Born in Launceston in 1929, Peter Sculthorpe was educated at the University of Melbourne, and Wadham College, Oxford. He is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney, where he began teaching in 1964. He was been a a visiting fellow at Yale University, USA, and Sussex University, UK, and has taught at universities within and outside Australia. He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Tasmania, Melbourne, Sussex and Griffith. An Officer of both the Order of Australia and of the British Empire, in 1998 he was elected a National Trust of Australia Living National Treasure. In 2002, he was elected to Foreign Honorary Membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Peter Sculthorpe has written works in most musical forms. His output relates closely to the social and physical climate of Australia, and the cultures of the Pacific Basin. He was influenced by the music of Asia, especially during the 1960s by that of Japan and Indonesia. In recent years he has become more deeply influenced by the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island music and culture.
Sculthorpe’s work is the subject of four books, Michael Hannan’s Peter Sculthorpe: His Music and Ideas 1929 – 1979 (1982), Deborah Hayes’s Peter Sculthorpe: A Bio-Bibliography (1993), and the composer’s own memore Sun Music: Journeys and Reflections from a Composer’s Life (1999). Graeme Skinner’s authorised biography, Peter Sculthorpe: The Making of an Australian Composer, covering the years 1929 to 1974, was published in 2007.
Sculthorpe celebrated his 80th birthday in 2009