I’d owned this book for a while but it took Sculthorpe’s recent death to spur me towards it. It was always my intention to read it, but I suppose now is as fitting a time as any, given the amount of obituaries and memorials which have been printed of late.
The work is interesting, though the product of later-life reflection rather than at-the-time recollection. It definitely helps to be aware of musical form and conventions, and reading stave better than I do would bring more enjoyment from the musical excerpts printed throughout the text. It’s pleasingly broken into sections detailing either parts of Sculthorpe’s life (youth, schooling) or musical development (Bali, Japan, Kakadu) and it’s the latter which prove most interesting. The development of Sculthorpe’s language, especially in early years is interesting, as is his move to synthesise Australian and Asian ideas and music into a music of this land.
He’s described somewhere as doing for Australia what Copland did for parts of the US, something not too far from the mark, I think. But I must admit (more…)