About Graeme Skinner
Graeme Skinner
And curator of Australharmony

About Graeme Skinner
Australharmony @ Trove
Graeme Skinner @ Trove
Graeme Skinner @
University of Sydney
The Australharmonist
The Amadio family
Sculthorpe obituary
Sculthorpe memorial
Ross Edwards
Castelnuovo-Tesdesco Guitar Concerto No 1
Lambert Piano Concerto
Haydn & Dvořák @ Edinburgh Festival 2010
Narcisse Pelletier

About Graeme Skinner

Graeme Skinner is an Australian music historian, academic musicologist, writer, researcher, and consultant.

B. Mus. (Hons), University of Melbourne, 1983
Ph.D, University of Sydney, 2011

He is an Honorary Associate of the University of Sydney, in the Musicology Unit, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

His acclaimed biography Peter Sculthorpe: the making of an Australian composer (University of New South Wales Press, 2007), covering the first half of the late composer's life (to 1974), has recently (2015) been re-released, with a new preface, in ebook and paperback formats. 

He has published books, academic book chapters, and peer-reviewed journal articles, and given conference presentations in both his main areas of his scholarly research to date, the history of Australian music, and the historical sacred liturgical music sources, plainsong and polyphony, of Toledo Cathedral in Spain.

He has examined theses (University of Melbourne, University of Sydney),  prepared readers reports (Lyrebird Press, University of Melbourne), and reviewed journal articles (Journal of Music Research Online, Journal of Australian Colonial History).

He was a 2007 Harold White Fellow at the National Library of Australia, and a featured author at the 2008 Sydney Writers Festival.

His research and publications have been supported by major funding from the Australian Council of the Arts and the University of Sydney.

He is curator of the online open research resource Australharmony
in which he continues to document his research in progress, begun in his doctoral thesis, of Australian music and musicians of the colonial and early Federation eras.

Also under the user profile australharmony, he curates a public virtual resource in the NLA's Trove

He was project designer and repertoire advisor for Australian Composers Online, a tertiary teaching resource online archive of music scores by Australian composers, past and present, developed and launched in 2009 by the Sydney Conservatorium Branch of the University of Sydney Library.

With co-author Michael Noone, he is completing for forthcoming publication a catalogue of the 16th-century polyphonic choirbooks of Toledo Cathedral, Spain.

Following the recent death of the composer, he is currently researching the second and concluding volume of his Sculthorpe biography.

Contract research and consultancies

Graeme Skinner works in the library, archive and heritage sectors, in educational and curriculum research, as well as in music and the performing arts.

He was Music Officer, Musica Viva Australia, 1985-90. Since then he has pursued a freelance career.

He has undertaken contract research for the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (2009-2010), and prepared a consultant report on the colonial heritage music collections of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales (2011).

Other past consultancies have included such diverse projects as grant proposal writing for Stalker Theatre Company, research on Indigenous arts education for Anzarts Institute, readers reports for the University of Queensland Press and University of Melbourne, a collection report for the University of Wollongong Library, and for the National Library of Australia the acquisition and pre-accession of the papers of the late Curt & Marea Prerauer, and of the Seymour Group collection of contemporary Australian music 1976-2006.

Concert program notes,  CD booklet essays, and other writing on classical music

Graeme Skinner is one of Australia’s most regularly commissioned and widely published writers of classical music program notes and CD booklet essays.

Recent commissions include a 30,000 word booklet essay for the 10CD compilation Sculthorpe: The ABC Recordings (ABC Classics, 2014), booket notes for CDS of Sculthorpe (Del Sol Quartet, 2014) and Vivaldi (Australian Chamber Orchestra, BIS, 2014), program notes for Sydney Symphony and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra 2014 seasons, on the 9 Symphonies for the WA Symphony Orchestra's 2014 Beethoven Festival, national tour and festival programs for the Australian Chamber Orchestra. He regularly writes program notes for all the major Australian symphony orchestras though their federal commissioning body, Symphony Services International.   

His booklet essays, covering classical repertoire from early music to modern, are a feature of many Australian commercial CD recordings. Recent projects include notes for three albums of Sculthorpe String Quartets for Tall Poppies; of music by leading Australian composers Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Gerard Brophy, and Ross Edwards, for ABC Classics; and, also for ABC Classics, for an 8-CD compilation of recordings by veteran conductor Patrick Thomas for its “Australian Masters” series.

Over 25 years working as a contracted writer for leading music organisations—including the ABC, Musica Viva, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and the Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide Festivals, among many others—Graeme has amassed a huge program note archive from which he can supply and adapt author-copyright material for reprint at short notice.

Peter Sculthorpe biography

Graeme Skinner is author of the acclaimed authorised biography
Peter Sculthorpe: the making of an Australian composer‎,
published by University of New South Wales Press (Sydney, 2007)
and previewable at Google Books.


The original 1000-copy 2007 hardback edition is now officially out of print. To replace it, UNSW Press/New South Wales Books has just released a new paperback edition, with a new preface (2015) I added in the wake of Peter's death. More importantly for readers, there's also a new budget-priced eBook edition:

Roger Covell, reviewing it in 2007 in The Sydney Morning Herald described it as an:

“absorbing book ... carefully documented chronicle ... quiet, clear and unpartisan ... Skinner's mastery of his sources ... sets high standards for biographical thoroughness and provides ... a vivid sense of Sculthorpe's day-to-day discovery of music and people in a significant period of our artistic history.”

The book’s focus on Sculthorpe’s early career (to the end of 1974) also makes it a history of the 1960s modernist “new wave” of Australian music, as Peter McCallum recognised also writing in the SMH:

“Skinner’s new biography … tells the story of how, in the 1960s, an appetite emerged among influential voices for a distinctive Australian musical culture and of how a generation of talent rose to meet it.”

For Suzanne Robinson of the University of Melbourne, reviewing it in Musicology Australia, the book:

“belongs in the tradition of monumentalizing biographies of great men, such as Christoph Wolff’s recent biography of Bach and Howard Pollack’s of Gershwin … [its] accumulation of detail and the cleverly subtle interweaving of history and music analysis – not to mention the smooth prose – make it a marvellous achievement … If [the sequel] is as accomplished as this one it will be another landmark in Australian musicology.”

For the Australian Music Centre, he has also written a secondary curriculum teacher's resource kit Sculthorpe: an icon of Australian music (with accompanying CD).

© Graeme Skinner 2015