Matthijs Vermeulen

Matthijs Vermeulen was born in Helmond on February 8, 1888. He died July 26, 1967 in Laren.

After primary school Matthijs Vermeulen (born as Matheas Christianus Franciscus van der Meulen) initially wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was a blacksmith. During a serious illness his inclination towards the spiritual gained the upper hand. Inspired by a thoroughly Catholic environment, he decided to become a priest.

However, at the seminary, where he learned about the principles of counterpoint of the sixteenth-century polyphonic masters, his true calling – music – came to light. On his eighteenth he abandoned his initial ideas and left school.

In the spring of 1907 he moved to Amsterdam, the country’s musical capital. There he approached Daniël de Lange, the director of the conservatory, who recognized his talent and gave him free lessons for two years.

In 1909, Vermeulen began to write for the Catholic daily newspaper De Tijd, where he soon distinguished himself by a personal, resolute tone which stood out in stark contrast to the usually long-winded music journalism of the day. The quality of his reviews also struck Alphons Diepenbrock. He warmly recommended Vermeulen with the progressive weekly De Amsterdammer.

In the reviews for De Telegraaf, a daily newspaper he worked for since 1915 as head of the Art and Literature department, he also showed just how much in his view politics and culture were inseparable.

In 1947, he published a philosophical book “Het avontuur van de geest” (“The mind adventure”), which laid new foundations for rational man and his place in the world.

Vermeulen’s oeuvre includes seven Symphonies (1914, 1920, 1922, 1941, 1945, 1958 and 1965), chamber music and songs. Typical of Vermeulen’s music is his ruthless exclusion of anything approaching formulae or clichés. He avoided any hint of the rhetorical and strived for a direct emanation of the emotions and the spirit. Although his approach led to a thorough revision of the use of raw material of music, Vermeulen’s melody, harmony, rhythm and form have remained true to the indestructible elements that are the outcome of methodical analysis of twenty-five centuries of music history. During his life he stood virtually alone in this field of reconstructive thinking, and consequently acquired an isolated place in composition and in literature.

In 1917, Vermeulen composed the (relatively) famous symphonic song ‘La veille’ for mezzo-soprano and orchestra.

Vermeulen’s work was appreciated by Nadia Boulanger, an important figure in the Paris music scene. To thank her for her support, he dedicated his ‘String Trio’, composed in 1923, to her.

In 1994, Donemus released (in cooperation with the Matthijs Vermeulen Foundation) the complete works of Matthijs Vermeulen on 6 compact discs (CV 36/41).

In 1953, Vermeulen was awarded fifth prize at the Reine Elisabeth Competition in Brussels for his ‘Second Symphony (Prélude à la nouvelle journée)’, which premiered in 1956 during the Holland Festival.

The Matthijs Vermeulen Award, the most important Dutch composition prize, is named after him.

Herman Strategier

Herman Strategier, the son of the organist at St. Walburga Church, was born on August 10, 1912 in Arnhem.

Because of the battle of Arnhem in 1944, Herman Strategier and his family were forced to leave the city. They found shelter with his friend Jan Mul in Haarlem.

On October 26, 1988, Herman died in his sleep at home in Doorwerth. Strategiers death was not unexpected, for he had already written his ‘Requiem‘, which was sung during his funeral.

Herman Strategier learned a lot about the organ by helping his father regularly in the registration of this instrument. Also, he took piano lessons and music theory with J.J. Ruygrok.

From 1929 to 1932, Strategier studied organ with Hendrik Andriessen, piano with Phons Dusch and music theory with Johan Winnubst at the Rooms-Katholieke Kerkmuziekschool (current: Conservatory in Utrecht).

From 1934 to 1938, he studied morphology and instrumentation with Hendrik Andriessen.

After his graduation in 1932, Strategier became director-organist at the parish church of St. Anna in Nijmegen.

