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Mark Morris’s Guide to Twentieth Century Composers

Front Page

HOLLAND

───────────────────────────────────────

Introduction

The music of the Netherlands had a glorious history in the Renaissance period, but then almost completely faded into obscurity until the end of the 19th century, when a revival laid the groundwork for Holland's vigorous 20th-century compositional life. Bernard Zweers (1854-1924) sought nationalistic subjects for his German-Romantic idiom, notably in the Symphony No.3 `To My Country' (1890), but it was Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921) who was the major figure in this revival. Initially influenced by Wagner, his music became increasingly Impressionistic following his discovery of the music of Debussy in 1910. His main achievements were in the field of lieder, with settings of a number of German Romantic poets, often with orchestral accompaniment, and settings of French poets, mainly with piano. Johan Wagenaar (1862-1941) produced a number of late-Romantic tone-poems, mostly on lighter or wittier subjects.

The main figures of the following generation were Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967), whose achievement was not fully appreciated until the last decade of his life, and Willem Pijper (1894-1947), who extended his tonal idiom with the use of bitonality, his rhythms with polyrhythmic ideas, and his structures with the use of germ-cells from which, with rhythmic figures, the subsequent material is developed. His influence on Dutch music was considerable through both his music and his teaching. Three figures, all pupils of Pijper, stand out from among the following generation. Guillaume Landré (1905-1968) used monothematic procedures in a generally elegiac idiom, eventually using a loose form of 12-tone techniques; his major works include four symphonies, four string quartets, and a number of orchestral works. Henk Badings (1907-1982) initially came to prominence with powerful symphonies, and then from the 1950s with an exploration of the possibilities of electronics, notably in stage works. Kees van Baaren (1906-1970) became a major Dutch teacher, and was the pioneer of 12-tone techniques in Holland, which appear in the Wind Trio of 1936; his Septet (1952) for violin, double-bass and wind quintet was the first major Dutch work to follow strict 12-tone procedures throughout. His later works include a 12-tone symphony and works where a number of 12-tone rows are used simultaneously, with elements of `total serialism'.

Ton de Leeuw (born 1926) was one of the Dutch pioneers of electronic music; his brother Reinbert de Leeuw (born 1939) has been influenced by Cage and by minimalism. Otto Ketting (born 1935), best known for Time Machine (1972) for wind and percussion, uses a direct and lyrical idiom of clean, almost unemphasized instrumentation, and a sense of precision and muted effect. The overall style draws on the heritage of the 12-tone composers (especially Berg) and of Stravinsky, but synthesized into a mainstream idiom, as in the song cycle on ancient Egyptian texts, The Light of the Sun (1978, revised 1983) for soprano and orchestra. His opera Ithaka (1986) has an unusual surrealist text (in English) following the fantasies of a journalist, a poet and an ex-model in dream sequences distorting time and reality, and shows his sense of muted dramatic effect to good advantage. Peter Schat (born 1935) was initially influenced by Boulez, then exploring aleatory elements, as in the Improvisations and Symphonies (1962) for wind quintet, which also requires players to move around. His spectacular opera Labyrinth (1966) used multi-media techniques, electronics, the chorus in the audience, a counter-plot (sung in Latin), film and dance. In the 1960s, following a visit to Cuba, his music became overtly political. He was one of the composers involved in the major Dutch avant-garde event of the late 1960s, the anti-American collectivist opera Reconstructione (1969, with Louis Andriessen and Ton de Leeuw, among others). In the 1980s his idiom moved away form the avant-garde, and his recent works include two symphonies.

