Lilburn, Douglas (Gordon)

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Lilburn, Douglas (Gordon)

Lilburn, Douglas (Gordon), notable New Zealand composer and teacher; b. Wanganui, Nov. 2, 1915. He was a student of J.C. Bradshaw at Canterbury Univ. Coll., Christchurch (1934–36). As winner of the Grainger Competition with his symphonic poem Forest (1936), he was able to pursue his studies in London with Vaughan Williams at the Royal Coll. of Music (1937–40). He was composer-in-residence at the Cambridge Summer Music Schools (1946–49; 1951). In 1947 he began teaching at Victoria Univ. in Wellington, where he was a lecturer (1949–55), senior lecturer (1955–63), assoc. prof. (1963–70), and prof. (1970–79). In 1966 he founded New Zealand’s first electronic music studio there, serving as its director until 1979. In 1967 he founded the Wai-te-ata Press Music Editions. His Lilburn Trust has done much to encourage the promotion of music in New Zealand. He publ. the lectures A Search for Tradition (Wellington, 1984) and A Search for a Language (Wellington, 1985). In 1988 Lilburn was made a member of the Order of New Zealand. In his early works, Lilburn found inspiration in traditional forms of expression. About 1953 he embraced an eclectic style, primarily influenced by Stravinsky, Bartók, the Second Viennese School, and modern American composers. By 1962 he pursued a more adventuresome path as a proponent of electronic music.


dramatic: Landfall in Unknown Seas, incidental music (1942). orch.:Forest, symphonic poem (1936); Drysdale Overture (1937; rev. 1940 and 1986); Festival Overture (1939); Aotearoa Overture (London, April 16, 1940); Introduction and Allegro for Strings (1942); 4 Canzonas for Strings (1943–50); A Song of Islands or Song of the Antipodes (1946; Wellington, Aug. 20, 1947); Cambridge Overture (1946); Diversions for Strings (1947); 3 syms.: No. 1 (1949; Wellington, May 12, 1951), No. 2 (1951; rev. 1974), and No. 3 (1961); Suite (1955; rev. 1956); A Birthday Offering (1956). chamber:Fantasy for String Quartet (1939); Allegro concertante for Violin and Piano (1944; rev. 1945); Trio for Violin, Viola, and Cello (1945); String Quartet (1946; rev. 1981); Clarinet Sonatina (1948); Violin Sonata (1950); Duos for 2 Violins (1954); Quartet for 2 Trumpets, Horn, and Trombone (1957); Wind Quintet (1957); 17 Pieces for Guitar (1962–70). keyboard: piano:3 Sea Changes (1945–72; rev. 1981); Chaconne (1946); 2 sonatinas (1946, 1962); Sonata (1949); 9 Short Pieces (1965–66; rev. 1967). organ:Prelude and Fugue (1944). vocal:Prodigal Country for Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1939); Elegy: In memoriam Noel Newson for 2 Voices and Strings (1945); 3 Songs for Voice and Piano (1947–54); Elegy for Baritone and Piano (1951); Sings Harry for Baritone and Piano, or Tenor and Guitar (1954); 3 Poems of the Sea for Narrator and Strings (1958); 3 Songs for Baritone and Viola (1958). electronic:The Return (1965); Poem in Time of War (1967); Summer Voices (1969); Expo ’70 Dance Sequence (1970); 3 Inscapes (1972); Carousel (1976); Winterset (1976); Of Time and Nostalgia (1977); Triptych (1977); Soundscape with Lake and River.(1979).


V Harris and P. Norman, eds., D. L: A Festschrift for D. L. on His Retirement from the Victoria University of Wellington (Wellington, 1980); P. Norman, The Beginnings and Development of a New Zealand Music: The Life and Work of D. L., 1940–65 (diss., Univ. of Canterbury, Christchurch, 1983).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire