Sitsky, Larry , prominent Australian composer, pianist, teacher, and writer on music; b. Tientsin, China (of Russian-Jewish parents), Sept. 10, 1934. He began to study piano at an early age. After emigrating to Australia in 1951, he won a scholarship and studied piano and composition at the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music in Sydney (graduated, 1956; postgraduate studies, 1956–58). He completed his postgraduate studies with Egon Petri at the San Francisco Cons. of Music (1959–61). From 1961 to 1965 he taught piano at the Queensland State Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane, and concurrently served as a guest lecturer on contemporary music at the Univ. of Queensland. Sitsky was head of keyboard studies (1966–78), of the dept. of composition and electronic music (1978–81), of the dept. of composition and musicology (1981–83), and of the dept. of composition (from 1983) at the Canberra School of Music. In 1993 he was promoted to reader and in 1994 to prof. (personal chair). Under the auspices of the Australian Dept. of Foreign Affairs, he was the first Australian to hold visiting composition fellowships to the Soviet Union (1977) and Communist China (1983). In 1998 he was the composer-in-residence of the Australian Academy of Music. Sitsky held a Fulbright Australian-American fellowship in 1988–89. In 1989 he won the Advance Australia Award, the inaugural prize of the Fellowship of Composers, and the inaugural National Critics’ Award. He received the first Higher Doctorate in Fine Arts from the Australian National Univ. in 1997. In 1998 he was elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. In addition to his books, he has contributed articles to various publications. As a composer, he has written scores that range from the most challenging avant-garde pieces to works of melodious accessibility.
Busoni and the Piano: The Music, the Writing, the Recordings: A Complete Survey (Westport, Conn., 1986); The Classical Reproducing Piano Roll: A Catalogue-Index (2 vols., Westport, Conn., 1989); Music of the Repressed Russian Avant-Garde, 1900–1929 (Westport, Conn., 1993); Anton Rubinstein: An Annotated Catalog of Piano Works and Biography (Westport, Conn., 1998).
DRAMATIC: Opera : Fall of the House of Usher (Hobart, Aug. 1965); Lenz (1970; Sydney, March 1974); Fiery Tales (1975); Voices in Limbo (1977); The Golem (1980; Sydney, Oct. 14, 1993); Three Scenes from Aboriginal life (1988). Incidental Music To: Faust (1996). ORCH.: 4 Orchestral Pieces (1966–74); Woodwind Quintet Concerto (1971); 5 violin concertos (1971, 1983, 1987, 1998, 1998); 6 Orchestral Songs for Low Voice and Orch. (1980); Santana, concerto for Clarinet and Strings (1981); Kundalini, concerto for Trombone, Keyboards, and Percussion (1982); Concerto for Orchestra (1984; completion and realization of Busoni’s Fantasia Contrappuntistica);Guitar Concerto (1984); Songs and Dances from “The Golem” (1984); Suite for Concert Band (1987); Piano Concerto, The 22 Paths of the Tarot (1991; rev. 1994); At the Gate (1992); Sphinx, cello concerto (1993); Zohar, Sephardic Concerto for Mandolin and Small Orch. (1998). CHAMBER: Sonata for Solo Violin (1959); 3 sonatas for Solo Flute (1959, 1979, 1994); Woodwind Quartet (1963); Sinfonia for 10 Players (1964); Sonata for 2 Guitars (1968); 2 string quartets (1969, 1981); Sonata for Solo Guitar (1974); Attnan: A Song of Serenity for Piano Trio (1975); Maherq: Fantasia No. 6 in Memory of John Crocker for Bassoon (1984); Agharti, trio for Baroque Violin, Viola da Gamba, and Harpsichord (1986); Diabolus in Musica for Percussion Quartet (1986); Concertino for Mandolin and Wind Quartet (1987); The Secret Gates of the House of Osiris for Flute, Viola, Cello, and Piano (1987); Neconomicon, 18 aphorisms for Clarinet and Piano (1989); Sonata for Solo Mandolin, The Three Names of Shiva (1992); Violin Sonata, Omnia exeunt in mysterium (1995); Double Bass Sonata, Beowulf (1997); Enochian Sonata for 2 Cellos and Piano (1999). KEYBOARD: Piano: Fantasia Nos. 1–11 (1962–98); Concerto for 2 Solo Pianos (1967); 12 Mystical Preludes After the Nuctemeron of Appollonius of Tyana (1973); lotus I (1995) and II (1996). Organ: 7 Meditations on Symbolist Art (1975). VOCAL: Concert Aria for Low Voice, Ensemble, Tapes, and Synthesizer (1972); A Whitman Cycle for Low Voice and Piano (1972); 8 Settings After Li-Po for Low Voice, Flute, Cello, and Piano (1974); Music in Mirabell Garden for Soprano and Instruments (1977); De Profundis for Baritone, Percussionist, and 2 String Quartets (1982); Deep in My Hidden Country…, cantata for Soprano, Flute, Cello, Percussion, and Piano (1984); In Pace Requiescat for Soprano and Strings (1989); The Sound of Drums for Soprano, Oboe, Harpsichord, and Bassoon (1990); Shih Ching (The Book of Songs) for Alto and Piano (1996); Sonette for Jazz Singer (1997); Bone of My Bones for Voice and Piano (1998); many other pieces.
R. Holmes, P. Shaw, and P. Campbell, L. S.: A Bio-Bibliography (Westport, Conn., 1997).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire