Obituary: Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe, 85

Posted on: August 12, 2014

Appearing Monday (8/11) in The Daily Telegraph (London) is an unsigned obituary on Peter Sculthorpe, who died August 8 at the age of 85. Sculthorpe “was the first truly Australian composer, creating a distinct identity for Antipodean composition and pioneering the use of Aboriginal music in the concert hall.” He was the first Australian composer to “capture the mood of the Outback, creating a style that proclaimed the sounds of his homeland rather than those of his training…. European musical styles were simply reworking the past, he insisted.… Instead he sought out the abstract, explaining once how he composed by drawing boxes on the sheet music and then connecting them, occasionally dropping in sounds that evoked Australian birds, animals or scenery. His slow, dissonant and often barely changing music captured the social and physical climate of his country, while his international recognition helped to create a sense of musical identity for his fellow Australians. Along the way he incorporated the sounds of the didgeridoo, the wind instrument developed by indigenous Australians around 1,500 years ago.” Sculthorpe began composing at the age of nine, studied at the Melbourne Conservatorium and Oxford University, and taught composition at the University of Sydney.

Posted August 12, 2014