World premiere Marijn Simons ‘AVROTROS Vrijdagconcert’

On May 18th the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest and Groot Omroepkoor will bring the world premiere of Marijn Simons (1982) – Etoile de la Mer. The work will be broadcasted in The Netherlands, Spain, at the Saarländischer Rundfunk, and in Romania, Poland and Bulgaria…   

It is already Marijn Simons’s 3rd commission for this AVROTROS Vrijdagconcer series. He wrote already a Trombone concerto ‘Visiting the Angels’ (2009) and his Fourth Symphony (2012). Simons likes to work with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. ‘They are without doubt one of the best orchestras in the Netherlands.

Read the full interview with Thea Derks
More about the concert
More about Marijn Simons

Cooperation: Asko|Schönberg, Donemus and Newzik

Ensemble Asko|Schönberg, music publisher Donemus and French software company Newzik are initiating a joint innovative pilot that forms the basis for further collaboration between composer, publisher and ensemble and orchestras, making use of the latest technological developments…   

Newzik has developed software that enables collaborative sheet music reading on iPads. During the concert (De)construction of Asko|Schönberg on 17 May 2018 in Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, this software on iPad will be used for the first time in the Netherlands.

The digital solution
Sheet music on tablets is not new. However, the company Newzik is developing a technology that, in the near future, guarantees publishing rights and copyright. This enables safe distribution, copying, editing and archiving of scores and the copyright is protected.

How does it work and what are the benefits?
The music of Yannis Kyriakides – ‘Der Komponist’, supplied by Donemus is put into the new software by Newzik and sent to the ensemble. During the rehearsals, all remarks that are made by the conductor and musicians are immediately recorded in all files (parts) and saved for the future. This not only makes rehearsing more efficient, it is also very important that knowledge about play methods and techniques is recorded and archived. This is of great importance for Asko|Schönberg, because the ensemble often collaborates with the composer. Not only the remarks but also all personal cues, a wealth of added information, are immortalized.

This new development paves the way for a definite switch from the old paper sheet music to the digital age. The initiative is also embraced abroad. In its short existence, Newzik has been able to bind Die Wiener Staatsoper and various orchestras in France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

More info about the concert
More info about NewZik
More info about Yannis Kyriakides
Read about the ‘Donemus Case Study’ on NewZik


Granddaughter Biljana Urban presents Jan Urban

On May 15th Biljana Urban will perform some works of her grandfather Jan Urban (1875–1952). This will be organized by in Vienna in their series “Echo des Unerhörten” Donemus will publish some of his works…   

Biljana Urban, pianist in The Netherlands, will perform with Orsolya Korcsolán (violin). Ethel Merhaut (soprano) and Sándor Károlyi (piano). Irene Suchy will moderate a discussion with Biljana and Dr. Michael Haas.

The Czech born composer and conductor Jan Urban, after graduating from the Prague Conservatory in 1897, accepted an invitation by the Serbian Government and settled in the Kingdom of Serbia, in March 1899. He was part of around 250 Czech musicians, who in the last decades of the 19th century emigrated to the Southern Slav countries in order to improve local musical culture. Serbia was particularly interesting to them as the free country in Europe not dominated by the Ottoman or Habsburg empires…. (Read more about Treasured composer Jan Urban)

In June there will be an exhibition on Jan Urban in Vienna and on May 24th Biljana Urban will talk about this exhibition in Vienna and the works of her grandfather in Opium live.

On October 9th Biljana will give a recital in Vienna at the University of Music and Performing Arts. Stay tuned for more details…

Donemus will publish some of his works in cooperation with Biljana Urban. First Album available soon.

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Listen to works by Jan Urban:

Jan Urban

The Czech born composer and conductor Jan Urban, after graduating from the Prague Conservatory in 1897, accepted an invitation by the Serbian Government and settled in the Kingdom of Serbia, in March 1899. He was part of around 250 Czech musicians, who in the last decades of the 19th century emigrated to the Southern Slav countries in order to improve local musical culture. Serbia was particularly interesting to them as the free country in Europe not dominated by the Ottoman or Habsburg empires.

Bohemia has been described as the “Music Conservatoire of Europe.” Jan Urban was part of that illustrious lineage of Czech’s – from the time of Jan Zelenka in the 17th to that of Bohuslav Martinu in the 20th century – who departed from their homeland to become musical crusaders bearing the Lyre in place of the Cross. Countless musicians before him, like Stamiz, Benda, Dussik, Vořišek, Reicha and many others were part of what the French musicologist Guy Erismann calls ”la grande émigration.” They took up important positions at the great European courts and theatres, in mostly German-speaking countries. Some went further afield, like the great Antonin Reicha, who journeyed on to Paris and taught composers such as Liszt and Cesar Franck.

