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28 February 2011

Clive Douglas - a new biography

Clive Douglas - a new biography

Composer and conductor Clive Douglas (1903-1977) occupied a crucial position for thirty years as a staff conductor for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He championed the music of his fellow Australian composers and was himself among the first to integrate Indigenous Australian music to traditional Western music in a series of orchestral works and operas.

A new biography, released this March by Wirripang and written by Douglas's daughter Lynne Gavin Douglas, documents Douglas's career and includes an accompanying CD with digitally remastered recordings of his compositions Carwoola (1939), Kaditcha, Corroboree (1938) and Namatjira (1956).

Lynne Gavin Douglas tells about her work on the biography:

'A chance meeting in 2006 with a music colleague of my late father convinced me to launch into the writing of a biography. I had grown up in a musical world where both my father and mother shared a special musical dream. It was a dream shared by their generation. As his daughter, I participated in my father's active career years: he was always at work, as both composer and conductor of orchestras around Australia until his death in 1977.'

She soon realised she had set herself a difficult task - the birth and development of radio broadcasting, the establishment of concert-going audiences and the emergence of home-grown talent during this 'golden age' provided a fascinating backdrop, but background material proved elusive and the work meant visiting numerous archives (including the National Library, the ABC Sound Archives, APRA, the Percy Grainger Museum, and others) and transcribing records from these collections.

'Only a handful of biographies existed about this time in music in Australia. And funding for such a project is meager indeed. I had taken on the roles of not only writer but also financier, producer, publicist... I needed to liase with editors, typists, publishers, sound recording engineers, and photographers. All in all, my project took five years.'

The book The golden age - Clive Douglas, D.Mus, 1903-1977, Australian composer and conductor will be officially launched on 18 March at the Percy Grainger Museum in Melbourne. The book can be ordered now through the AMC Shop.

Further links

Order the book through the AMC Shop at $30 (AMC members get a 10% discount)
Clive Douglas biography (AMC Online)
Recordings of Carwoola and Kaditcha, Corroboree on the ABC Classic FM's 'classic amp' website

Subjects discussed by this article:

The Australian Music Centre connects people around the world to Australian composers and sound artists. By facilitating the performance, awareness and appreciation of music by these creative artists, it aims to increase their profile and the sustainability of their art form. Established in 1974, the AMC is now the leading provider of information, resources, materials and products relating to Australian new music.


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