Three years later, he succeeded his father as organist at St. Walburga Church in Arnhem. Moreover, he succeeded Hendrik Andriessen as organist at the Cathedral of Utrecht in 1949.

From 1946 to 1965, Herman Strategier was teacher in general courses at the Dutch Institute for Catholic Church Music (NIKK). At the same time, he also worked as a teacher of music theory at the Utrecht Conservatory and the Rotterdam Conservatory. From 1949 to 1977, Strategier was appointed as a teacher of music theory at the University of Utrecht.

In addition, he conducted the Dutch Madrigaalkoor in Leiden from 1959 to 1973.

In 1977, Strategier quit his job as conductor and teacher.

Herman Strategier was a composer in the school of Hendrik Andriessen. He wrote a large and varied body of works in which sacred music plays a significant role. He found inspiration in the music of French post-Romantic composers such as Debussy, Fauré, Poulenc and Boulanger.

Strategier stood out for his use of the church modes and his style of harmonisation: “Strategier was a true master of handling the church modes, the Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, and so forth. Especially in Gregorian chant, he could harmonise these modes in a way that nobody could ever equal”. (Utrechts Nieuwsblad, October 1988)

His ‘Arnhemsche Psalm’ premiered on May 5, 1955 during the ten-year liberation celebration of Arnhem. Strategier directed the piece himself.

In 1968, Herman Strategier was honored by the Queen of the Netherlands as Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau, for his achievements in the field of composition, pedagogy and management.

Five years later, he was honored as Knight in the Order of St. Gregory the Great for his achievements as a composer of church music.

Highlighted composer: Andries van Rossem

Andries van Rossem is currently composer-in-residence at Musis Arnhem for the 2016-2017 season. Because of this, the Musis Stadstheater Arnhem commissioned Part III of Van Rossem’s Concerto for piano and chamber orchestra… 

Andries van Rossem is currently composer-in-residence at Musis Arnhem for the 2016-2017 season. Because of this, the Musis Stadstheater Arnhem commissioned Part III of Van Rossem’s Concerto for piano and chamber orchestra for Ralph van Raat and Het Gelders Orkest. Parts I and II were commissioned by Fonds Podiumkunsten for the ASKO|Schönberg Ensemble. HGO, directed by Karel Deseure, will perform this Concerto on three occasions: March 30, March 31, and April 2 in Nijmegen, Zutphen, and Arnhem, respectively.

Other notable concerts include Mattheüs Junior, De Plaats & Toonkust, at the Walburgiskerk in Arnhem from March 24-26, Mijn Lieve Burgerhart at the Huize Voormeer in Heereveen on April 23 and May 27, Strings! performed by Amsterdam Sinfonietta at Musis Arnhem on April 7, and the performance of Via Crucis at the Orgelpark, Amsterdam on March 31. In addition, Van Rossem’s piece, Oneliner, will be part of the mandatory repertoire for the International Schnitger Organ Competition 2017 during the Organ Festival Holland in Alkmaar in the month of June.


Current and future projects

Van Rossem is currently working on a theater project, HUIS, which will be premiered by the chamber choir PA’dam and directed by Marijke Beversluis on November 16 at Musis Arnhem. HUIS is a contemporary literary concert performed for narrator and choir, a capella, for a medium sized room.

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Donemus Performances Abroad

Donemus has several exciting concerts happening all over the world!… 

Donemus has several exciting concerts happening all over the world! Eurotopia, by Evrim Demirel, will be performed at the Freiberg Theater in Freiberg, Germany on March 4, 5, 10, and 11. This unique performance features an evening of theater by international artists from all over Europe that work together on a common theater performance.

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Hanna Kulenty’s Viola Concerto No. 1 will have its Polish premiere on March 25 at the Concert Hall Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR in Polish) in Katowice, Poland. The concert will be conducted by Alexander Humala and performed by the NOSPR Orchestra with Geneviève Strosser as soloist.