One family has had a major role in 20th-century Dutch music. Hendrik Andriessen (1892-1981) was especially known for his clean-textured liturgical music, but his concert works include four symphonies and the Ricercare (1950) for orchestra, which commemorated the 200th anniversary of the death of J.S.Bach and is perhaps his best-known work. Its combination of a neo-classical rhythmic impulse and broad, clear colours is reminiscent of Martinů, and the work, well-known in Europe in the 1950s, is recommended. His brother Willem Andriessen (1887-1964) was also a composer and a concerto pianist. Hendrik's sons, Jurriaan Andriessen (born 1925) and Louis Andriessen (born 1936) are both composers, and the latter has been the most influential Dutch composer of the 1970s and 1980s. By the middle 1970s he had evolved a minimalist style with features similar to that of Philip Glass in the U.S.A., but with a more varied harmonic palette and a more abrasive style, combined with left-wing philosophical subjects and influences from popular music, especially in instrumentation. These works have been widely influential on a younger generation of composers in Europe and New York. By the middle of the 1980s he had synthesized the more overtly repetitive elements of the minimalist style into a broader mainstream idiom.

Holland has been fortunate in having one of the finest of the European orchestras, the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, and has produced some distinguished conductors, notably Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951), who built the reputation of the Concertgebouw following his appointment as conductor in 1895. The contribution of the huge Dutch electronics conglomerate Philips has also been considerable. In the compositional field, they helped pioneer electronic music; in the consumer field they invented the cassette, and with Sony of Japan they developed the Compact Disc.

Netherlands Music Information Centre:

Gaudeamus Foundation

Swammerdamstraat 38

1091 RV Amsterdam

tel: +31 20 6947349

fax: +31 20 6947258

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ANDRIESSEN

BADINGS

de LEEUW

PIJPER

VERMEULEN

───────────────────────────────────────

ANDRIESSEN Louis

born 6th June 1939 at Utrecht

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Louis Andriessen has become one of the better-known of the younger Dutch composers through his minimalist works of the 1970s, which have been widely heard in Europe and the United States, and which have been influential on a younger generation of composers on both sides of the Atlantic.

His earlier music utilized a free 12-tone style, often with hints of tonality and quotations from earlier musics, as in Anachrony I (1967) for orchestra, which includes sections following strict 12-tone principles, but also quotations from Bach's St.Matthew Passion and Roussel's Symphony No.3. By 1970 his work had become overtly experimental, and also political (as in Volkslied [National Hymn], 1971, and Workers' Union, 1975), and he founded a wind ensemble, `De Volharding' (`Perseverance'), its name drawn from a piece of the same title (1972). But it was with Hoketus (1977) that Andriessen established his minimalist style and his international reputation, especially through performances by the group of the same name that was subsequently formed, with Andriessen as pianist. Generally, his instrumentation has favoured wind and brass instruments, so that orchestral sound is created around the brass and wind rather than the strings.

Andriessen's minimalist style has affinities with Glass, especially in sudden harmonic gear-shifts, and with Reich in some of its rhythmic features, but is distinguished by his willingness to let dissonant elements intrude, as well as elements of performer choice. A particular feature of his Minimalism has been a development of the 14th-century concept of `hoquetus' (hocket) in which a phrase is sung by another voice in fast alternation. In Andriessen's Minimalism these alternations fall on top of each other (recalling the derivation of the word `hocket' from the French for `hiccup'), similar to a technique used in Peruvian pipe-playing. In Hoketus (1977) for small ensemble electronically amplified, a repetitive phrase, based on two notes, is started alternately by two groups, and additions are gradually made to the basic length of the phrase, thus building a sense of acceleration while maintaining the basic tempo. Changes are created by altering the two notes and the gradual addition of other rhythmic ideas. The effect is startling, with a mesmerizing, almost motoric insistence, unrelieved by the kind of diatonic harmonies found in the works of Glass. Its length is determined by the players (who have choice in the number of repetitions), and it can appear either uncompromisingly harsh or fascinating, depending on one's mood.

