Silhouetten – Leo Smit

Leo Smit was the first composer who graduated cum laude in Amsterdam. His Silhouetten was conceived in 1922 during his studies at the Conservatory, and performed three years later by the Concertgebouworkest….  

Almost a century later, Silhouetten is once again performed by the same orchestra, conducted by Stéphane Denève. Further on the program are works by Ravel, Roussel and Poulenk, with Arthur and Lucas Jussen on piano.

Thanks to the curiosity of conductor Stéphane Denève, a mystery has been unraveled: the drawings by Paul Süss that inspired Leo Smit all these years ago have been found. On the first version of the manuscript, the composer wrote ‘after drawings by Paul Süss’.

The score of Silhouetten can be downloaded as PDF for free, this week only.
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Willem de Fesch

Willem de Fesch (also written as Defesch, du Feche, de Feghg, de Veg) is born on August 26, 1687. His parents, Louis de Fesch and Johanna Maasbracht, come from Luik. Their sons Pieter and Willem are born in Alkmaar. The family returns to Luik before 1690. About 1710, Pieter and Willem travel to Holland to establish themselves as musicians in Amsterdam. Willem de Fesch marries the daughter of his violin teacher, Carl Rosier. In 1750, Willem de Fesch withdraws from public life. He dies in London on January 3, 1761.

Willem performs on several occasions – in 1718, 1719 and 1722, in any case – as a concert violinist in Antwerp. He has probably also worked in Amsterdam as a church musician.

In 1725, De Fesch moves to Antwerp, where he succeeds Alphonse d’Eve as kapellmeister at the Cathedral of Our Lady. He soon is in conflict with the church authorities, apparently because of his behaviour. Some complain of his unpredictable, egotistic and negligent character.

Between 1710 and 1725 his first printed works appear: duets for two violins and a number of concertos and sonatas for various small (string) ensembles. The music is in keeping with the stylistic characteristics of the time, but it stands out for its virtuoso cadenzas, apparently those performed by the composer himself.

In the years 1725-1731 Willem de Fesch composes several Masses and instrumental sonatas, which are published in Brussels. These works show greater expressivity and simplicity, as is emerging in the Italian style of the period (Corelli and Vivaldi). De Fesch must ultimately resign from his position in Antwerp.

In 1732, Willem de Fesch moves with his wife to London, where he performs as a violinist, his wife as a singer. London, along with Paris and Milan, is one of the most important music centres of the day. Handel has for some time already had great success there with his operas and (later) oratorios. His first oratorio in English, ‘Esther’, is performed in 1732, and De Fesch’s oratorio ‘Judith’ follows a year later – it is performed again in 1740. The performance of Handel’s oratorio ‘Joseph and his Brethren’ in 1744 is followed in 1745 by De Fesch’s oratorio ‘Joseph‘. When, in 1746, De Fesch becomes the concertmaster of Handel’s orchestra, it becomes clear that there is no rivalry between them. In 1748 and 1749, he conducts the orchestra in Marylebone Gardens. In addition to the aforementioned oratorios, De Fesch composes in London the pastoral serenade ‘Love and Friendship’, the comic opera ‘The London Apprentice’, various sonatas and concertos, and a collection of songs. Some of the English songs are written for theatre productions, such as William Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest‘ in 1746. The texts of his Italian songs are taken mostly from Paolo Rolli’s “Di canzonette e di cantate libri due”.

De Fesch was not only an accomplished composer, as can be understood by the diversity of his music, but a virtuoso violinist as well.

Mission to Bennu

The first U.S. mission to return samples from an asteroid to Earth, addressing multiple NASA Solar System Exploration objectives. Electronic music by Donemus composer Roland Kuit sent into space!  

The OSIRIS-REx Mission seeks answers to questions that are central to the human experience: Where did we come from? What is our destiny? OSIRIS-REx is going to Bennu, a carbon-rich asteroid that records the earliest history of our Solar System, and will be bringing a piece of it back to Earth. Bennu may contain the molecular precursors to the origin of life and the Earth’s oceans. Bennu is also one of the most potentially hazardous asteroids and has a relatively high probability of impacting the Earth late in the 22nd century. OSIRIS-REx will determine Bennu’s physical and chemical properties, which will be critical for future scientists to know when developing an impact mitigation mission.

The sound research music of Roland Kuit has been sent to space by NASA integrated in the OSIRIS-REx on September 8.

Listen to 101955 Bennu on Soundcloud

Roland Kuit at Donemus


Johannes Gijsbertus Bastiaans

Johannes Gijsbertus Bastiaans was born on Oktober 31, 1812 in Wilp (The Netherlands). He died on February 16, 1875 in Haarlem (The Netherlands).

