Have you heard? 02. Drysdale Overture

Have you heard? is a showcase for the unconventional, unique and inspiring music out there that never seems to get the limelight it deserves.

Drysdale Overture - Douglas Lilburn (1937)

Douglas Lilburn’s “Drysdale Overture” is a New Zealand piece of music that takes the definition of ‘classical’ music, stretches it a bit and embellishes it into something far more ‘modern’. It is one of the first pieces of music published by Lilburn in a long-spanning career as New Zealand’s most recognised composer.

So how does a hybrid classical-modern orchestral overture constitute an unconventional, unique or inspiring piece of music?

“Drysdale Overture” is a fairly unique piece in its combination of delicate, yet lush, melodies and intricate rhythm and pace. It sets itself as totally different to the masterpieces that came before it. Instead of being about the tones, harmonies and structure that defines a truely classical pieces, it is all about the melodies and instrumentation. There are grand brass swells and soft woodwind solos, but never does any one theme overpower another. It flows through a variety of emotions, guided by a gentle pacing of the strings. Yet, the strings never go crazy, the brass never goes crazy, the woodwind never go crazy. The music is temperate, yet so well instrumented that it seems like it was written fifty years before it’s time.

Personally, my favourite section is from about 8:10 to 8:40. The delicacy of the strings, complete with the brass chords, invoke powerful imagery and emotion and are a fantastic development not he previous recurrences of the same theme.

Although Lilburn’s treasure has not directly influenced any of my own compositions, the style of writing and the instrumentation is something I find inspiring for future pieces.

Happy listening and enjoy!