Peter Sculthorpe, a composer who infused the western classical tradition with the indigenous sounds and ambience of his native Tasmania, has died at the age of 85.
Sculthorpe’s international breakthrough came with the first Kronos Quartet album, which placed his eighth string quartet beside works by Philip Glass, Conlon Nancarrow, Aulis Sallinen and Jimi Hendrix. He wrote 18 quartets, all told, and a Sun Music series that is regularly performed.
His distinctive sound was nurtured at Oxford University, where he studied with the Viennese exile, Egon Wellesz. He returned to Australia in 1961, defining the musical language of his country as Patrick white did its literature and Sydney Nolan its art.
He died this morning at Wolper Jewish Hospital in Woollahra.