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Our Don : a symphonic tribute to Sir Donald Bradman

by Natalie Williams (2014)

Our Don


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Our Don : a symphonic tribute to Sir Donald Bradman / Natalie Williams.

Library shelf no. 784.22/WIL 1 [Available for loan]

Our Don

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Work Overview

Our Don is a symphonic tribute honouring the life and sporting achievements of cricketing great, Sir Donald Bradman AC. The piece was commissioned by the State Government of South Australia, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, for performance by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

This piece brings together many months of research and collaboration with the archives, people and artists who perpetuate Sir Donald Bradman's legacy. The work is intended as a multi-media symphonic stage piece, featuring a narrator and a video collage which accompany the performances of this piece.

The work is a symphonic tribute to the life of Sir Donald, and relates the events and milestones of his cricketing career. The five movements chronicle the public and private aspects of Sir Donald's life.

Movement 1: The Boy from Bowral, tells of Bradman's humble beginnings in the Australian countryside, exploring the circumstances that led to his burgeoning cricketing skill. The piece quotes fragments of bird songs heard in Bowral itself.

Movement 2: Bodyline chronicles the international sporting furore of the early 1930s, when the English and Australian cricket teams engaged in a fierce battle of skill and wits, testing the boundaries of cricketing law and eventually reframing the rules of the sport.

Movement 3: His Greatest Partnership is a "Romance" movement, focusing on Sir Don's private life and particularly his relationship with his wife, Lady Jessie Bradman. This movement quotes the melodic line from a 1930 composition (art song) written by Sir Donald, entitled "Every Day is a Rainbow Day for Me."

Movement 4: The Invincibles covers the story of Bradman's final tour of England in 1947-48, with his "Invincible" Australian cricket team. The movement speaks of the strength and uniqueness of his sporting contribution.

Movement 5: Our Don, a National Hero reflects on Bradman's place in Australian sporting history and national folklore, his contribution to the game as a player and a leader, and the values and beliefs that shaped his life.

The piece pays homage to Sir Don on many levels. Musically, such connections exist as the solmization of his name into a viola melody in movement 1, the quotation of birdsongs heard in Bowral, and music written by (and for) Sir Don from the 1930s, with a key structure based around keys related to his name; D major, G major, Bb Major, B minor and A major. A fugue on the Jack O'Hagan foxtrot "Our Don Bradman" (1930) appears in Movement 5, and rhythmic references to Bradman's batting average (99.94) are seen in the percussive patterns of Movement 2 (mm.2-4).

Work Details

Year: 2014

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, percussion (2 players), strings (, and male narrator.

Duration: 30 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: 1. The Boy from Bowral -- 2. Bodyline -- 3. His Greatest Partnership -- 4. The Invincibles -- 5. Our Don / A National Hero.

Commission note: Commissioned for Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.. Commissioned by the State Government of South Australia

First performance: by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Luke Dollman at Our Don (Adelaide Town Hall) on 14 Aug 2014

Libretto by Natalie Williams (based on the work of Peter Allen).


Resonate article: Insight: Replica and Our Don by Natalie Williams

Performances of this work

14 Aug 2014: at Our Don (Adelaide Town Hall). Featuring Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Luke Dollman.

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