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Luc Brewaeys’ Along the Shores of Lorn, performed by the Symfonie Orkest Vlaanderen and directed by Karel Deseure, will be making a tour in Belgium this month. The Symfonie Orkest will perform Luc Brewaeys, paired with Beethoven and Copland, on March 18, 23, 25, and 26 in Cultuurcentrum Zwaneberg, Concertgebouw Brugge, CC Het Perron, and De Singel, respectively.

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Willem Jeths’ Requiem World Premiere at NTR ZaterdagMatinee

The Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, conducted by James Gaffigan, will perform Willem Jeths’ Requiem on March 11 at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. The piece was commissioned by and will be performed during the NTR ZaterdagMatinee series… 

The Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, conducted by James Gaffigan, will perform Willem Jeths’ Requiem on March 11 at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. The piece was commissioned by and will be performed during the NTR ZaterdagMatinee series.

The first part of the great Requiem from Jeths was already premiered in the 2015-2016 season. The completed work can now be heard in its entirety, touching and infused with deep emotion, like all music Jeths has been writing in recent years. He has been rather fascinated with grace and elegance, and his attention has increasingly moved into the final and insoluble mystery that engages the human being: what is on the other side of the dividing line between life and death? Fear and silence embrace each other in this grandiose requiem.

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Jan van Gilse

Jan van Gilse was born in Rotterdam on May 11, 1881 and died in Oegstgeest on September 11, 1944.

Van Gilse started to study the piano, composition and orchestral conducting at the Cologne Conservatory in 1897.

After the death of his teacher Franz Wüllner in 1902, he studied with Engelbert Humperdinck in Berlin, completing his studies there in 1905.

He moved to the Netherlands during World War I and was appointed conductor of the Utrecht City Orchestra.

In 1905, he became conductor and répétiteur of the Stadttheater Bremen opera and three years later of the North Netherlands Opera.

On Van Gilse’s initiative, the Genootschap van Nederlandse Componisten (GeNeCO, Society of Dutch Composers) was founded in 1911.

In Munich, Van Gilse completed the opera ‘Frau Helga von Stavern‘. The Bureau voor Muziekauteursrecht (BUMA, Music Copyright Bureau) was founded in 1913; Van Gilse was chairman from 1917 to 1942. In 1917, he also became the conductor of the Utrecht City Orchestra.

After a series of cutting journalistic attacks by Willem Pijper, Van Gilse resigned from the Utrecht City Orchestra, ending his career as a conductor in 1921. However, he resumed composing – throughout his period as a conductor, a time he referred to as his “years in exile”, he did not produce a single composition.

Van Gilse returned to Germany in 1926, composing there ‘Prologus Brevis’, for orchestra, among other compositions, and beginning his – never completed – memoires.

In 1933, Jan van Gilse became director of the Utrecht Conservatory. He started the Nederlandse Muziekbelangen [Dutch Musical Interests], a foundation to promote the performance of Dutch music from which the publisher Donemus emerged in 1947.

After many annoyances, Van Gilse resigned as director of the Utrecht Conservatory in 1937 and decided to devote himself to composition. He met Hendrik Lindt, and together they composed the opera ‘Thijl‘.

Jan van Gilse lived in Germany in the first years of the 20th century, and it was at this time that he wrote most of his compositions.
His music was initially influenced by the late German Romantic style, Richard Strauss and Max Reger in particular. But he gradually shifted focus. “With the last two movements of the ‘Fourth Symphony’, a tendency toward an individual style begins, which comes to fruition in the ‘Dansschetsen‘ (1926).” (Hans van Dijk). French influences (impressionistic, or Debussyan) are perceptible in the ‘Gardener Liederen‘ (1923). In the opera ‘Thijl‘ (1940) and the unfinished ‘Rotterdam’, he also flirted with folk music.

In 1901, Jan van Gilse was awarded the prize of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn for his ‘Symphony in F’.

