Friday, 8 August 2014


“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” - George S. Patton

Today I woke up to the sad news of Peter Sculthorpe’s death. Peter Joshua Sculthorpe AO OBE (29 April 1929 – 8 August 2014) was an Australian composer. Much of his music resulted from an interest in the music of Australia’s neighbours as well as from the impulse to bring together aspects of native Australian music with that of the heritage of the West.

He was known primarily for his orchestral and chamber music, such as ‘Kakadu’ (1988) and ‘Earth Cry’ (1986), which evoke the sounds and feeling of the Australian bushland and outback. He also wrote 17 string quartets, using unusual timbral effects, works for piano, and two operas. He stated that he wanted his music to make people feel better and happier for having listened to it. He typically avoided the dense, atonal techniques of many of his contemporary composers. His work was often distinguished by its distinctive use of percussion.

Here, appropriately is his 'Memento Mori' (1993) for Orchestra, performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Judd.
“It is a piece imbued with a religious aura, rooted in a particular landscape. barren, mysterious Easter Island, with its enormous, brooding, enigmatic statues. And it is full of tunes, most notably the ancient plainchant Dies irae, which has been used by many classical composers but seldom with the blend of reverence and coloristic effectiveness Sculthorpe has achieved. It was marvellously effective music, innovative in sound but listener friendly.” - Joseph McLellan, The Washington Post

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