Composer of the Month: Peter Sculthorpe

Peter Sculthorpe by Eric Smith 1982

CAM will feature Mountains by Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe as part of the Australia in Oxford concert at Wolfson College on 11 May.

He was born in 1929-2014 in Launceston, Tasmania. His catalogue consists of more than 350 works, two of which have been featured in past CAM concerts: Piano Sonatina in 2017, and Tailitnama Song in 2017 and 2022.

Sculthorpe wrote in most musical forms, and almost all his works are influenced by the social climate and physical characteristics of Australia. In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island music and the gamelan music of Indonesia were significant influences upon his musical language.

Peter Sculthorpe

He had a deep love for his country and for its landscape, which he regarded as sacred. One of the most constant themes in his output was the protection of Australia’s environment, as well as that of the whole planet. 

Sculthorpe was Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney, where he began teaching in 1963 and where one of his students included Wendy Hiscocks. Peter also held honorary doctorates from Tasmania, Melbourne, Sussex, Griffith and Sydney.

In 1977 he was awarded an OBE as well as being the recipient of a Silver Jubilee Medal. He was appointed AO in 1990 and was declared an Australian National Living Treasure in 1997.

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