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 a Harkness Fellow at Yale University, USA, in 1966, and a visiting professor at Sussex University, UK, in 1971-72. He has taught at universities within and outside Australia, and he holds honorary doctorates from Tasmania, Melbourne, Sussex and Griffith. An Officer of both the Order of Australia and of the British Empire, in 1998 he was elected one of the National Trust of Australia's Living National Treasures. 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 - especially orchestral, chamber, and instrumental - and his output relates closely to the unique social climate and physical characteristics of Australia, and to the cultures of its Pacific Basin neighbours. His geographical outlook as an Australian caused him to be influenced by much of the music of Asia, especially during the 1960s by that of Japan and Indonesia. In recent years his music has become more deeply influenced by the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island music and culture in which he has taken a lifelong interest.
Sculthorpe, who celebrated his 80th birthday in 2009, is currently working on several major commissions, including his eighteenth string quartet for the 2010 Edinburgh Festival.