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A complete absence of:
wit & wisdom

A hugely entertaining collection of articles, lyrics and talks from New Zealand composer and author Philip Norman. 

"Whilst rocketing towards decrepitude (one of his chapter titles), Philip reveals an energetic and productive life as a composer, lyricist, writer and conductor. Philip amusingly and convincingly argues that geographical location does not compromise the nature or worth of an artist's expression, a recurring theme in his writings, backed by a substantial body of work documenting and championing the work and lives of many New Zealand composers, including his award-winning biography of Douglas Lilburn. 

He is never afraid to question the validity of opinions held dear by many in our artistic community. 

Other topics include the challenges of a freelance existence, music critics, arts councils, ailing cars, Die Meistersinger in das Wellington Geflügelhaus, blowflies at an Australian barbecue, knightly dalliances in the Dark Ages, gardening as a perennial bondage, and music as a booster of milk production in cows. The reader will be simultaneously informed and charmed. 

To describe the book as having 'a complete absence' of wit and wisdom is an offence under the Fair Trading Act: it is full of both."

- Sir Roger Hall playwright

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Wit & Wisdom can be purchased for $30 + postage and packaging ($7)


For international purchases please contact for shipping options. 

Douglas Lilburn:
His Life and Music

A 21 chapter salute to a cultural icon. Winner of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2007 biography category, this book offers fascinating insights into the world of  New Zealand music, literature and fine art through the eyes and ears of one of New Zealand’s most creative sons, ‘the father of New Zealand composition’, Douglas Lilburn.


Written by Philip Norman, himself a leading New Zealand composer as well as holding a PhD in musicology, the book is a happy blend of meticulous research with the human-interest revelations of Lilburn’s personal papers.


Lilburn was at the vortex of arts activity in New Zealand from 1940 onwards, forging friendships with many of the luminaries of New Zealand’s cultural history – Allen Curnow, Ngaio Marsh, Denis Glover, James K Baxter, Rita Angus, Evelyn Page, Robin Hyde and Charles Brasch to name but a few – as well as associations with New Zealand’s leading arts organizations from the National Film Unit, Landfall and New Zealand Players, to the Royal New Zealand Ballet and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.


The ‘musician with the farmer’s hands’, as Lilburn once described himself, touched and enriched many lives. This biography is a lively account of this complex and extraordinary man.

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What the critics say–

“Philip Norman’s biography of Douglas Lilburn is a ground-breaking achievement for New Zealand music, a publication that will put our leading composer up there alongside his more widely celebrated colleagues in the literary and visual arts.”




“One of the reasons we, as readers, are so fortunate in having Philip Norman’s biography of Douglas Lilburn is that both subject and biographer engage intensely not only with music, but with the written word. Douglas Lilburn: His Life and Music is a rare feat – a critical biography that is … a bloody good read … this is a book to get ecstatic over.”


William Dart The New Zealand Herald 2006

Anne Kennedy Landfall 2013 

Douglas Lilburn: His Life & Music can be purchased for $40 + postage and packaging ($7)


For international purchases please contact for shipping options. 

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John Ritchie at Ninety:

A Festschrift

Compiled and edited by Philip Norman


A charming and illuminating tribute to Emeritus Professor Dr John Ritchie on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday, written by 60 of his friends, colleagues, family and former students, and compiled by fellow composer Dr Philip Norman. Includes over 90 photographs, a complete list of compositions and arrangements, transcripts of interviews, thought-provoking quotes, a biographical time-line and examples of hand-written manuscripts.


Spitfire pilot, composer, conductor, Catholic convert, professor, patron, president of an international music society and father of five: John Ritchie’s colourful and varied life is beautifully encapsulated in this elegant and eloquent publication.  214pp, plus index, soft cover, perfect bound. 

John Ritchie at Ninety edited by Philip Norman

John Ritchie at Ninety can be purchased for $25 + postage and packaging ($7)


For international purchases please contact for shipping options. 

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