Music for Federation


by Peter Sculthorpe

Full Orchestra
2222 - 4331 - timp - perc(3): tam-t/ch.cym/cyms/BD/SD/bongo/3 tom-t/crot/tgl/t.bell - strings
Commissioned by the Melbourne Festival as part of the Federation Festival, May 2001
First Performance
9.5.2001, Australia, Great Hall of Parliament House, Canberra: Melbourne SO/Markus Stenz

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
Peter Sculthorpe Music for Federation Writing music for a ceremonial occasion is very different from writing music for inclusion in a concert programme. As far as the latter is concerned, one is more or less writing for oneself. In the case of the former, one is following a specific brief, quite outside oneself, but if the music is to have meaning it must have the same whole hearted commitment as the latter. I am a somewhat passionate Australian and the hundredth anniversary of Federation, a milestone in our nationhood, presented me with the opportunity to express this commitment. Music for Federation was commissioned by the Melbourne Festival as part of the Federation Festival, May 2001. It was written especially for the commemorative Meeting of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, for performance in the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, where the first Parliament was opened on 9 May 1901. The work, designed to follow the commemoration Ceremony Order of Proceedings, is in nine separate parts. These are: Processional; Parliamentary Fanfares; Recessional; Incantation; Advance Australia Part I; Advance Australia Part II; Canticle; Advance Australia Fair and Epilogue. Above all, Music for Federation sets out to be music of dignity. In writing it, I also attempted to avoid the kind of stereotypes that so often appear in ceremonial music. It might be expected, for instance, that the work would begin with the kind of trumpet fanfares that are heard on a ceremonial occasion in, say, Westminster Abbey. Instead, it begins with a dramatic statement from brass and percussion, a reference to the turbulence of our early history. During the course of the work, a number of transformations take place. The dramatic, opening music, for instance, becomes consonant and serene at the end. While various sections are self-explanatory, mention should be made of the National Anthem, the words and music of which were written by Peter Dodds McCormick (1834-1916). The melody appears to be based upon several vice-regal English anthems from the nineteenth century. In order to make it less reminiscent of Victorian England, I have re-harmonised it and quickened the tempo, giving it two beats to the bar. In this guise, I would like to think that it is more suitable to Australians and to Australia. Peter Scutlhorpe

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