Peter Sculthorpe

Peter Joshua Sculthorpe (b 1929), composer, was raised in Launceston and studied at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium and at Wadham College, Oxford. He first came to critical notice at the Australian Composers' Seminar in Hobart in 1963, and was appointed lecturer at the University of Sydney (since 1991, professor, personal chair). His Sun music series was choreographed by Robert Helpmann for the Australian Ballet. Rooted in classic forms, his output relates to the Australian social climate and physical characteristics, and is inspired by Aboriginal and Pacific Rim music.

Sculthorpe is arguably the most significant contemporary Australian composer, his work is widely performed and recorded, and he regularly receives commissions from overseas performing groups. He is the recipient of many awards, including election in 1998 as an Australian Living National Treasure.

Further reading: W Bebbington (ed), The Oxford companion to Australian music, Melbourne, 1997; and A dictionary of Australian music, Melbourne, 1998.

Wendy Rimon