Some of these minimalist techniques had already been used in a major work, De Staat (The Republic, 1973-1976), discussing the place of music in politics by drawing on text from Plato. Its basis in tetrachords (groups of four notes) is paralleled by the forces: four of women's voices, horns, trumpets, trombones, and violas, with two electric guitars, a bass guitar, two pianos and two harps. The parallel with the music of Glass is marked at the opening, especially in the entry of the women's voices following the establishment of the initial repetitive phrases. But it eventually moves into more diverse and complex use of repetitive ideas, swelling and falling counter-phrases, hoketus effects, subtle changes of colour, allusions to Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, before a polyrhythmic and polytonal ending, with cluster-like writing for the chorus, that emerges into a return of Stravinsky allusions. This more complex idiom makes De Staat one of the most vital and varied of all minimalist works.

De Tijd (1981) explored the concept of time frozen in the present. Mausoleum (1979) for two baritones and large wind ensemble with piano and percussion, combined some of the insistence of Hoketus, notably in the use of the major second as a repetitive basis, and the variety of De Staat with chant-like vocal writing, without displacing either of the earlier works. The pure repetitive minimalist effects are merged with other orchestral effects to create a more obviously `mainstream' idiom, especially in the slow dirge that makes up the end of the work. The texts are drawn from Bakunin, setting out his anarchist beliefs (shared by the composer) and from a poem about Bakunin by Arthur Arnould. The dry De Snelheid (Velocity, 1983) for orchestra explores different tempi and pulses, using high percussion as a metronome and dividing the orchestra into three groups, but it is a sterile work, showing the pitfalls of the preoccupation with minimalist means rather than content.

Andriessen has taught at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague since 1974, and co-authored a book on Stravinsky (1983).

───────────────────────────────────────

works include:

- Symphony for Open Strings

- Anachronie II for oboe and chamber orch.

- Anachronie I, three Ittrospezione, De Snelheid, De Stijl and De Tijd for orch. or large ensemble; Contra Tempus for 22 players; On Jimmy Yancey for wind ensemble; Spektakel for ensemble with jazz musicians; Symphonies of the Netherlands for wind band

- Melodie for recorder and piano; Hoketus for small ensemble

- Registers for piano; Series for 2 pianos

- Nocturnen for soprano and chamber orch.

- Mausoleum for 2 baritones and wind ensemble; De Staat for four women's voices and ensemble

- music theatre Doctor Nero, Georges Sand, Matthew Passion and Orpheus

- electronic works

- film scores

───────────────────────────────────────

recommended works:

Hoketus (1977) for small ensemble

De Staat (1973-1976) for four women's voices and ensemble

───────────────────────────────────────

BADINGS Henk

born 17th January 1907 at Bandung, Java

died 26th June 1987 at Maarheeze

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With Pijper, Henk Badings was the major figure of Dutch music in the 20th century, once well known internationally, but now virtually forgotten outside Holland. His output was vast: nearly 500 compositions in virtually all the musical genres. He made his reputation with a series of rugged and rather stern symphonies, their emphasis on counterpoint following the tradition of Hindemith. Their use of a tonal base with scales built from six or eight notes creates suggestions of modality, and there are often polytonal passages. His formal structures emphasize taut integration, so that in the Symphony No.2 (1932) the finale uses varied themes from the earlier movements, while the five subjects of the fugue finale of the choral Symphony No.6 (1953) use motifs from preceding movements, capped by a finale in which the chorus sings four of the themes, and the orchestra play the fifth, evolving into a full theme that contains the smaller motifs heard earlier. Elsewhere Badings employed his teacher Pijper's technique of building material from germ-cells, as in the Symphony No.4 (1943).

The best known of the symphonies is the Symphony No.3 (1934). The character of this powerful symphony is given at the outset, with dense swirling textures over the main thrust in the rugged opening, then contrasted with an elegiac theme, itself multi-stranded in its contrapuntal writing. This contrast, between the tough, turbulent, almost martial, with a vigorous rhythmic drive, and the more reflective, permeates the symphony. Its restless, almost nervous energy is tautly contained in the overall construction, and with its touches of piquant irony in a scherzo that becomes almost mawkish; with its tragic and sparse slow movement, it seems to herald the coming war in a similar fashion to Vaughan Willams's Symphony No.4 of the same year. From the same period comes the first of four works titled Symphonic Variations (1936), using two contrasting themes in nine variations laid out symphonically.

