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The Rare Spotted Australian Composer (S. australianus composerum)


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I was having a conversation with our very own Mr. Lidell (aka Morivou) about a month ago when we started talking about the Australian composer Carl Vine. Morivou tells me that his music is known to only a handful of people where he comes from, but here is Australia I don't know any classical musician who has never heard of Carl Vine! I had been wondering after that conversation how many people outside Australia know any of our professional composers at all, so I decided to make this thread to see how many of you are familiar with these people and their music. These are probably the top six most famous composers in Australia I can think of.

No. 1: Ross Edwards.

Edwards is famous for his "maninya" style of dance-like music. He is well known in Australia particularly for his Marimba Dances, Dawn Mantras, and his violin concerto subtitled "Maninyas." This is the third movement of that concerto:

No. 2: Peter Sculthorpe.

Born in 1929 Launceston, Tasmania, he is the second oldest of the six. His music is heavily influenced on Indonesian Gamelan music. He is primarily known for his orchestral pieces "Sun Music" (there are several of those), "Kakadu," and "Earth Cry." He is also known for his 18 or so string quartets. This is "Earth Cry:"

No. 3: Nigel Westlake.

I am assuming he is the among the best known out of the composers here. He has written several guitar works that I know and is also known for his film soundtracks. He is most famous here for his "Antarctica Suite" for guitar and orchestra (taken from his soundtrack to a documentary about Antarctica) and his soundtrack to the movie "Babe." This is the best known movement of the "Antarctica Suite":

No. 4: Carl Vine.

This composer is primarily known for his piano sonatas and six symphonies (but he might write more, you never know). His music can be somewhat more aggressive and dissonant than the three above, but his music is quite popular here. This is the first movement of his first piano sonata:

No. 5: Percy Graniger.

The oldest (and probably most eccentric) of the six, born in Melbourne (the city in which I am currently residing). He has collected and arranged many English and Irish folk songs as well as composing some highly original compositions such as his ballet score "The Warriors." This is a recording of him in 1908 playing his piece "Sheperd's Hey."

No. 6: Brett Dean.

My personal favourite of the six. Brett Dean's music is probably the most "European sounding." It is often densely atonal and the least (oh I hate this word) "accessible." He has played viola in the Berlin Phil and his most famous composition would probably be his incredible opera "Bliss" based on the novel by Peter Carey:

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was going to suggest that. :) Also, look at his choral arrangements. They may not be originals, but they are certainly "original" in execution. haha.

Also, Percy's scores are very interesting. They usually contain comical elements or very specific instructions that can make listening a VERY enjoyable experience. haha.

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