He received the German Michael Beer Preis in 1909 for his ‘Symphony No. 3, Erhebung’, for soprano and orchestra, an award that makes it possible for him to work in Rome for a year.

Johannes Bernardus van Bree

Johannes Bernardus van Bree was the dominant figure in Amsterdam musical life, particularly as a conductor, from 1830 to 1855. He was born in Amsterdam on January 29, 1801 and died on February 14, 1854.

His father, Frans van Bree, a music teacher, gave him his first violin lessons.

In 1828, he completed his musical education taking music theory lessons from Johan George Bertelman – as a composer, however, he was self-taught.

The family moved to Leeuwarden in 1812. Johannes van Bree began his career accompanying dance lessons and teaching music to the children of the baron of Minnertsga. He also performed several times as a violin soloist in Leeuwarden.

After returning to Amsterdam in 1820, Van Bree played for a brief time in the orchestra of the Théâtre Français. His affiliation with the orchestra of the Felix Meritis society, the most prominent orchestra in the capital city, lasted longer. In 1821, he made his debut as a soloist with this orchestra.

After being promoted to concertmaster of the Felix Meritis orchestra, he was soon appointed conductor. In addition, he conducted the choir of the Moses and Aaron Church (Zelus Pro Domo Dei) and, from 1836, the choir of the Society for the Advancement of Music.

In 1840, Van Bree accepted a post as musical leader of the Hollandsche Schouwburg. However, he resigned a year later because its opera company was dissolved. That year, he became the leader of the orchestra, which he co-founded, of the Caecilia Society, a philanthropic organisation. Beethoven’s music was performed most often, but also Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn and Carl Maria von Weber.

Van Bree continued to lead the Felix Meritis, Caecilia and Society for the Advancement of Music ensembles until shortly before his death. From 1853 to 1856, he was also the director of the society’s music school, while teaching music theory, the violin, singing and piano at the school. However, health problems in his last years made it difficult for him to keep up with all these tasks.

During his short life, he composed a respectable body of works. His compositions reflect the many sides of his public functions: Masses and other sacred music, cantatas and declamatorios, an opera, an opéra-comique and an operetta, songs, works for men’s choir, two symphonies, overtures, concertos, three string quartets, numerous piano pieces, and other shorter works.

His best works (such as the famous ‘Allegro for four string quartets‘) are, in the words of a contemporary, characterized “by simplicity and naturalness … by polish, clarity and freshness, a certain popularity, without triviality”. (F.C. Kist, 1857)

He had great success as an opera composer with ‘Sapho’ (1834) and ‘Le bandit‘ (1835). In 1838, he formed a string quartet, with which he introduced the music of Ludwig van Beethoven and Louis Spohr, among others, to Amsterdam audiences.

Aside from the often performed ‘Allegro for four string quartets‘ in D minor (1845), which he composed for the Caecilia Society, his music has largely been forgotten.

Bernard van Dieren

Bernard Hélène Joseph van Dieren (27 December 1887 – 24 April 1936) was a Dutch composer, critic, author, and writer on music, much of whose working life was spent in England.

Van Dieren was born and educated in Rotterdam. In company with a fellow musician from Rotterdam, Frida Kindler (1879-1964) he moved to London in 1909 and they married on New Year’s Day 1910. Frida was a superb pianist, a pupil of Busoni; and the Italian master in turn was to have a profound influence on the young Bernard.

Details of his education are unknown but it seems that his early training was as a scientist, as a research assistant in a laboratory. Gifted in science, extremely intelligent and with a phenomenal memory, he was also well-versed in literature as well as an able violinist and amateur artist.

During the First World War he was for a short time involved in secret service in the Netherlands, as a cypher expert in the Intelligence Department.

In 1925, Van Dieren worked for the Philips electrical company but recurring illness forced him to resign the following year.