In the 1940s Badings lightened the sterner tone and harmonic density with more lyrical thematic ideas, though the darker hue could return in such works as the powerful String Quartet No.3 (1944). The major work of this period, besides the third, fourth, fifth and sixth symphonies, was the ballet Orpheus en Euridike (1941) for baritone, chorus and orchestra, in which Orpheus is played by an actor rather than a dancer. The flowing writing of the extended Ballade (1950) for flute and harp shows this lighter touch, and a technique of building scales from alternate major and minor seconds. The culmination of this period was the Concerto for Two Violins No.1 (1954).

However from 1952 Badings became interested in electronic music, while continuing to write more conventional works. Of particular interest is the use of electronics in stage works. The radio opera Orestes (1954) used a musique-concrète score, including the speeding up of a taped male chorus as the Eumenides. Another radio opera, Asterion, used a similar technique of the electronic manipulation of musical or natural sounds, while the television opera Salto Mortale (1957) used a purely electronic-generated accompanying tape. The ballet Kain (1956, on the biblical Cane and Abel story) also used a electronic score, using pure tones suggesting more conventional melodic ideas, but created electronically, not through music-concrète techniques.

The kind of sounds that Badings was able to create in his electronic scores influenced some of his later orchestral works, which have equivalent sounds produced by purely orchestral means. In these later works he sometimes combined instruments with electronics, and also experimented with more complex scales, developing a micro-tonal scale of 31 notes. This was used in such works as the Concerto for Two Violins No.2 (1969) and in the Sonata for Two Violins No.3 (1967). His later operas included Martin Korda D.P. (1960), which denounced Soviet gulag camps.

Badings helped create the Philips electronic studio in Eindhoven, but his later career was haunted by his war-time activities; the Nazis described him as `the very model of a Nationalist Socialist artist', and until the end of his life protests met the premieres of a number of his works. After the war he gradually reestablished his reputation, notably through his teaching activities at Utrecht University (1961-1972) and the Stuttgart Musikhochschule (1962-1972), but the lingering memory of his collaboration may have hampered a wider dissemination of his music outside Holland.

───────────────────────────────────────

works include (from almost 500 works):

- 14 symphonies (No.6 with choral forces); Symphonietta

- concerto for bassoon, double bassoon and orch.; 2 flute concertos; harp concerto; concerto for three horns, wind and tape; 2 organ concertos; 2 piano concertos (No.2 Atlantic Dances); concerto for piano and 2 tapes; two piano concerto; saxophone concerto; concerto for viola and strings; 4 violin concertos; 2 two violin concertos; concertino for piano and chamber orch.

- Heroic Overture, Pittsburgh Concerto, 3 works titled Symphonic Variations and other works for orch.

- 2 solo cello sonatas; solo harp sonata; 3 solo violin sonatas; 3 cello sonatas (one unnumbered); viola sonata; 4 violin sonatas (one unnumbered); 3 sonatas for 2 violins; trio for flute, viola and guitar; piano trio; trio for 2 violins and piano; trio for 2 violins and viola; wind trio; 4 string quartets; 2 piano quintets; 2 wind quintets and a large number of other chamber works

- 6 piano sonatas; 4 piano sonatines; 7 volumes of Arcadia and other piano works

- 12 Preludes for guitar; It is Dawning in the East for guitar and organ; 4 Praeludium and Fugue and other organ works; Music for organ and tape

- songs and song cycles; 7 Kantate; oratorio Jonah for soloists, chorus, orch, and tape; St.Mark Passion for soloists, male chorus, orch. and tape and many other choral works

- ballets including Kain and Orpheus en Euridike

- operas Liedfde's listen, Martin Korda D.P. and De nachtwacht; radio operas Asterion and Orestes; television opera Salto mortale

