Read more on our page on Douglas Lilburn.
Listen to RNZ National’s Douglas: Landscape of a New Zealand composer.
Douglas Lilburn (1915-2001) is considered ‘the father of New Zealand music’. In 1965 he created his first major electronic work in the studios of Radio NZ, our musical landscape was changed forever. Lilburn never looked back, and continued to work exclusively in electronic music (including founding Victoria University’s electronic music studio in 1970), until his death in 2001.
In Douglas Lilburn – Complete Electro Acoustic Works, some works are purely electronic; others were inspired by the natural sounds of the sea or bush, or the writings of leading New Zealand writers such as Allen Curnow, Denis Glover and Alistair Campbell.
All the pioneering work that influenced later composers like Jack Body, John Rimmer and Phil Dadson is here: found sounds, sampling, spoken word, birdsong, self-generated sounds (banging on cans, for example) and so on.
So too are the exploratory techniques: splicing, filtering, and soundscaping using entirely synthetic materials. His first major electronic work, The Return, is here. It also includes ‘Five Toronto Pieces’, which features a setting of Denis Glover’s Sings Harry – probably the first New Zealand electronic composition.
Concert organist Martin Setchell is Organ Curator of the Christchurch Town Hall, where he regularly performed on the acclaimed Rieger pipe organ. Here on Pink and White – New Zealand Organ Music, 1944-2004 we hear works by Anthony Ritchie, David Farquhar, Douglas Lilburn, John Ritchie, Douglas Mews, Jack Body, Tecwyn Evans and Martin Setchell himself, performed on the Rieger organ.
Recorded January. 27-28, 2005, Pink and White features
On a disc with the somewhat enigmatic title, Points in a Changing Circle, American-based New Zealander Grant Cooper and his group Concord Brass perform a group of works for acoustic and electronic instruments.
Lilburn’s Quartet for Brass Instruments is the first track in a disc that has some rewarding listening. Points in a Changing Circle features:
Viola Aotearoa features virtuoso presentations of modern New Zealand repertoire for viola, including three previously unrecorded works.
A New Zealander by birth, Timothy Deighton is Assistant Professor of Viola at Penn State University. He maintains a busy performing schedule as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician, and is very active as a teacher and clinician.
Having long held a fascination for new music, Deighton has performed American, European, and international premieres of numerous works by contemporary composers, several of which were commissioned by or written for him.
The work of John Psathas, Philip Dadson, Jack Body, Gillian Whitehead, Douglas Lilburn, Annea Lockwood and Dan Poynton features in the critically acclaimed, You hit him he cry out.
Their music is performed with passion and subtlety, and for all their sonic diversity, these seven pieces (played on or in the piano) together comprise an emotional and very appealing debut album. It won the Best Classical Album at the 1998 New Zealand Music Awards.
The album features:
Douglas Lilburn – The Three Symphonies features James Judd conducting the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Douglas Lilburn (1915-2001) is considered ‘the father of New Zealand music’. Lilburn’s three symphonies represent the heart of his creativity. The first and second symphonies written in the 1940s and early 50s clearly bear the resolve, energy and determination of the young Lilburn – the composer’s response to the elevating power of landscape whilst the third is an admission that the natural world is beautiful, restorative and necessary, yet also vulnerable and transient.
We also have a webpage on Lilburn’s famouse collaboration with Allen Curnow Landfall in unknown seas.
Today we present New Zealand Guitar Music by Lilburn and Farquhar – the first comprehensive recorded survey of the guitar music of these two pre-eminent Kiwi composers. Lilburn’s Seventeen Pieces explore the instrument’s wide-ranging potential, alluding to Spanish idioms, the music of Bach and other influences.
The other pieces by Lilburn are taken from his unpublished music. Lilburn’s student, David Farquhar, dedicated his engaging Suite to Ronald Burt, the influential British painter and guitarist, who emigrated to New Zealand in the late 1950s and inspired a new generation of artists to write for and perform on the classical guitar. The title piece of this disc, Prospero Dreaming, evokes Shakespeare’s famous line from The Tempest: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on”.
Performed by Gunter Herbig.
Douglas (Gordon) Lilburn 1915 – 2001 is considered to be New Zealand’s foremost composer. Sometimes referred to fondly as the ‘elder statesman’ or ‘grandfather’ of New Zealand composing it is interesting that Lilburn said of his young self – ‘I was not born into a musical family and had no proper musical training before a late age of 17. But rather than regret this , I’ve always remained grateful for a childhood on a central North Island sheep station, a richly varied and potent human and natural context to shape a young imagination.’
However, from that point on, his natural talent blossomed and his impressive, unfaltering, musical journey began. First he studied at Canterbury University College, then the Royal College of Music, London where he was tutored by Ralph Vaughan Williams. This was the beginning of a long friendship between the pair.
Like Vaughan Williams, Lilburn was intensely inspired by the beauty of nature, poetry and art, albeit that his works have a unique New Zealand perspective. As an industrious student under Vaughan Williams’ patronage he made rapid progress writing several acclaimed works. These include the Drysdale Overture, a musical tribute to summer days on his parent’s farm and the classic Aotearoa Overture which pays homage to the New Zealand landscape.
On his return home he moved to Christchurch and worked as a composer and teacher.