Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe has died, aged 85.

The celebrated musician passed away at a hospital in Sydney, Australia on Friday (08Aug14) after a long illness.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was among the first to pay tribute, saying in a statement, "Today, Australia lost a musical giant... Peter Sculthorpe much deepened Australia's musical voice and our country is forever richer because of him."

Sculthorpe was known for using Australian influences in his classical compositions and is credited with shaping the country's national orchestral sound. Many of his pieces were written to evoke the sights and sounds of The Outback.

He also composed the soundtracks to a number of Australian films during his lengthy career.

Sculthorpe was awarded a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Mbe) medal by Britain's Queen Elizabeth Ii in 1970 and his honour was upgraded to an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Obe) in 1977.

He was also named an Officer of the Order of Australia (Ao) in 1990.