- electronic works

───────────────────────────────────────

recommended works:

Symphony No.3 (1934)

Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra No.1 (1954)

───────────────────────────────────────

bibliography:

J.Wouters Henk Badings, 1971 (in Dutch)

───────────────────────────────────────

de LEEUW Ton

born 16th November 1926 at Rotterdam

died 31st May 1996 at Paris

───────────────────────────────────────

Ton de Leeuw was one of the first Dutch composers to make extensive use of electronics in his music, and has an especial interest in the spatial structure of slow changes in sound that not only reflect electronic possibilities, but also the influence of the Asian music traditions that he has studied.

Much of his work uses a favourite device, the octave divided by its fourth/fifth. Obvious spatial effects are found in such works as Spatial Music I (1965-1966) for 32-48 instruments, but also in such structural devices as the repetition of a movement within another movement (Mouvements rétrogrades, 1957, for orchestra) or the Hindu technique of dividing larger time units into three smaller ones. Gamelan music is an influence in Haiku II (1968) for soprano and orchestra, Lamento Pacis II (1969) for choir and instruments, and Gending (1975) for gamelan orchestra. Many of these traits were drawn together in a triptych on Biblical texts, of which Car nos vignes sont et fleur (1980) for a cappella choir uses a kind of vocal tuning system before reaching the texts, and micro-intervals.

His electronic music falls into two periods. Study (1957) used serial procedures and microtones, while Antiphonie (1960) matched a wind quintet and four tape tracks. Then until 1977 (by which time development of electronics had opened new possibilities) de Leeuw wrote little electronic music. But in Mountains (1977) for bass clarinet and tape, he applied Hindustani vocal techniques to the material, while in the Magic of Music II (1978) for voices, speaker and tape, on Indian texts, the singer's first realization of the score is taped and replayed while they improvise to the replay. This in turn is taped, and the process repeated four times, gradually building sonorities. European folk-music, including drones, has influenced two purely electronic works, Chronos (Time, 1980) and Clair-Obscur (1982). An interesting introduction to his music is through the String Quartet No.2, which exists in two versions, for quartet alone (1964) and with tape (1965).

De Leeuw initiated and directed the electronic studio in the Sweelinck Conservatory, Amsterdam.

───────────────────────────────────────

works include:

- Symphonies of Winds for wind orchestra; Ombres for orch.; Music for Strings

- Night Music for flute solo; Music for Violin; Midare for marimba solo; Lamento Pacis for choir and instrumental ensemble;

- Men go their ways for piano;

───────────────────────────────────────

recommended work:

String Quartet No.2 (1964) for quartet alone or (1965) with tape

───────────────────────────────────────

PIJPER Willem

born 8th September 1894 at Zeist

died 18th March 1947 at Leidschendam

───────────────────────────────────────

Willem Pijper is the best-known Dutch composer of the century, whose influence was considerably extended by his activities as a teacher (at the Amsterdam College of Music, 1920-1922, the Amsterdam Conservatory, 1925-1930, and as director of the Rotterdam Conservatory, 1930-1947). His pupils included many of the major Dutch composers of the following generation.

The core of his output are the three symphonies and his chamber music. His earliest works came under the influence of Debussy, although the Symphony No.1 (1917-1918, known as Pan) has shades of Mahler. With the two-movement Symphony No.2 (1921) and its very unusual instrumentation (116 instruments including organ, three pianos, six mandolins, celesta and tuned steel plate) Pijper matured into a more individual voice. This was to lead to a period of fruitful individualisation (1920-1930) followed by a gradual simplification of his established style, aimed at a more direct clarity.

