Internationally renowned Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe, whose work was shaped by his love of the Australian landscape, has died aged 85.
The Launceston-born composer passed away at Wolper Jewish Hospital in Sydney after a long illness.
Sculthorpe's best-known achievement was his capacity to bring to Australians a sense of their land and history in the music of one of their own.
His many remarkable compositions were strongly influenced by Asian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music, and centred around his deep love for Australia and its landscape.
Like so many other brilliant composers throughout history, Sculthorpe began composing music at a very young age.
In a 1999 interview he recalled being scolded by his first piano teacher when aged seven, for writing music.
"She said all the composers are dead and ... she caned me across the knuckles and told me I should be practicing music," he said.
"I kept writing music for a year or two, but under the bed clothes at night with a torch, until my parents discovered me and they said, 'That's all right'."
He went on to write in most musical forms, especially orchestral, chamber and instrumental, influenced by his love of Australia's natural landscape and by his regard for Indigenous music.
"While on the surface it might appear to be painting a picture, I mean what I'm really doing ... is seeking the sacred in nature," he said.Tributes flow for great Tasmanian
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Minister for the Arts George Brandis have praised a composer who "changed the country's music landscape forever".
"Today, Australia lost a musical giant ... Peter Sculthorpe much deepened Australia's musical voice and our country is forever richer because of him," they said in a joint statement.
Tasmania's Minister for the Arts Vanessa Goodwin said: "On behalf of all Tasmanians, I pay tribute to a great Tasmanian and Australian. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and friends."
The University of Sydney, where Sculthorpe was an Emeritus Professor, hailed a man who "was instrumental in defining Australian classical music in this country".
"He was an outstanding composer and a delightful man," said Dr Michael Spence, vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney.
"Professor Sculthorpe is such a huge loss, but at the same time he leaves such a big music legacy."
Close friend and colleague Ross Edwards said Sculthorpe was a widely revered and influential composer.
"Peter was very clever ... a lot of his music could be readily performed and people performed it very widely, particularly in America," he said.Influenced by the drama of landscape and the native people
Sculthorpe first claimed international attention in 1955 with his Piano Sonatina and not long after won a scholarship to Oxford University.
Works such as the Sun Music suites in the 1960s and landscape pieces like Kakadu have been described as having "shaped an Australian orchestral sound".
His most famous work, Irkanda IV, was composed following the death of his father in 1961, an experience he said affected him more than anything else up to that point in his life.
It was immediately hailed as an Australian masterpiece and while never written in the notes, it was politically charged.
"My idea was to make the Australian people aware of land rights," said Mr Sculthorpe in a 2014 ABC interview.
In the mid-1970s Mr Sculthorpe began to write music about Kakadu, despite having never been there.
"And when I finally did go there I found it wasn't nearly as dramatic as I'd imagined," he said.From Tasmania to Oxford
Mr Sculthorpe was born on April 29, 1929 in Launceston, Tasmania, the oldest son of Joshua and Edna.
He lived an active suburban boyhood with music, art and literature playing a formative role in his upbringing.
"When I was a schoolboy I used to say I was going to be the most famous composer in Launceston," he told the ABC in 2007.
At 16, he studied at Melbourne University's Conservatorium of Music before attending Wadham College, Oxford.
He soon learned his mentor, Egon Wellesz did not consider Aboriginal music important enough to be included in a book he had just edited.
"Well, it's very important to me and it's the oldest music on the planet," he responded.
When his father was dying, Mr Sculthorpe left Oxford and returned to Australia where he lived for the remainder of his life.
"Australia really is the only place I think for an Australian composer. I know that I can't work properly outside the country," he said.
He began lecturing at the University of Sydney, and that city became his base.
It was here that he delved into Zen Buddhism and attempted to write an opera, Rites of Passage, which he said people either loved or hated.
"One night as I was bowing, a whole row of people booed me. Then a row of people behind stood up and thumped them. I loved that," he recounted on his website.
The recipient of local and international acclaim, Mr Sculthorpe received dozens of awards throughout his life and held honorary doctorates from five universities.
He had been named an Officer of both the Order of the British Empire and the Order of Australia and an Australian Living Treasure.
"I often wonder if I was destined to be a composer. I think I decided and I followed my star."
In the early 1970s he became engaged to a fellow composer Anne Boyd but they broke off their engagement and Mr Sculthorpe never married.
"I feel that my works are my children and there are now well over 350 of them, and most of them are rather demanding," he wrote on his website.