Douglas Lilburn was born in 1915 on the 2nd of November in a Maternity in Wanganui. He was the youngest son of Robert and Rosamund Lilburn and lived on and farmed the Drysdale station in the upper Turakina valley of the North Island.
In 1920 he attended "Friends school" for primary and prep. In 1929 he went to Waitaki Boys High School, In the south island. He showed great musical talent and got caned during his first week of school for using the piano out of hours.
In 1934 Douglas Lilburn enrolled for a Ba and a diploma of Journalism at Canterbury University College, but soon dropped back to music. In 1936 he achieved a diploma in music. In 1936 his composition "Forest", that had won a Percy Granger Contest, was first performed, he also moved to London in 1937.
In 1940 he returned to NZ and in 1942 the BBCSO recorded his Aotearoa Overture.
In 1941 to 1946 he was a freelance composer and teacher and in 1946 he took a composers class at the Cambridge music school.
He held a part time position (lecturer and professor) at the Victoria University and in 1966 he set up an electronic music studio. He gained an honorary doctorate at Otago University in 1969. In 1978 he got the canz sitation for NZ music and in 1988 an order of NZ medal
On the 6 June 2001 Douglas Lilburn died.