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Work

1937
Duration:
10' 00"
Instrumentation:
2222; 3230; timp, perc; strs.

Samples

audio/mpeg,936k Recording (936k) 0:00-1:00© Kiwi Pacific
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External Media on Demand

Programme Note

When I arrived at the Royal College of Music in London, in September 1937, and was accepted as a student by Vaughan Williams, he put me through routine disciplines of writing fugues and part-songs, and then one day said: “Isn’t it time you composed something?”

I accepted the challenge and produced by Drysdale Overture, with its nostalgic memories in a musical language which rather disconcerted him. Still more did it upset Sir George Dyson, who brilliantly realised my rough orchestral score on the piano and then said: “Don’t bring me another manuscript like that.” He did, however, give it a reading rehearsal with the RCM first orchestra, and I took steps to improve my musical handwriting.

In those far-off heady days, Hans Keller’s “functional analysis” had hardly impacted on the RCM – we students ignorantly and derisively called it “sweet FA”. And so I may hardly provide an “analytical synopsis”.

With my meagre knowledge of classical forms, I thought that proper overtures should have a solemn introduction, with motifs recalled later in various structural guises, and that they should have a contrasting “second object” – hence my nostalgic oboe tune, with fitting Scottish inflections. Curiously, what might have been a routine “development” turned into a sunlit rondo, nostalgic of childhood happiness.

I’m left with that lovely Mark Twain image of Jim and Huckleberry drifting on their barge down that great river, looking up at the stars and wondering “whether they was made, or only just happened”.

Douglas Lilburn
14 October 1994

Difficulty:
Advanced
Influences:
Dedication:
For my Father, Robert Lilburn, and those others who made Drysdale

Performance History

World Premiere for P: Drysdale Overture; NZBC Orch c. Tyrer; 231140 23 Nov 1940 Performed by the NZ National Broadcasting Service String Orchestra and the 2YA Concert Orchestra conducted by Anderson Tyrer in a live national broadcast on 2YA.
03 Jun 1993 Performed by the Auckland Philharmonia, conducted by Enrique Diemecke
23 Jul 2001 Performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Young
Kenneth Young    New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
16 Feb 2002 Performed by the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Sewell, in Wichita, Kansas, USA.
Andrew Sewell
10 Nov 2002 Performed by the Wellington Youth Sinfonietta conducted by Michael Vinten
Wellington Youth Sinfonietta
14 Nov 2004 Performed by the Wellington Youth Sinfonietta conducted by Michael Vinten at St. Andrews on The Terrace in Wellington
Wellington Youth Sinfonietta
29 Mar 2007 Performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra conducted Giancarlo Guerrero
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
15 Jul 2007 Performed by the Wellington Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Donald Maurice at St Andrew’s on The Terrace in Wellington
26 Sep 2009 Performed by the Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra conducted by Rupert d’Cruze
27 Aug 2011 Performed by the Manukau Symphony Orchestra with conductor Rupert D’Cruze at Genesis Energy Theatre, TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre, in Manukau
Manukau Symphony Orchestra    Rupert D'Cruze
24 Mar 2012 Performed by the Southern Sinfonia with conductor Hamish McKeich at the Regent Theatre, in Dunedin.
Hamish McKeich    Southern Sinfonia
05 Sep 2013 Performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, cond. Christoph Altstaedt
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
04 Jun 2014 Performed by the New Zealand School of Music orchestra and conducted by Kenneth Young, at St Andrews on the Terrace, in Wellington
26 Jul 2015 Performed by the Manawatu Sinfonia and conducted by Peter van Drimmelen at the Speirs Centre in Palmerston North
26 Sep 2015 Performed by Dunedin Youth Orchestra and conducted by David Burchell at Knox Church in Dunedin.

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