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Video Clip Synopsis:
Peter Sculthorpe wants to create a perfect work of art. He created “Irkanda One for Violin” by tracing the landscape around Canberra on a 360 degree graph, then wrote music to follow the contours.

1min 53sec

Peter Sculthorpe Composes consists of excerpts from the program Peter Sculthorpe (26 mins), an episode of Australian Biography Series 7 (7 x 26 mins), produced in 1999.

Peter Sculthorpe: In this interview composer Peter Sculthorpe describes the way in which Australian history and landscape have influenced him and tells of the emotionally significant events in his life which have found expression in his music. He also explains, with warmth and eloquence, the nature of his endless journey to try to create the perfect work of art, a journey that continues to motivate his work today.

Australian Biography Series 7: The Australian Biography series profiles some of the most extraordinary Australians of our time. Many have had a major impact on the nation’s cultural, political and social life. All are remarkable and inspiring people who have reached a stage in their lives where they can look back and reflect. Through revealing in-depth interviews, they share their stories - of beginnings and challenges, landmarks and turning points. In so doing, they provide us with an invaluable archival record and a unique perspective on the roads we, as a country, have travelled.

Australian Biography Series 7 is a Film Australia National Interest Program.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: English
Year: 9-10
Theme: Artists at Work

Key Concepts

Art; Creativity; Achievement; ‘National Living Treasures’

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Everyday texts – Language: Contextual understanding
NSW:(1997 Syllabus) C5 Mass media
(2003 Syllabus) Stage 5 Outcome 4
NT:R/V 5.1 – 5.3
R/V 5+.1-5+.3
Qld:Cr 6.2
SA:Texts and contexts 5.3
Tas:Communicating – Being literate, Standard 4
Vic:Reading – Texts 6.6
WA:Understanding Language
Attitudes, values and beliefs

Context / Background Information

Born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1929, Peter Sculthorpe was educated at Launceston Church Grammar School, at the University of Melbourne and at Wadham College, Oxford. He has worked internationally as a composer in academic institutions and has received many high Australian honours.

Peter Sculthorpe has written works in most musical forms, and his output relates easily to the unique social climate and physical characteristics of Australia. He is Australia's best-known classical composer, and his works are regularly performed and recorded throughout the world.

Sculthorpe's most recent major work, Requiem, involving chorus, orchestra and solo didgeridoo, received its premiere performance in March 2004 during the Adelaide Festival.

In 1998 a popular vote elected him one of Australia's 100 Living National Treasures. In 1999 he was made one of Australia's 45 icons—'a visionary, an opinion maker, one who is making statements about something the nation needs to think about at this time.'

Discussion Pointers

  1. What does the video clip show?
  2. What impressions do you get of Peter Sculthorpe?
  3. What does the video clip tell you about creativity?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Peter Sculthorpe is a ‘Living National Treasure’. What do you think that means?
  2. Is it a good thing for a nation to chose its Living National Treasures?
  3. Who would you make a Living National Treasure if you had the chance? Justify your choice.
  4. Research the actual list. What does it tell you about Australia?

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 9-10, The Arts Year 9-10, English Year 11-12