Pieces such as the 1960s series Irkanda - “scrub country’ and Kakadu (1988) established him as the country’s leading painter of landscapes in sound. The vastness and silence of the outback, or the thronging of Australia’s wetlands, became his primary influences. He, in turn, became an environmental activist, contrasting the aboriginal peoples’ sense of being part of nature with the negative impact wrought by the arrival of Europeans.
He worked closely with aboriginal musicians, most notably didjeridu virtuoso William Barton, for whom he wrote Earth Cry, a piece that exploits traditional imitative music to invoke the sounds of wildlife such as magpie geese.
Peter Sculthorpe's Jabiru Dreaming - third sonata for strings, will be toured in the UK as part of a concert by the Scottish Ensemble between 26 and 30 August. One of many pieces influenced by his visits to Kakadu, "it contains rhythmic patterns found in the tribal music of the Kakadu area. Some of these patterns also suggest the gait of the jabiru, a species of stork". See What's On for details.
Peter Sculthorpe b. Launceston, Tasmania 29 April1929; d. Sydney 8 August 2014