The material of the Symphony No.2 is, as in most of his works, built up from cells of ideas, rhythmic, melodic and harmonic (Pijper, an exceptionally erudite man especially in the field of biology, use the term `germ-cells'), and suggests bitonality in much of the treatment. A residue of Mahler remains in the use of mandolins and horn-calls, though not in the tango/habanera rhythms that were to become a particular favourite and whose juxtaposition with declamatory material is the chief feature of this symphony. It is rather an enigmatic work, full of unusual instrumental colours (extremely clear, given the size of the orchestra and the grand fortissimos) and quasi-popular rhythms, purposeful in passing yet seemingly without a goal. The one-movement Symphony No.3 (1926), again with piano and mandolin in the orchestra, remains his best-known work, but it does not seem as inventive as its predecessor, in spite of the touches of jazz and the mysterious atmosphere of the slow second section, hauntingly pointed up by a touch of tango rhythm, and the end that hangs dissonantly in the air. Polymeters (more than one rhythm occurring simultaneously) join polytonality in these works, and are heard again in the Piano Concerto (1927), that virtually alternates solo and orchestral music, again with touches of jazz and blues, in a seven-section single-movement structure.

Of the chamber music, the embryonic bitonal technique appears in some passages of the Violin Sonata No.1 (1919), otherwise lyrical and conventional. Polyrhythms and unusual instrumental effects are found in the Cello Sonata No.1 of the same year. The Septet (1920) initiated Pijper's use of the `germ-cell' principle, while the gentle Flute Sonata (1925), if unmemorable, has a certain Gallic charm and polyrhythmic moments. The Wind Quintet (1928-1929) is equally ingenuous, wearing its contrapuntal complexities on its sleeve. Of the string quartets, String Quartet No.4 (1940) is astringent and abstract, utilizing all his characteristic devices (in the first movement the first violin has 133 bars, the cello 170, such is the effect of the polyrhythms), including such time signatures as 6/2. With its totally inconclusive ending, it emerges as one of his most interesting works. The freer String Quartet No.5 (1946), which shares some devices with its predecessor (e.g. rhythms of two against three) promised to be even finer, but was left unfinished. Of the piano music, the short and dense Sonatina No.2 and Sonatina No.3 of 1925 are infected by blues and jazz, while the Old-Dutch Dances reflect his interest in Dutch folk-music, particularly ballads. This resulted in Pijper editing several collections of folk-songs, and a folk-music influence appears in his choral and vocal settings, notably Herr Halewijn (1920) for eight-part unaccompanied choir. Folk-songs also formed the catalyst for the opera Halewijn (1933-1934). His incidental music shows a fascination with Greek drama, including three scores for Antigone (1920,1922,1926) and others for The Baccantes (1924) and Cyclops (1925).

Sharing some features with his contemporary Vermeulen (polyrhythms, polytonality, though with a different emotional tone), Pijper's music is technically superior, though its lack of an individual voice, of clear-cut purpose, makes it seem less intrinsically rewarding. His use of a scale of alternating whole-tones and semitones has become known in Holland as the `Pijper scale' (although he was not the first to use it - in Russia it is known as the Rimsky-Korsakov scale).

───────────────────────────────────────

works include:

- 3 symphonies (No.1 Pan)

- cello concerto; piano concerto; violin concerto

- Six Adagios and Six Symphonic Epigrams for orch.

- solo violin sonata; 2 cello sonatas; flute sonata; 2 violin sonatas; 2 piano trios; wind trio; 5 string quartets; wind quintet; septet for wind, double-bass and piano; piano sonata

- 2 piano sonatinas; Old-Dutch Music for piano- song-cycles Fêtes galantes and Romance sans paroles

- operas Halewijn and Merlijn (unfinished)

- incidental music for plays

───────────────────────────────────────

recommended works:

Symphony No.2 (1921-1929)

Symphony No.3 (1926)

String Quartet No.4 (1928)

String Quartet No.5 (1946) (incomplete)

───────────────────────────────────────

bibliography:

W.Pijper De quintencircel, 1929 (in Dutch)

De stemvork, 1930 (in Dutch)

───────────────────────────────────────

VERMEULEN Matthijs

born 8th February 1888 at Helmond

died 26th July 1967 at Laren

───────────────────────────────────────

Until recently, Matthijs Vermeulen was recognised in Holland chiefly as a forceful and provocative music critic who strove in the second decade of the century to wrest Dutch music away from the dominance of German models, and steer it towards those of the French. But in the last years of his life, his own music, hitherto hardly performed, began to be heard and appreciated, and he is now considered by many in Holland to be a major composer, an individual voice whose unheard vision was ahead of its time, a Dutch parallel to America's Ives. His music is slowly becoming known outside Holland.