After settling in Serbia, Ján Urban married Milka, a woman of remarkable beauty from the renowned Perić family of Valjevo and changed his first name to Jovan, after conversion to the Eastern Orthodox church. Milka bore Jan-Jovan six children.

For the rest of his life he fervently strove to improve the musical education and culture of what was first the Kingdom of Serbia, later became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after the liberation in 1945, non aligned SFR Yugoslavia. There he was pivotal in establishing the first national orchestras, music academies and cultural societies, all the while conducting and composing music of all genres.

The great contribution of Urban to Serbian classical music is his contribution to orchestral music. His orchestral output – around 20 overtures, innumerable dances and suites of remarkable orchestration – was the first of its kind to be written for full symphony orchestra. His highly imaginative orchestration of the folkloristic ”Poskocica”, as well as his ”Serbian Dances“, contribute to Urban being termed “the Serbian Dvořak.” From the early 1920s up until the 1990s, most of these works have been performed and recorded by the Belgrade Radio Symphony Orchestra. In Skopje, Macedonia, he founded the first orchestra and became its Opera’s first conductor.

Urban served as Kapellmeister in the Serbian Army during the First World War. Several of his works commemorate this period: “In Memory of Corfu“, “Crossing Albania“, ”La Serbie de l’Orient” (In the East), “The Peonies of Kosovo“, ”Sounds of Medvednik mountain.”

”La Serbie de l’Orient” was performed in Bizerta, Tunisia during the war. In Paris and other French cities this remarkable work was performed under the name of superior officer, Captain Dragutin Pokorny, so depriving Urban of his well deserved accolade.

The celebrated composition ”March on Drina”, written in Valjevo in 1915 and signed by Stanislav Binički, is also believed by his family and the citizens of Valjevo to be Urban’s work. It was later conducted by Herbert von Karajan in the Vienna Philharmonic’s famous New Year’s Concert of 1987.

Witnessing the unprecedented magnitude of the horrors of war, Ján Urban wrote poignant letters to his wife from the front. 

Despite his deep rejection of such violence, he was obliged to keep writing heroic marches based on national tunes, in order to strengthen and boost the troops’ moral. After The Great War Urban would never again write another ”heroic march”. Quite likely he was aware of the romantic cult of heroism these propagated and knew of Karl Kraus’ satirical essay ”Das Technoromantische Abenteuer” (Technoromantic Adventure).

In the first decade of the 20th century Serbia had only one large orchestra, the ”King’s Guard”. Urban, together with another Czech born musician, the above mentioned Dragutin Pokorny, established 20 further wind orchestras post WWI. He also established and ran the first Music Military Academy in Vršac, in 1927.

From 1920 to 1941 we encounter Jan Urban as an opera composer and conductor at the National Theatre of Osijek (in today’s Croatia). At that time the city of Osijek, or ”little Prague”, boasted an astonishing cultural life, deeply marked by the Vienna Secession in architecture, literature and music. Around the year 1924 Urban founded the ”Osijek Philharmonic Orchestra”, together with his close friend the conductor Lav Mirsky. The members of that orchestra were mostly Czech musicians drawn from Urban’s promenade orchestra.

Urban’s children opera Enchanted princess (1926), created in collaboration with the city’s leading writer, reflected the aesthetic of the ‘Art Nouveau’. For his operetta Sin of Iguman he chose a libretto characteristic of the hilarity of Hašek’s humor. Leaving the heroic music narrative behind, Urban’s artistic expression of that period leaned toward modernity. This was mostly in the sense of Victor Žmegač’s finely stated ”Modernism is the pluralism of styles”, since Urban’s harmonic language remained fairly conventional.

The declaration of the fascist-run Independent State of Croatia found Urban fleeing the country and returning to Serbia at the onset of the Second World War. His best friend, the Jewish conductor Lav Mirsky, together with whom he paved the way for modern Opera and symphonic musical life in Osijek, was deported.

Among Jan Urban’s compositions dating from the Second World War we find 40 studies for violin solo and a fantasy for violin and piano, the Wanderer (Putnik) after a poem by Petar Preradović: ”Merciful beloved God, lost am I in the roadless land….

After the war compositions continued to flow, including a number of works celebrating the Partisan Resistance to the Nazis, such as Sutjeska and The Death of the Hero.

Jan Urban passed away on February 9th, 1952 in Valjevo, in what was then still Yugoslavia. He was celebrated and widely performed there after his death, in appreciation for his tireless contribution to having elevated the country to the high standard in music, arts and education.

