Douglas Lilburn

About Douglas Lilburn

Douglas Lilburn has for decades been considered to be New Zealand's premier composer. He studied at the University of Canterbury and at the Royal College of Music with Vaughan Williams. He taught for many years at the Victoria University at Wellington. In addition to a large body of instrumental works, he has also composed in the field of electronic music, an important work here being The Return, a sound image setting of a poem by Alistair Campbell.
His Aotearoa Overture is one of his ost popular works. The word means "Land of the Long White Cloud" and was what New Zealanders called their country before the Dutch arrived and renamed it. A brief work of elegantly overlaid sustained chords, restrained and touching.
The Third Symphony of 1961 is a remarkable work for its refined style and intelligent working of limited materials; in one movement made up of five interrelated sections, Lilburn's postromanticism winds through many groups of variations and ends quite unexpectedly in a sort of broken coda. If his style might be compared to anyone's it might be Arthur Bliss with a touch of Havergal Brian.
The three symphonies have been recorded by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on a Continuum CD #1069; His Diversions for Strings (1947) and Landfall in Unknown Seas for Speaker and Orchestra (1942) are available on a CD from Koch International #7260. ~ Philip Krumm

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