Bastiaans was educated in organ playing from the age of ten in Deventer. After his father’s death, he studied to become a watchmaker and settled in Rotterdam. There he meet C.F. Hommert, who gave him lessons in harmony and counterpoint and who introduced him to the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. In 1836, Bastiaans moved to Dessau to continue his studies with Friedrich Schneider. He wanted to develop himself also as an organist and moved to Leipzig in 1837. Johannes Bastiaans is the first Dutchman to study music in Leipzig while Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy is there, who gave him composition instructions.

During his studies, Bastiaans played the double bass in the local orchestra Euterpe.
He takes Mendelssohn’s enthusiasm for Johann Sebastian Bach back with him to the Netherlands, thus initiating the Netherlands Bach movement, which is still very much alive today. He devotes himself to improving the level of singing in church and restoring the ancient chorale melodies to their original form.

In 1839 he became organist for the Mennonite congregation in Deventer. In 1840 he became organist at the Zuiderkerk in Amsterdam, and between 1858-1878 he was city organist at the Great or St. Bavo Church in Haarlem, where he regularly played the world famous Christian Müller organ (1738). From 1841 to 1858, Bastiaans played double bass in Amsterdam’s professional orchestra Caecilia. From 1842 to 1844 he also gave singing lessons at the Amsterdam Institute for the Blind.

Johannes Gijsbertus Bastiaans is the founder of an Amsterdam Bach Society. He started a private course in music theory and a year later he expanded this with an organ course. From 1853 to 1856 he was a lecturer at the Amsterdam Music School.

In 1867, Bastiaans published a harmony based on the ideas of, among others, Anton Friedrich Justus Thibaut and Moritz Hauptmann.

Bastiaans publishes several volumes of chorales and also composes new melodies, nine of which are included in the Dutch hymnal ‘Liedboek voor de Kerken’ (1973). He also wrote several melodies for the church book ‘Vervolgbundel op de Evangelische Gezangen’. Most of his other compositions – choral works, songs, chamber music, piano music and numerous organ works – never make it into print.

Henk Badings

Henk Badings was born on January 17, 1907 and died on June 28, 1987. Born in Bandung, Java, Dutch East Indies, as the son of Herman Louis Johan Badings, an officer in the Dutch East Indies army, Hendrik Herman Badings became an orphan at an early age.

Having returned to the Netherlands, his family tried to dissuade him from studying music, and he enrolled at the Delft Polytechnical Institute (later the Technical University). He worked as a mining engineer and palaeontologist at Delft until 1937, after which he dedicated his life entirely to music. Though largely self-taught, he did receive some advice from Willem Pijper, the doyen of Dutch composers at the time, but their musical views differed widely and after Pijper had attempted to discourage Badings from continuing as a composer, Badings broke off contact.

In addition to composing, Badings taught and lectured (in the Netherlands and abroad), was a jury member in competitions, and published several books. He held numerous teaching positions; e.g., at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart and the University of Utrecht.

Henk Badings is one of the great composers of the twentieth century, according to the musicologist Leo Samama. Samama describes him as “a versatile artist who apparently could effortlessly go from serious concert music to the style of the large American ‘wind bands’, from electronic music to educational collections, from lengthy and dramatic choral pieces to music for amateur orchestras. His musical style, lyrical and sombre, heroic and exuberant, dramatic and effective, is everywhere evident and marks each score as his. The music Badings wrote between 1930 and 1960 is of international allure. But also his later works are loved, especially in the United States, and bear witness to unbridled energy and spiritual power.” (Leo Samama, 1986)

Though he was an innovator, his style is characterized by a penchant for classical traits: melody, harmony and rhythm remain recognizable and guiding forces. In addition, he often used germ cell technique. Badings used unusual musical scales and harmonies (e.g., the octatonic scale).

In 1930, Badings had his initial big musical success when his first cello concerto (he eventually wrote a second) was performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Champions of his work included such eminent conductors as Eduard van Beinum and Willem Mengelberg. Accused after the Second World War of collaboration with the Nazi occupation forces, he was briefly banned from professional musical activity, but by 1947 he had been reinstated.

Badings oeuvre ranges from opera to electronic music and from film music to 14 symphonies, pieces for wind orchestra and for chamber ensembles. He received prestigious commissions, including those for the hundredth anniversary of the Vienna Philharmonic and the sixtieth of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. At the time of his death, he had produced over a thousand pieces.

Recently, interest in Badings’ music has grown; the German label CPO have committed themselves to recording Badings’ entire orchestral œuvre, and a Badings Festival was held in Rotterdam in October 2007.

Many of his compositions won awards in the Netherlands and abroad, including the Sweelinck Prize, awarded by the Dutch government, for his entire oeuvre in 1972.

