Peter Sculthorpe: The Making of an Australian Composer by Graeme Skinner

By Graeme Skinner

Peter Sculthorpe, who died in 2014, is still Australia’s best-known composer and is broadly held to be an important artistic musical spirit the rustic has produced. fantastically written and rigorously researched, this licensed biography offers an perception into Sculthorpe’s formation years: his quest for private voice, and his arrival – via many inventive friendships and collaborations – at a spot within the collective middle of the nation.

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Extra resources for Peter Sculthorpe: The Making of an Australian Composer

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He was finally invalided out on another converted liner, the Khyber, leaving Liverpool for the second time in his short life, on 31 March. The first the Moorhouses knew of this repatriation came in a telegram on 25 April, the new Anzac Day. Tom was ferried back from Melbourne on 23 May. He was declared fit and discharged at Hobart’s Anglesea Barracks on 7 June: tour of duty, 11 months and 4 days. Tom collected his British Service Medal, went back to work as a plumber, marched occasionally on Anzac Day, and married, unusually late for a Launceston lad, in his early thirties.

Just as I started researching this book in mid-1998, Germaine Greer memorably described biographers as ‘flesh-eating bacteria’ who should ‘sod off, get an honest job’. 15 But Sculthorpe, who has always been perfectly good at reinventing himself, has never shown much inclination of wanting to protect his story from another’s telling. 16 Nevertheless, drawing the line on Sculthorpe’s career for the moment at 1974, also, I believe, freed me to approach the subject with a degree of historical detachment not always possible in biographies of the living.

And that, in the 1939 Launceston Competitions, visiting adjudicator Thorold Waters awarded him 79 points and second prize in the ‘piano solo, under 11 years’ for playing Felix Swinstead’s The Jolly Roger (the music also digitised at TROVE). Such, anyway, are a few more earlier ‘makings’ of a great Australian composer. Foreword Late in the night during his forty-fifth birthday party in 1974, Peter Sculthorpe, ‘much the worse for wear … broke down, saying he was a failure, and that he’d achieved nothing’.

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