Author Topic: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001  (Read 6284 times)

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Online vandermolen

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Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« on: August 06, 2007, 10:42:04 AM »
I don't think that there's a Lilburn thread on the new Forum and as my Arnell thread has now gone into melt-down I thought that I'd start one on this great New Zealand composer, whose music I love; especially the first two symphonies and much of the orchestral work, such as the wartime Aotearoa Overture, A Song of the Islands and the Festival Overture.

He studied with Vaughan Williams in London (and sent VW jam and other goodies from New Zealand during the war, as there was rationing in Britain). He went a bit atonal and electronic after the Third Symphony (which I like but not as much as the first two).

There are three recordings of the symphonies (they helpfully fit on to one CD) on Continuum, Kiwi Pacifi and Naxos. I have them all and, to be quite frank, there is not much difference between them. So, the Naxos version is the best value and recently Naxos issued a further, excellent, CD of Lilburn's other orchestral music, including the only recording of the tone poem "Forest".

In these works, and the first two symphonies, the main influences seem to be Sibelius and Vaughan Williams but I think that Lilburn is a fine composer in his own right.

Any views?
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Scriptavolant

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2007, 11:38:33 AM »
I purchased his "Orchestral works" on Naxos long ago, but never really gave careful listening except for the Aotearoa Ouverture. In this piece the Sibelius influences push almost to the limit of plagiarism. Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit but the theme in the Ouverture sounded really similar to the one in Sibelius' Third symphony, third movement.
It is a youthful work so I'd have to listen more to pick a complete picture.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2007, 11:50:00 AM »
I purchased his "Orchestral works" on Naxos long ago, but never really gave careful listening except for the Aotearoa Ouverture. In this piece the Sibelius influences push almost to the limit of plagiarism. Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit but the theme in the Ouverture sounded really similar to the one in Sibelius' Third symphony, third movement.
It is a youthful work so I'd have to listen more to pick a complete picture.

Thanks, try "A Song of the Islands" which is a bit later than the overture and where you may find the Sibelius influence more integrated.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Harry

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2007, 12:54:10 PM »
Both Naxos discs are wonderful samples of this man's genius. :)

Offline Solitary Wanderer

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2007, 01:08:34 PM »
I have The Three Symphonies on Continuum with the NZSO conducted by John Hopkins.

I think this version may be OOP as I couldn't find it on-line; only the James Judd versions.

Lilburn's music is great with the comparison to Vaughan-Williams and Sibelius very apt.

Lilburn's later electronic music is also of interest. His music pops up now and then in documentaries here.
'I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.' ~ Emily Bronte

Online vandermolen

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2007, 09:43:09 PM »
I have The Three Symphonies on Continuum with the NZSO conducted by John Hopkins.

I think this version may be OOP as I couldn't find it on-line; only the James Judd versions.

Lilburn's music is great with the comparison to Vaughan-Williams and Sibelius very apt.

Lilburn's later electronic music is also of interest. His music pops up now and then in documentaries here.


Thanks, I wasn't aware of any of Lilburn's electronic music on CD. Can you recommend anything please? Also, where is "here"?
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Scriptavolant

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2007, 11:21:48 PM »
Also, where is "here"?

New Zealand I guess.

Offline sound67

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2007, 07:10:57 AM »
There are three recordings of the symphonies (they helpfully fit on to one CD) on Continuum, Kiwi Pacifi and Naxos.

And who conducted the third version (Hopkins, Judd, and ...)?
"Vivaldi didn't compose 500 concertos. He composed the same concerto 500 times" - Igor Stravinsky

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Offline Solitary Wanderer

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2007, 01:17:27 PM »
Also, where is "here"?

New Zealand I guess.

Correct :)


Thanks, I wasn't aware of any of Lilburn's electronic music on CD. Can you recommend anything please?

I'll have a hunt around. Its pretty abstract the stuff what I've heard. Very different to his orchestral compositions. :)
'I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.' ~ Emily Bronte

Online vandermolen

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2007, 01:49:42 PM »
And who conducted the third version (Hopkins, Judd, and ...)?


Ashley Heenan (Symphony 2 on the Kiwi Pacific label) I think that John Hopkins conducts all three symphonies on Continuum and 1 and 3 on Kiwi Pacific but that the Continuum versions are later recordings.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2007, 02:14:18 PM »
Yes, I too am a considerable fan of the Lilburn symphonies(surprise, surprise!). I can actually claim to have the Oryx LP of the Third Symphony issued in October 1969 which is, presumably, the first time John Hopkins recorded the work. (I also have the Continuum CD version of the three symphonies and the Naxos collection of other orchestral works.) The Oryx LP also contains David Farquhar's Symphony of which I was less fond. Wonder what happened to him?

Lilburn's music certainly seems to have developed far from the earlier works to embrace more of the avant-garde(the same very considerable change can be seen in the music of the Dutch composer Henk Badings.) Yes the first two symphonies were certainly influenced by Sibelius and by Vaughan Williams but are none the worse for that! Originality in music can be over-rated. There are profound virtues in music which are simply timeless. (I wish that I could remember the CD insert note where Malcolm MacDonald wrote so eloquently about the concept of 'originality' in music.)

Are there other composers from New Zealand worth our attention, I wonder?

