Life Member (American Academy of Arts and Letters) in 2003 and holds many international honorary doctorates.

Dr Sculthorpe was awarded the Australia Council Don Banks Music Award in 2007.

Australia Council Chief Executive Officer, Tony Grybowski, has paid tribute to Dr Sculthorpe.

Peter Sculthorpe took Australian music to the world. His work speaks to an identity formed by its relationship to Australian and Indigenous culture, identity and place.”

The Australia Council extends its deepest condolences to Dr Sculthorpe’s family, friends and colleagues.

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