He also wrote a book on “Epstein” (1920) and published a collection of controversial essays entitled “Down Among the Dead Men” (1935).

Van Dieren was influenced by the early 20th century atonal composers. His writing is characterised by extremely complex contrapuntal elements. Bernard’s compositions include a wide variety of works which have yet to be rediscovered.

In 1912, he began to suffer from a progressive and incurable infection of the kidneys, involving recurrent attacks of renal stone, so painful as to require morphia for their relief. Coincidentally, his musical style became much less radical, and more tonally based, though the writing was still largely polyphonic.

Bernard’s younger English friends, including Warlock, Cecil Gray, the Sitwells and Epstein helped to promote his music. In the 1920’s and 1930’s many of the smaller pieces were published and some of the larger works were performed in the composer’s last years. In 1927, his fourth string quartet was performed at the Frankfurt Festival. In 1930, he completed his opera ‘The Tailor’ (begun in 1916 at Heseltine and Gray’s request).

Just before Bernard’s death, two of his more important works were broadcast by the BBC: ‘Diaphony’ in 1934 and the ‘Chinese Symphony‘ in 1935.

With the onset of World War II and the early deaths of a number of his active disciples (Gray and Lambert in 1951: baritone John Goss in 1953) his music slipped out of the performing repertoire. By the 1960’s his work had sunk into that oblivion from which it is only now emerging.

Recently, in October 2016, Lyrita Recorded Edition has recorded Bernard’s ‘Chinese Symphony‘ for release on CD, along with several other shorter works by the composer.

Calliope Tsoupaki – Fortress Europe premiere

Fortress Europe is a new opera by the Greece-Dutch composer Calliope Tsoupaki about one of the most important issues of our time: the refugee crisis. It will be premiered during the Opera Forward Festival on March 20, 21 and 22, in Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam… 

Fortress Europe is a new opera by the Greece-Dutch composer Calliope Tsoupaki about one of the most important issues of our time: the refugee crisis. It is the first edition of Sign of the Times, a series of newly composed operas that relate to current affairs, a co-production by Opera Trionfo with the Dutch National Opera and Asko|Schönberg Ensemble.

Fortress Europe will be premiered during the Opera Forward Festival on March 20, 21 and 22, in Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam.

The opera tells the story of Lady Europe and her son, the politician. Born in North Africa, Europe faced the world filled with courage and ideals. Now she lives in isolation in her apartment in Brussels. Meanwhile, her son fulfills the task of guarding the gate to Europe. A drama unfolds that is filled with political interests, personal desires and the fear and hate of populists.

Tickets Fortress Europe

In her compositions, Calliope Tsoupaki uses elements from old and contemporary music, and music from Greece and the Middle East, combining them into her own unique musical idiom. Following her training at the Hellinicon Conservatory, in Athens, she continued her studies in the Netherlands with Louis Andriessen. She stayed in the Netherlands and has developed into one of the country’s leading composers.

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Gouden Viooltje Prize for Jacob ter Veldhuis

On March 9, Ter Veldhuis will receive the Gouden Viooltje Prize, which is given to musicians with exceptional talent from North Holland. His Adagio for orchestra will have its world premiere on the same day… 

On March 9, Jacob ter Veldhuis will receive the Gouden Viooltje Prize, which is given to musicians with exceptional talent from North Holland.

The Noord Nederlands Orkest, conducted by Antony Hermus, combines French impressionist masters Roussel, Poulenc, and Debussy, with works by the Groningen-native JacobTV (aka Jacob ter Veldhuis) on March 9 at the Oosterport in Groningen and on March 10 at Tivoli Vredenberg in Utrecht.

NNO has asked Ter Veldhuis to compose an orchestral work on the occasion of his 65th birthday, thus giving life to his Adagio for orchestra. This piece will have its world premiere in Groningen, along with a performance of his La Lucerna del Mondo. Both performances will be live on Dutch Public Radio 4.

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