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  • Dorothy Freed

  • Born: 1919 Deceased: 2000
  • Fully Represented SOUNZ Composer


Dorothy Freed was born in Dunedin New Zealand in February 1919. She was educated in Melbourne, returning to New Zealand in 1936 where she was employed in secretarial and media work before marrying William Ian Freed in 1940. She continued to work and undertook university study in Wellington and Dunedin while bringing up their three children. She graduated MusB, fromVictoria University of Wellington in 1958 and qualified as a Librarian in 1959. She began her career as a librarian in Wellington, becoming one of the leading music librarians in New Zealand until her retirement in 1986.

Throughout her library career, she was always a strong advocate for the work of her fellow composers, looking for ways to support their work through the Library system and working towards the establishment of a New Zealand Music Centre.

She founded NZ Division of International Association of Music Libraries and published "Music for Amateur Choirs and Orchestras in NZ (1960), “Union List of Manuscripts in NZ Libraries” (1972); “Orchestral Scores – a finding list of performing editions with parts” (1984), and a “Directory of New Zealand Music Organisations” (1986). She has also contributed to major international music publications including “Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians”, the “International Directory of Music Research Libraries” and “Fontes Artis Musicae” (IAML).

From 1964-66, she spent two years in London studying composition with Racine Fricker and Elizabeth Lutyens. Her compositions received awards which include the APRA/Radio NZ Prize (1957); Wellington City Council Prize for Composition(1958); Philip Neill Memorial Prize from the University of Otago (1958) and her advocacy work was recognised by an APRA award for outstanding services in the cause of music (1980); and a Lilburn Trust grant in recognition of services to music librarianship and music in New Zealand (1991). From 1991-93, Dorothy served on the first Composers’ Advisory Panel of the Centre for New Zealand Music which she had been so involved with founding. After her retirement, Dorothy Freed continued to compose and write for various journals. She specialised in vocal music using New Zealand texts and music for the theatre. In 1998 she was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in early 1999 she received the CANZ Citation for Services to New Zealand Music. She died in April 2000.

Selected Works

A Nursery Tale (Goldilocks and the Five Bears) for brass quintet and narrator  
Aquarius March for Brass Band for brass band  
Deserted Beach for soprano and string quintet  
Diversion for Ten Brass Instruments for concert brass  
Lament for Te Wano for a cappella SATB  
Suite for String Orchestra  
The Chinese Terracotta Soldiers For solo piano  
The Sea Child for alto (or mezzo soprano) and piano  
Variations for Woodwind Quintet for oboe, flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon  
Variations on a Fanfare for orchestra  


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