by Peter Sculthorpe

chamber orchestra, with optional didjeridu
Small Orchestra, Solo Instruments with Orchestra
2000 - 2000 - strings
First Performance
20.5.2001, Customs House, Sydney: Sydney Conservatorium of Music Orchestra, Warwick Stengards

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
Quamby When I was very young, my father told me a story about Quamby Bluff, a rather forbidding mountainous outcrop in the highlands of northern Tasmania. There, according to legend, colonial government soldiers once drove a tribe of Aborigines to the bluff’s edge. The Aborigines had the choice of being shot, or jumping. They chose the latter, and as they jumped they cried out Quamby! Quamby!, meaning Save me! Save me! It was perhaps inevitable that my thoughts about this incident and this place would find their way into a piece of music. Quamby is scored for two flutes, two horns and strings. The flutes may be replaced by two solo violins. It is in four movements: I Prelude Inquieto II In the Valley Solenne III On High Hills Come veduta a volo d’uccello; Calmo; Come veduta a volo d’uccello IV At Quamby Bluff Inquieto; Come preghiera; Calmato The Prelude present most of the material upon which the music is based. Throughout, the falling tritone is especially important. Heard at the very outset, it dominates the sombre second movement, In the Valley. By way of contrast, On High Hills is calmly lyrical, its melody actually conceived in my schooldays. The last movement, At Quamby Bluff, is the longest, and the music here is questioning and restless. Following a short hymn-like section, however, there is some resolution at the close. After I completed Quamby, I realized that the outer movements contain suggestions of Beethoven’s motto theme, Muss es sein?, Must it be? I was unaware of this while writing the work, but clearly such a question was on my mind at the time. Peter Sculthorpe

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