1 Mar 2015

Douglas Lilburn's Christchurch Years

From Composer of the Week, 9:00 am on 1 March 2015

In 2015 we celebrate 100 years since pioneering New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn's birth.

Douglas Lilburn at his piano (195-?) © Alexander Turnbull Library. Reference: PAColl-7737-3-04 All rights reserved.

Lilburn’s biographer Philip Norman looks at the music from Lilburn’s early composing career, when he was based in Christchurch.

Percy Grainger expedited Lilburn’s composing career by offering prize money for a “typical New Zealand composition”, which Lilburn went on to win. As Philip Norman explains in the programme, this was somewhat surprising for the following reasons:

Lilburn was a third year music student at Canterbury University College at the time the competition was announced. He had never heard a symphony orchestra live, and had composed nothing to suggest he even had any aptitude for composing.