A graduate of the University of Melbourne, Peter undertook doctoral studies at King’s College, University of Cambridge, where he was also a choral scholar. In 2000, after an initial appointment as a Lecturer to the music department of the University of Queensland, he was appointed a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge where he was Lecturer and Director of Music as well as maintaining an active performing career as a singer and conductor. Performance highlights include conducting a critically acclaimed UK stage premiere of Max Brand’s opera Maschinist Hopkins at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2001. In 2006 Peter was invited to return to Australia to take up the position of Dean of Trinity College, Melbourne; he also continued to teach at the University of Melbourne and the Australian National Academy of Music, and perform with both Victorian Opera and Melbourne Opera. In 2007 with Gert Reifarth he established the innovative opera company IOpera for which he conducted a new edition of Anna Amalia's Erwin und Elmire for the Ekhof-Festival in Gotha, Germany, as well as the Australian premiere of a chamber version of Rothschild's violin, and a new production of The Emperor of Atlantis. He also regularly appears with the Choir of London and the Consort of Melbourne, which he founded and co-directs with Warren Trevelyan-Jones, and with whom he has performed with the Kronos Quartet, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and The Rolling Stones, among others, and He was awarded the Sir Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize in 2003, and a Green Room Award for Best Opera Conductor in 2009.
In November 2010 Peter was appointed Executive Director of the Academy of Performing Arts, Monash University, and in August 2012 he was appointed Professor and Head of School at the School of Music of the Australian National University. His academic work is broadly concerned with how music relates to its historical and cultural context, and how we can best understand and exploit the links between music as an object of intellectual inquiry and music as creative practice. He has particular interests in Australian music history and in the musical culture of the Weimar republic, in particular the generation of musicians whose careers and lives were ruined by the rise of Fascism in Europe. He has published widely in leading academic journals nationally and internationally, as well as being a frequent author and public presenter for groups such as the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Peter also writes regularly for The Conversation and is the founding Chair of the AMF Australia Foundation, which supports the education of young Australian musicians in Australia and overseas. His two most recent major publications are Ernst Krenek and the Politics of Musical Style (2013) and Enlightenment or Entitlement: Rethinking Tertiary Music Education (2014).
- The Conservatorium of Music University of Melbourne: An Historical Essayto Mark its Centenary (Melbourne: Faculty of Music, 1997).
- Ernst Krenek and the Politics of Musical Style (Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2013)
- Enlightenment or Entitlement: Rethinking Tertiary Music Education (Sydney: Currency Press, 2014)
- ‘Giving Voice to “The Painfulness of Human Life”: Grainger’s Folk Song Settings and Musical Irony’, in Kay Dreyfus and Suzanne Robinson (eds), Grainger the Modernist (London: Ashgate), in press.
- ‘Leaping over Shadows: Ernst Krenek and Post-War Vienna’, in Trudi Tate & Kate Allum Kennedy (eds), ‘The Silent Morning: Memory, Culture and the Armistice November 1918’ (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 182–199.
- 'Marshall Hall as Australian Composer’ in Suzanne Robinson & Therese Radic (eds), The Marshall-Hall Era: Music, Art and Controversy in Federation Melbourne (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Press, 2012), 199–207.
- ‘Schoenberg, Satire and the Zeitoper’, in Joseph Auner & Jennifer Shaw (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Schoenberg (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 147–156.
- ‘Edward Said and Theodor Adorno: The Intellectual as Musician’, in Edward Said: Legacy of a Public Intellectual (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2007), 203–220.
- ‘For alle Menschen?: Classical Music and Remembrance after 9/11’, Music in the Post-9/11 World, ed. J. Martin Daughtry & Jonathan Ritter(New York: Routledge, 2007), pp. 204–216.
- ‘European Sounds, Australia Echoes: The Music of Marshall-Hall, Hill, and Hart’, in The Soundscapes of Australia: Music, Place And Spirituality, ed. Fiona Richards (London: Ashgate, 2007), pp. 185–198.
- ‘Revolution in der Oper: “Die Zwingburg” und “Der Sprung über den Schatten” ’,„Der zauberhafte, aber schwierige Beruf des Opernschreibens“. Das Musiktheater Ernst Kreneks (Vienna: Argus, 2006), pp. 31-39.
- ‘Stadtluft macht frei: Urban Sounds and Weimar Opera’, Music, Theatre and Politics in Germany 1848–1933, ed. Nikolaus Bacht(London: Ashgate, 2006), pp. 237–254.
- ‘The Centenary of the “Con”: An Introduction’ Aflame with Music: 100 years of Music at the University of Melbourne (Melbourne: Centre for Studies in Australian Music, 1996), pp. 3–10.
- ‘The Songs of Fritz Bennicke Hart’, One Hand on the Manuscript: Music in Australian Cultural History 1930-1960 (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1995), pp. 55–64.
- ‘“Nostalgia is not what it used to be”: Percy Grainger and the Aesthetics of Kitsch’, Grainger Studies, 1 (2011), pp. 97–113.
- ‘The Ninth after 9/11’, Beethoven Forum, 10/2 (2003), pp. 221–232.
- ‘Musical Style and Political Allegory in Krenek's Karl V’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 13 (1999), pp. 55–88.
- ‘Fritz Hart and the ‘Celtic Twilight’ in Australia’, The Literary Review, 45 (2001), pp. 173–179.
- ‘Sounding Fascism: T. W. Adorno and the Political Susceptibility of Music’, Renaissance and Modern Studies, 42 (1999), pp. 36–48.
- ‘Der Übergang in Kreneks Musik von “Jonny” zu “Karl V”’, Österreichische Musikzeitschrift, 55/8-9 (2000), pp. 21–24.
Critical & performing editions
- Anna Amalia, Erwin und Elmire: Schaupiel mit Gesang nach einem Text von Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [Sound Research of Women Composers: Music of the Classical Period]. (Kassel: Furore Verlag, 2011).
- Two song cycles by Fitz Hart, Mucica Australia, vol. 1. (Melbourne: Marshall-Hall Trust, 1996), 40 pp.
- ‘Compositional Technique as Political Allegory in Krenek’s Early 12-tone Works’, in Michael Hass (ed), Musik und Widerstand, Wiener Jahrbuch für jüdische Geschichte, Kultur & Museumswesen, 8 (2008), pp. 100–111.
- Joseph P Fisher & Brian Flota (eds), The Politics of Post-9/11 Music: Sound, Trauma, and the Music Industry in the Time of Terror (London: Ashgate, 2011). Music and Letters 94 (2013), pp. 550–552.
- Erik Levi and Florian Scheding (eds), Music and Displacement: Diasporas, Mobilities, and Dislocations in Europe and Beyond (Maryland: Scarecrow, 2010). Music and Letters 94 (2013), pp. 552–554.
- Penelope Thwaites (ed.), The New Percy Grainger Companion. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2010), Musicology Australia, 33 (2011), 146–48.
- Michael P. Steinberg, Listening to Reason: Culture, Subjectivity and Nineteenth-Century Music (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), Music and Letters, 90 (2009), 294–95.
- Charles Youmans, Richard Strauss’s Orchestral Music and the German Intellectual tradition: the Philosophical Roots of Musical Modernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), Music and Letters, 89 (2008), 441–444.
- Esbjörn Nyström, Libretto im Progress: Brechts und Weills Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Arbetin zur Editionswissenschaft 6, ed. Winfried Woesler (Bern: Peter Lang, 2005), Music and Letters, 89 (2008), 440–441.
- Roger Hillman, Unsettling Scores: German Film, Music, and Ideology (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), Musicology Australia, 28 (2005–6), pp. 139–42.
- Theodor W. Adorno Essays on Music, trans. Susan H. Gillespie (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), Journal of European Studies, 33 (2003), pp. 355–357.
- Therese Radic, G. W. L. Marshall-Hall: A Biography and Catalogue (Melbourne: Centre for Studies in Australian Music, 2002), Context, 23 (2002), pp, 79–81.
- John Bird, Percy Grainger, 3rd ed. (London: Oxford, 1999), The Times Literary Supplement, 5027 (1999), 32.
- David Symons, The Music of Margaret Sutherland (Sydney: Currency Press, 1995), Musicology Australia 21 (1998), pp. 84-5.
