Entertainment Music Classical composer Peter Sculthorpe dies

Classical composer Peter Sculthorpe dies

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Classical composer Peter Sculthorpe has been lauded as a musical giant following his death.

The 85-year-old died in Sydney on Friday morning after a long illness.

Over six decades of a rich musical career, Sculthorpe changed Australia’s music landscape forever.

Born in Tasmania, he studied in post-war London before returning to Australia, joining the University of Sydney’s music department in 1963.

“He was an outstanding composer and a delightful man, who has built the music foundations of this university over several decades,” vice-chancellor Michael Spence said.

“Professor Sculthorpe is such a huge loss, but at the same time he leaves such a big music legacy.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and federal Arts Minister George Brandis said Australia had lost a “musical giant”.

“Peter Sculthorpe sought to render into music the earth, sea, sky and history of our country,” they said.

“Our country is forever richer because of him.”

They singled out Sculthorpe’s Sun Music series of compositions from the 1960s as “the dawning of the first identifiably Australian sound in classical music”.

Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten said the composer was a fantastic ambassador for the northern Tasmania city throughout his life.

“His works as a composer have been lauded around the globe, and he was always proud of his association with Launceston,” Cr van Zetten said.

Sculthorpe’s catalogue consists of more than 350 pieces ranging from solos to orchestral works and opera.

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1977 and an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1990.

The National Trust named Sculthorpe one of its living national treasures in 1997.