Spanning over 50 years, MS 9676 is an extensive collection that documents fully Peter Sculthorpe's career as Australia's most distinguished composer. Commencing with early newspaper cuttings and other items about himself, Sculthorpe has amassed a large archive of papers relating to all aspects of his career. The papers comprise correspondence, music scores, subject files, writings by and about Sculthorpe, programs, reviews, financial records, general administrative papers and photographs.
The correspondence and music scores are particular strengths of the collection. Apart from general correspondence, there is correspondence with family, including early letters written by Sculthorpe to his mother, with other composers, writers and artists and with Faber Music. As well as reflecting the mutual encouragement and discussion that takes place between Sculthorpe and other artists, the correspondence provides an insight into the role of music publishing in the composition process. Correspondents include Don Banks, Barbara Blackman, Ann Boyd, Benjamin Britten, Frank Callaway, Stuart Challender, Manning Clark, Roger Covell, Russell Drysdale, Ross Edwards, Robert Helpmann, Bernard Heinze, Wilfrid Mellers, Randolph Stow, Margaret Sutherland, Peggy van Praagh, Patrick White, Michael Wilding, John Williams and Roger Woodward (96 boxes, 19 fol. boxes).
The Acc07.143 instalment comprises pencil, proof and published music scores. It includes works hitherto missing from the W001-W305 series, belonging to Series 9 held at MS 9676 (2 fol. boxes).
Composer and academic. Peter Joshua Sculthorpe was born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1929. He attended Launceston Church Grammar School and graduated with a Bachelor of Music in piano from the University of Melbourne in 1950. Following postdoctoral studies at Oxford, Sculthorpe returned to Australia in 1960 and in 1964 became a lecturer in music at the University of Sydney where he has since been appointed emeritus professor. He has written for the full range of musical genres, including works for orchestra, string quartet, solo instrument, voice and choir, film, ballet, theatre and opera. Sculthorpe’s music has a strong sense of his Australian identity including his appreciation of the heritage of indigenous Australians, and has also been influenced by Japanese and Indonesian music.
His works include Irkanda IV (1961), Sun music III (1967), Port Essington (1977), Burke and Wills (1985), Earth cry (1986) and Kakadu (1988). Sculthorpe has been honoured with many awards and prizes, including an MBE (1970) and an OBE (1977). In 1990, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and in 1997 named one of Australia’s 100 Living National Treasures. In 2002, he became one of only four Australians to be made a life member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 2007 he received the Australia Council’s Don Banks Music Award for his outstanding and sustained contribution to Australian music. Sculthorpe's autobiography, Sun music: journeys and reflections from a composer's life was published in 1999.