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Clive Douglas (1903-1977) : Represented Artist

Random Audio Sample: Five pastels : for soprano, strings and celeste by Clive Douglas, from the CD Works by Aked, McGlynn, Walenn, Orchard, Sutherland, Plush, Douglas, Krips.

Photo of Clive Douglas

Clive Douglas was born on 27 July 1903 at Rushworth, Victoria. His musical studies began at the age of six with piano, and, within a short time, violin, firstly with Franz Schlieblich and later Alberto Zelman, with whom he also studied orchestration and conducting. At the age of twenty-six he commenced a full degree course in music at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, graduating as Bachelor of Music in 1934.

In 1936 he joined the Australian Broadcasting Commission as staff conductor, and between then and his retirement in 1966 appeared as resident, guest or associate conductor with all the Commission's orchestras: 1936-41 Hobart, 1941-7 Brisbane, 1947-53 Sydney (Associate Conductor to Sir Eugene Goossens), 1953-66 Melbourne (Associate & Resident Conductor, Victorian - now Melbourne - Symphony Orchestra)

Dr. Douglas occupied a crucial position for thirty years as a staff conductor for the Australian Broadcasting Commission as well as Conductor and Musical Adviser to the Commonwealth Film Unit (now Film Australia). He was therefore able to champion the music of fellow Australian composers and many works achieved performance through his efforts. He was a Foundation member of the Fellowship of Australian Composers and the Composers' Guild of Australia. In 1963 Dr. Douglas became a Life Fellow of the International Institute of Arts and Letters. His own works frequently represented Australia abroad through the interest of such conductors as Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Sir Henry Wood, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Tibor Paul, Karel Ancerl and Kurt Woess.

The music of Clive Douglas has a secure place in Australian music. Not only was he more technically skillful than most in orchestral writing, but he was the first successfully to attempt the trans-cultural adaptation of indigenous Australian music to traditional Western music, in a series of orchestral works and operas, beginning with Kaditcha (1937-8), op. 19, and ending with Terra Australis for narrator, soprano solo, chorus and orchestra, op. 76 (1959). Many of his works were composed with the intention to locate a specific Australian identity.

He received many pnzes and awards:
Ormond Exhibition, Melbourne University 1929/30/31; Coutts Composition Prize, Melbourne University 1930/31; ABC Composers' Competitions 1933, 1935, 1970; APRA Monetary Award to Composers 1950, 1954, 1961, 1965, 1970; Commonwealth Jubilee Symphony Competition 1951 (Special Prize); Olympic Overture Competition 1956 (lst Award) In 1953 he received the Coronation Medal for services to music, and in 1958 he was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Music, Melbourne University.

During World War II Douglas became involved with Army Education and composed works to display different instruments. In 1944 he developed these examples in Meet the Orchestra, an Educational Suite for orchestra, op. 36, and this work subsequently met with success in Canada and Ireland. His concerts for school children always had a great impact and helped to develop music appreciation for a whole generation of young Australians.

Dr Clive Douglas died on 29 April, 1977.

Analysis & Media

Book: The golden age : Clive Douglas, D.Mus, 1903-1977, Australian composer and conductor / Lynne Gavin Douglas.

Book: One hand on the manuscript : music in Australian cultural history, 1930-1960 / edited by Nicholas Brown, Peter Campbell, Robyn Holmes, Peter Read & Larry Sitsky.

Book: The Australian symphony from Federation to 1960 / Rhoderick McNeill.

Book: The music of Clive Douglas / Matthew Orlovich.

Book: The myth of the musical Jindyworobak : some aspects of the appropriation of Aboriginal culture in the music of Clive Douglas and other arts in Australia / Nicole Saintilan.

- Article: Scored in black and white