Alphons Diepenbrock

Alphons Diepenbrock was born on 2 September 1862 in Amsterdam and grew up in a Catholic family of five children. In 1895 he married Elisabeth de Jong van Beek en Donk (1868-1939). They had two children: Joanna (1905-1966) and Thea (1907-1995). Diepenbrock died in Amsterdam on April 5, 1921.

Diepenbrock is a self-taught composer. As a child, Diepenbrock was attracted to music and he played the piano and the violin. His parents did not support his wish to go to the conservatory and Diepenbrock went to study classical languages instead. He composed in his spare time. In 1888 he took his doctoral degree on a thesis on Seneca.

In the same year he was appointed as a classics teacher at the gymnasium in Den Bosch. In his spare time, he was still composing, as well as writing essays on various subjects, such as music, painting, literature, philosophy, social history and politics for journals such as De Nieuwe Gids and De Kroniek.

Dissatisfied with the educational system of that time and the uninspiring environment of the town where he was living, Diepenbrock moved to Amsterdam in 1895. Here, he gave private lessons in classical languages and started to focus more on composition.

Owing in part to the unique combination of being a classicist and composer, he is one of the most interesting personalities in Dutch musical life around 1900. Without developing an actual teacher-student relationship, he serves as a mentor to many younger composers. He is an inspiration for Jan Ingenhoven, Matthijs Vermeulen, Hendrik Andriessen and Willem Pijper.

As a conductor, he performed many contemporary works, including Gustav Mahler’s Fourth Symphony (at the Concertgebouw) as well as works by Fauré and Debussy.

Diepenbrock’s great interest in literature finds expression in the texts and themes in his many vocal compositions. Some of his influences were Goethe, Novalis, Vondel, Brentano, Hölderlin, Heine, Nietzsche, Baudelaire and Verlaine. Some of Alphons Diepenbrock’s compositions took inspiration from and are based on poems by Heine Goethe and Dutch poets such as Van Eeden.

He created a musical idiom which, in a highly personal manner, combined 16th-century polyphony with Wagnerian chromaticism, to which in later years was added the impressionistic refinement that he encountered in Debussy’s music. Out of a feeling of insecurity, he was always polishing his music. On the other hand, the collaboration with directors and singers who were convinced of the qualities of his work, always fortified and helped him.

Diepenbrock, now a prolific composer, primarily of symphonic songs and choral works, wrote his most famous one, ‘Die Nacht‘ (1911) written for mezzo-soprano voice and orchestra.

War greatly affected Alphons Diepenbrock’s life. He took his patriotic role as a composer during the war very seriously, writing songs expressing opposition to Germany. He was active in the Ligue des Pays Neutres and wrote numerous anti-German articles and songs such as ‘Belges, debout’! and ‘Les poilus de l’Argonne’.

Henriëtte Bosmans

Henriëtte Hilda Bosmans was born in Amsterdam on December 6, 1895. Her father, the cellist Henri Bosmans, died when she was barely 8 months old. Henriëtte Bosmans died in the Prinsengracht Hospital in Amsterdam on July 2, 1952.

Henriëtte was educated by her mother, the pianist and teacher Sarah Benedicts. In 1913, Bosmans was awarded the piano diploma cum laude by the Society for the Advancement of Music in Utrecht. She then studied music theory with J.W. Kersbergen. In 1920, Henriëtte Bosmans took lessons in orchestration with Cornelis Dopper.

In November 1915, Henriëtte Bosmans maked her debut as a concert pianist with the Utrecht Municipal Orchestra, conducted by Wouter Hutschenruyter, performing Mozart’s ‘Piano Concerto’ KV 450 (1784). She performed in the major concert halls in the Netherlands with such internationally renowned conductors as Pierre Monteux, Willem Mengelberg, Eduard van Beinum, Sir Adrian Boult and George Szell.

In 1922, she began teaching the piano at the Toonkunst Music School in Amsterdam.

On March 12, 1952, she performs for the last time with orchestra, and on April 30 gives her last recital with Noémie Perugia. After the recital, she collapses and a month later she dies in the hospital.

Henriëtte Bosmans is considered one of the most important Dutch composers of the first half of the 20th century. As a pianist and composer, she was affiliated with various chamber music ensembles in Amsterdam, with among others the violinists Louis Zimmerman and Francis Koene and the cellist Marix Loevensohn.

Her first compositions, including her first orchestral piece ‘Poème‘ (1923), for cello and orchestra, are written in a German-Romantic style.

World War II puts her career on hold. Henriëtte Bosmans refuses to become a member of the Nazi’s Chamber of Culture and can perform only secretly. During the war, she develops a friendship with the reciter Charlotte Köhler. After a lengthy period in which Bosmans regularly performs but does not compose, because of the premature death of Francis Koene in 1935 and the war, she writes the ‘Doodenmarsch‘ [Death March, 1945], on text by Clara Eggink. Marius Flothuis regards this as one of her best works.

