The composer and broadcaster reflects on Australian music in 1983 and his relationship with Peter Sculthorpe.

I was never a close friend of his [Peter Sculthorpe] – I certainly wasn’t part of the inner circle of (mostly) former students – but I had many conversations with him over 30 years, and when I was a near neighbour in Sydney for the two years I spent in the Glanville- Hicks house, sometimes the conversations stretched into the early hours of the morning, fuelled by bottles of Australian sparkling wine. What emerged were contradictions, and while we all have those, in Peter’s case they were surprising because he and his music had such a strong reputation for being nationalistic, anti- European and devoted to all things Asian. It wasn’t always true. He was, for example, quite the Anglophile, and one particular night, following the launch of his memoir Sun Music in 1999, we sat in his backyard discussing the forthcoming referendum on the Australian republic. I was for it, and he was against it, saying it was ‘window-dressing’, though he wouldn’t be drawn on what he meant by that.

‘I can’t believe you’re saying this, Peter,’ I kept repeating. ‘You’re meant to...

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