As with many such figures, the claims made for his music seem exaggerated outside a Dutch context, but he is certainly a composer of more than passing interest whose music is rarely dull. His output, dominated by seven symphonies, is little influenced by the French whose cause he espoused (except shades of Debussy in the early songs, and an hedonism that has as many Russian as French parallels). The earliest extant work, the Symphony No.1 `Symphonia carminum' (Symphony of songs, 1912-1914) is Mahlerian, with juxtaposition of martial and pastoral ideas, too untamed to be of real worth. But it includes the hallmarks of Vermeulen's emotional concerns: a tumultuous sense of ecstasy (the closest parallel is perhaps Scriabin) and largely optimistic conclusions expressed by a large orchestra. With the Symphony No.2 `Prélude à la nouvelle journée' (1919-1920) these concerns were dressed in a radically different language. There is a continual flow of long irregular melodic ideas, swapped from instrument to instrument, while different melodic strands progress independently, intersecting in unusual chordal combinations. As a result, although individual melodies may be grounded in one mode or key, the combination of them goes beyond tonality. Polyrhythms (going over bar-lines) contribute to wild moments of ecstatic climax, and extreme orchestral registers highlight unusual instrumental combinations. It is as dense, as vibrant, and sometimes as wild, as a tropical jungle, and for its time it has many remarkable features (making one regret Vermeulen had little opportunity to hear, and thus refine and extend, his style). It is too flawed to be a masterpiece - the narrow insistence, the lack of emotional contrasts, make it a fascinating battering-ram of a work, that had to wait until 1953 before winning a prize at the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels.

The subsequent symphonies take these methods as their point of departure, with Symphony No.5 `Les lendemains chantants' (1941-1945) being the longest and most concentrated. The final Symphony No.7 `Dithyrambes pour le temps à venir' (Dithyrambs for the times to come, 1963-1965) simplifies the language into an almost neo-classical clarity of instrumental flow, nearly motoric in some of its rhythms and instrumental effects. All these works are worth exploring, though ultimately the sense of improvisatory effect fails to mask the lack of symphonic argument or development. The String Trio (1923) and Violin Sonata (1924) reflect the characteristic extravagance of mood, while the String Quartet (1923) translates the density of texture to the chamber medium.

Vermeulen lived near Paris from 1921 to 1946, but then returned to Holland to edit the newspaper De Groene Amsterdammer. His writings include a psychoanalytical view of music (Princiepen der Europese Muziek, 1949). There is now a Matthijs Vermeulen Foundation in The Hague.

───────────────────────────────────────

works (complete):

- 7 symphonies (No.1 Symphonia Carminum, No.2 Prélude à la nouvelle journée, No.3 Thrène et Péan, No.4 Les victoires, No.5 Les lendemains chantants, No.6 Les minutes heureuses, No.7 Dithyrambes pour les temps à venir)

- 2 cello sonatas; violin sonata; string trio; string quartet

- song cycles Trois Chants d'amour (Three love songs) and Trois salutations à Notre Dame (Three greetings to the Virgin Mary); 6 other songs (La Veille in both orchestral and piano versions)

- incidental music to The Flying Dutchman

───────────────────────────────────────

recommended works:

Symphony No.2 Prélude à la nouvelle journée (1919-1920)

Symphony No.7 Dithyrambes pour les temps à venir (1963-1965)

───────────────────────────────────────


 
 


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