Offline sound67

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2007, 05:11:27 PM »
The Oryx LP also contains David Farquhar's Symphony of which I was less fond. Wonder what happened to him?

http://www.trustcds.com/pages/artists/Farquhar.html

Thomas
"Vivaldi didn't compose 500 concertos. He composed the same concerto 500 times" - Igor Stravinsky

"Mozart is a menace to musical progress, a relic of rituals that were losing relevance in his own time and are meaningless to ours." - Norman Lebrecht

Greta

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2007, 12:12:49 PM »
Resurrecting this as I just heard the Symphony No. 2 on the radio (NZSO with Hopkins)! First thing I've ever heard by Lilburn. :)

I loved it, and the recording is great, his brass writing handled brilliantly by the orchestra. I will definitely have to get ahold of this! I'm not sure what comparison is apt, a little bit of Sibelius, but he also brought to mind something of 20th c. American music too. Description: noble, invigorating, triumphant, a sense of space in the orchestration...style: very tonal and accessible, though with some interesting twists and turns. The 2nd Symphony is a beautiful work, extremely enjoyable to listen to.  :D

1st and 3rd Symphonies, how are they compared with the 2nd, which are your favorites?

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2007, 12:51:06 PM »
Resurrecting this as I just heard the Symphony No. 2 on the radio (NZSO with Hopkins)! First thing I've ever heard by Lilburn. :)

I loved it, and the recording is great, his brass writing handled brilliantly by the orchestra. I will definitely have to get ahold of this! I'm not sure what comparison is apt, a little bit of Sibelius, but he also brought to mind something of 20th c. American music too. Description: noble, invigorating, triumphant, a sense of space in the orchestration...style: very tonal and accessible, though with some interesting twists and turns. The 2nd Symphony is a beautiful work, extremely enjoyable to listen to.  :D

1st and 3rd Symphonies, how are they compared with the 2nd, which are your favorites?

If you liked the 2nd Symphony then you should be equally taken by the 1st because it inhabits much the same aural landscape(which you describe so well!)
Yes, the music is reminiscent of Sibelius in some ways with the added influence of Lilburn's teacher, Vaughan Williams, but-as you say-there is something of that bracing, outdoors feel which one senses in some contemporary American music. I have always wanted to visit New Zealand and Lilburn's music seems to evoke the fantastic natural landscapes of that country!

The 3rd Symphony is very short(14 minutes) and a deal more enigmatic and elliptical. Lilburn was absorbing contemporary European influences by this time and would shortly afterwards embark on an interest in electronic music. The 3rd certainly does not have the same sort of open air melodic sound as the 1st and 2nd but is worth hearing nevertheless.

Hope that helps!

Online vandermolen

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2007, 12:14:19 AM »
Resurrecting this as I just heard the Symphony No. 2 on the radio (NZSO with Hopkins)! First thing I've ever heard by Lilburn. :)

I loved it, and the recording is great, his brass writing handled brilliantly by the orchestra. I will definitely have to get ahold of this! I'm not sure what comparison is apt, a little bit of Sibelius, but he also brought to mind something of 20th c. American music too. Description: noble, invigorating, triumphant, a sense of space in the orchestration...style: very tonal and accessible, though with some interesting twists and turns. The 2nd Symphony is a beautiful work, extremely enjoyable to listen to.  :D

1st and 3rd Symphonies, how are they compared with the 2nd, which are your favorites?

Dundonnell is right. If you like No 2 you should love No 1 which is my favourite. No 3 is not so approachable but also worthwhile. Also, there is a fine Naxos CD with shorter orchestral works "Song of the Islands" etc, which is very much in the spirit of the first two symphonies.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Benji

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2007, 02:55:14 PM »
Anyone who hasn't already: It's worth checking out the American composer Randall Thompson's 3 symphonies if you're a fan of Lilburn's refreshing outdoor idiom. There is a disc on Koch which you can probably get on Amazon marketplace for cheap. Well worth getting to know.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2007, 03:41:48 PM »
Anyone who hasn't already: It's worth checking out the American composer Randall Thompson's 3 symphonies if you're a fan of Lilburn's refreshing outdoor idiom. There is a disc on Koch which you can probably get on Amazon marketplace for cheap. Well worth getting to know.

Yes indeed! Randall Thompson is almost completely forgotten these days. He seldoms gets a mention amongst the American symphonists but his three symphonies are quite splendid, tuneful compositions. I have them on two separate Koch discs-No.1 coupled with Morton Gould's Fall River Legend and Nos.2 and 3 coupled together. And, of course, they are played by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Sedares and the late Andrew Schenck(a conductor who excelled in Samuel Barber's music too and who died tragically young).

Offline some guy

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2007, 09:17:37 AM »
Lilburn left off composing for instruments to write electroacoustic music in the early 60's. I think his third symphony was his last major work for acoustic instruments. His electroacoustic music has to be seen as a continuation of his earlier work, the final full blossoming of everything he'd valued up to that point. That's how he saw it, anyway: "For the first time, I began to enter into my own total heritage of sound...."

The entire oeuvre is on a 3CD/1DVD set on atoll, ACD 404.

As for Farquhar, last I checked he was alive and composing. There's a CD of his three (so far) symphonies on Massey University MMT 2060 (www.trustcds.com). I like his symphonies a lot (though none of them as much as Lilburn's 3rd), but Farquhar never went over to electronics, so I like Lilburn's total oeuvre more. To each his own...!
« Last Edit: October 19, 2007, 09:20:28 AM by some guy »

Online vandermolen

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2014, 10:50:22 PM »
Just discovered a very good CD of 'Douglas Lilburn-Masterworks for Strings', including a very fine String Quartet which reminded me of Schubert.
Picture of CD won't work but it is easy to find on Amazon.
Another one of my successful threads - only seven years since anyone posted on it.  8)
« Last Edit: July 30, 2014, 12:04:36 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline yippyman

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Re: Douglas Lilburn 1915-2001
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2014, 08:20:27 AM »
Lilburn definitely plagiarized. I'm listening to "Forest (Tone Poem) (1936)." There's a long slow section where he's building up and he uses Sibelius 5th Symphony thirds -- same notes, harmonies, everything. You can't miss it!