- Michael Chanan, Musica Practica: The Social Practice of Western Music from Gregorian Chant to Postmodernism (London, Verso, 1994), Musicology Australia, 19 (1996), pp. 88–9.
- Gyger, Alison. Opera for the Antipodes: Opera in Australia, 1881-1939 (Paddington: Currency Press, 1990), Centre for Studies in Australian Music Newsletter, 1 (1995), pp. 2–3.
- ‘Immortal Satisfaction’, Canberra Times (Panorama), 29 November 2014, p. 15.
- 'ABC’s Classic FM faces cuts: it’s time to change the tune', The Conversation, 24 November 2014. https://theconversation.com/abcs-classic-fm-faces-cuts-its-time-to-change-the-tune-34593
- ‘Long players: secrets of the Rolling Stones longevity’, The Conversation, 11 November 2014. https://theconversation.com/long-players-secrets-of-the-rolling-stones-longevity-33939
- ‘Heritage performing arts and the case for funding’, The Conversation, 6 November 2014. https://theconversation.com/heritage-performing-arts-and-the-case-for-funding-33730
- ‘Risky Business? The Klinghoffer protests show opera’s relevance’, The Conversation, 24 October 2014. https://theconversation.com/risky-business-the-klinghoffer-protests-show-operas-relevance-33307
- ‘Opera–The Art of the Possible', Australian Book Review, 28 August 2014. https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/component/k2/101-arts-update/2149-opera-the-art-of-the-possible
- ‘Class privilege and the classical arts – the problem of ‘elite’ culture’, The Conversation, 10 June 2014. https://theconversation.com/class-privilege-and-the-classical-arts-the-problem-of-elite-culture-27626
- ‘The budget, the arts and the limits of marketplace thinking’, The Conversation, 15 May 2014. https://theconversation.com/the-budget-the-arts-and-the-limits-of-marketplace-thinking-26736
- ‘The art of being awkward: Brandis is wrong about the Biennale’, The Conversation, 13 March 2014. https://theconversation.com/the-art-of-being-awkward-brandis-is-wrong-about-the-biennale-24336
- ‘It’s time for tertiary music education to change its tune’, The Conversation, 4 February 2014. https://theconversation.com/its-time-for-tertiary-music-education-to-change-its-tune-22057
- ‘Why ANU rethought private music tuition’, artsHub, 22 January 2014. http://performing.artshub.com.au/news-article/opinions/performing-arts/why-anu-rethought-private-music-tuition-197864
- ‘Enlightenment, not Entitlement: How Music Adds to a Life Well Lived’, The Australian, 24 January 2014, 13.
- ‘The Cultural Counterpoint of High Art’, The Australian, 22 November 2013, 15.
- ‘Explainer: Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen’, The Conversation, 21 November 2013. https://theconversation.com/explainer-wagners-ring-cycle-der-ring-des-nibelungen-20475
- The Modern University and the Musical Mind: Sounding Out John Henry Newman. Newman Public Lecture. (Melbourne: Mannix College, 2010), 18 pp.
- ‘Lament for a Noted Absence’, The Australian Higher Education, 26 November 2008, 25.
- ‘Not a Place Out of Notes’, Keeping Scores: 120 years of Music Library Services at the University of Melbourne (Melbourne: University of Melbourne, 2008), 5–14.
- ‘Tilting at Windchimes: Contemplating Classical Music in a Postmodern World’, Salt, 16 (2003), 12–17.
- ‘Carl Seidel (1893–1980)’ Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 15 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2002).
- ‘The Ormond Affair: A Tale of a Tale’, in The Subversion of Australian Universities, ed. John Biggs and Richard Davis (Wollongong: Fund for Intellectual Dissent, 2002), 109–117.
- Introduction to the published full and vocal scores of Fritz Hart’s opera Riders to the Sea (Melbourne: Centre for Studies in Australian Music, 1997), pp. x–xiii.
- ‘Melbourne’ (Major Entry); ‘Fritz Hart’, ‘W. A. Laver’, ‘Franklin Peterson’, ‘J. A. Steele’ (Biographical Entries), Oxford Companion to Australian Music (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1997).
- ‘Raymond Hanson (1913–1976)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 13, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1996).
- ‘The Ormond Chair of Music: An Introduction to its Origins’, Context, 6 (1994), pp. 34–37.