At the repeated request of Benjamin Britten, Henriëtte Bosmans sets Olive Schreiner’s poem ‘Dreams‘ to music and dedicates it to Peter Pears, Britten’s partner. That same year (1948), she also meets the singer Noémie Perugia. In the last years of her life, while she is tormented by illness, comes a new creative period. The songs she writes, and performs with her friend Perugia, are among the best of that period.

Bosmans entered her ‘Concertstuk‘ for flute and chamber orchestra (1929) in a Concertgebouw Orchestra competition and was awarded second prize. Also, she was made a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau in 1951.

The Henriëtte Bosmansprijs is created in 1994. It is an encouragement prize for new compositions which is awarded during the Netherlands Music Days by GeNeCo, consisting of €2500 (US$3500) and a performance. Since 2003, the prize is presented after a composition competition.

Round Table Meeting

The European-Egyptain Contemporary Music Society and Donemus are jointly organising a round table discussion including several topics such as the status of Middle-Eastern composers and publishing their music and where do they stand from the global publishing movement now….  

 The participants will also try to shed some light on the creation of a new musical repertoire and the facilitation of its crossing of borders. This comes with the more related topics that the Heritage and Modernity Forum took place last April in Cairo has brought to the table. Speakers, Zaid Jabri (Syrian-Polish composer), Sherif el Razzaz (EECMS), Davo Van Peursen (President of Donemus Publishers) and Lithuanian composer and conductor Vykintas Baltakas will try to debate the importance of Donemus Orient and the ability to launch a international music sheet label dedicated to professional Arab composers in need for high quality publishing reach out internationally as well as regionally. In addition to this, the persistent need to have a user-friendly accessible online archiving database poses to be of equal importance to be discussed in such occasion.

You’re welcome to join this discussion!

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Kees van Baaren

Kees Cornelius Leendert van Baaren was born on October 22, 1906 in Enschede. He died in Oegstgeest on September 2, 1970. Being the son of a music dealer, Van Baaren played the piano, cello and harmonica already in his early years.

His early studies (1924–29) were in Berlin with Rudolph Breithaupt (piano) and Friedrich Koch (composition) at the Stern conservatory. In these days, Kees van Baaren played jazz and accompanied the Kabarett der Unmöglichen [Cabaret of the Impossible] to support himself. After returning to the Netherlands in 1929, he studied with Willem Pijper.

His great inspiration during his studies was the jazz pianist Fats Waller. The pianist – and Van Baaren student – Misha Mengelberg said: “Van Baaren played Waller’s music pretty well himself, with much more interesting chords than Waller used, but without a trace of swing.”

In 1948 Van Baaren became director of the Conservatoire of the Amsterdam Muzieklyceum Society (later merged into the Conservatoire of Amsterdam). In 1953 he was appointed director of the Utrecht Conservatoire. In 1958 he became director of the Royal Conservatory of The Hague.

As a teacher and composer, he stimulated Dutch musical life and the generation of composers who were his students, among whom were Louis Andriessen, Theo Bruins, Reinbert de Leeuw, Misha Mengelberg, David Porcelijn, Peter Schat, Jan van Vlijmen, Jan Wisse and, surprisingly, Harry Bannink.

Van Baaren composed mainly orchestral and chamber music. One of his first compositions was ‘’ (1933); he destroyed all previous works. From 1934 onward, he often used the same germ cell technique of William Piper and dodecaphonic method of Arnold Schoenberg together. He himself says: “For me there is no difference between the germ and the series.” When he told Piper, he said: “You’re absolutely right, but I can not keep an eye on twelve at the same time.” Kees van Baaren was the first important Dutch composer to use twelve-tone technique.

While composing some works in an accessible, tonal style, in other pieces he developed toward a serial technique, which emerged fully with the ‘Septet’ for five winds, violin, and double bass (1952) (Ryker 2001). Based on this work, Van Baaren is praised as “the, technically speaking, most modern composer of the Netherlands”. That this music “at first hearing, sounded more to Piper than Schoenberg says a lot about the influence of his teacher” (Elmer Schönberger: Serial Expressionism in the Netherlands, pro and con). Later in the 50s, he repeats this dodecaphonic writing in a.o. ’Musical Self Portrait’ and ‘Sinfonia’ (1957) for orchestra.

With his work ‘Variazoni per Orchestra’ he establishes his name as serialistisch composer. “Due to this work and later compositions Van Baaren is seen as the father of the Dutch serialism.” (Leo Samama, 2006)

Musica per Orchestra’ (1966) is the last piece for large ensemble and ‘Musica per Campane‘ – the second version – is his last completed work; a violin concerto for soloist Theo Olof remains unfinished.

Baaren received the Sweelinck Prize for his entire oeuvre in 1969.