During his life, the composer covered vast musical ground mastering opera, orchestral works, chamber music and piano miniatures. Among Ján Urban’s most significant works are two operas, Mother and Djul Beaza, two operettas Sin of Iguman and Terpsichoretwo children’s operettas and more than 90 piano pieces, the latter published between 1905 and 1910 in Belgrade. His oeuvre further included Nine Serbian Dances and Thirteen Saltarelli (Poskočica) for large orchestra, five suits, countless overtures, potpourris, marches, waltzes, works for solo violin and other chamber music. A recently discovered musical play Šokica suggests his opera output to have been even larger. Although about two-thirds of his works were either lost or destroyed, as the consequence of five wars, his remaining output left to posterity is considerable.

The richness of the folkloristic rhythms and tunes of his adopted South Slav (Yugoslavian) countries suffuse Urban’s music. Behind these elements, his Bohemian homeland always shines through with particular clarity. Yet Urban is not an epigone of his Czech predecessors. The poetical images of his piano works, his operettas and Strauss-like orchestral waltzes reveal more strongly the hallmarks of ‘Art Nouveau’Furthermore, elements of so-called oriental modes are woven into visceral ingredients of Jan Urban’s harmonic language. The alchemy of these styles marks a consummate multinational composer whose music is the apotheosis of dance where the Orient and Occident dance embraced.

(Biljana Urban)

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Conductus -Constructio

(programma-toelichting Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest:)

Al vóór hij in 2014 tot Componist des Vaderlands werd benoemd, een hoedanigheid waarin je composities schrijft ‘die aansluiten bij nationale gebeurtenissen, herdenkingen en andere speciale gelegenheden’, leek Willem Jeths misschien te voorvoelen dat dit er aan zat te komen: zijn werk Conductus over het bombardement van Rotterdam in 1940 was toen al vrijwel af. Zoals bij Jeths te verwachten, is Conductus een werk over de dood, een thema waar hij zich in recenter werk meer mee bezig hield. Maar verwacht hier geen dramatische bombardementen of ander ostentatief geweld: ‘Het gaat mij niet zozeer om de romantische fascinatie voor de duistere kant van de dood,’ vertelde hij in een gesprek met Siebe Riedstra, ‘maar meer over het moment van overgaan naar iets anders. Ik ben ervan overtuigd dat ons leven niet zal stoppen als wij sterven en ik heb een ‘‘Ahnung’’ dat er een ‘‘Jenseits’’ is.’

Conductus is een virtuele droom waarin de luisteraar wordt geconfronteerd met een aantal muzikale herinneringen. Met de titel verwijst Jeths naar het genre van een meerstemmig middeleeuws lied zoals de Parijzenaar Perotinus ze schreef, specifieker naar het lied Procurans Odium (Het koesteren van haat). Dan zijn er referenties naar het Rotterdamse straatliedje Ketelbinkie, beter bekend als Toen wij van Rotterdam vertrokken. In het begin spelen fagotten flarden van Procurans Odium, waartegen celli het refrein van Ketelbinkie intoneren. Dan, in droomtoestand, een langzaam deel, met zwevende houtblazerscantilenen ontleend aan Procurans Odium. Een roestig carillon – ‘toen wij van Rotterdam vertrokken’ – markeert de epiloog. De dertien klokslagen herinneren aan het tijdstip van het bombardement, waarop een krachtige implosie volgt. Eind 2016 ontving Jeths van het Rotterdams Philharmonisch de opdracht voor een ‘vervolg’ op deze compositie, in première te gaan tijdens de Opbouwdag 2018. Waar Conductus tragisch van toon is, is het nieuwe werk – onder de titel Constructio – optimistisch, positief, vrolijk. Niet de destructie van Rotterdam maar juist de wederopbouw van na de oorlog, klinkt in dit deel door, en zo raken het bombardement en de opbouw van de stad Rotterdam in dit tweeluik onlosmakelijk met elkaar verbonden als ‘Untergang und Aufstieg’. De twee delen lopen in elkaar over: waar Conductus eindigt (het bombardement) volgt een ‘in memoriam’ voor de slachtoffers. Ook Rotterdams Stedelied Aan Rotterdam van Gerard Bartus van Krieken staat centraal gedurende het verloop van Constructio.


World premiere Klas Torstensson – L’autunno di Christina

Operadagen Rotterdam and de Doelen present the world premiere of ‘L’autunno di Christina’, commissioned by de Doelen…   

Sinfonietta Riga, together with violinist Joseph Puglia and soprano Charlotte Riedijk, performs the first three parts of the versatile Christina Cycle by Klas Torstensson. This consists of three works on texts by and about the Swedish queen Christina (1626-1689): a particularly intriguing, heroic woman who immersed herself in alchemy and astronomy, revolted against traditional femininity, did not want to marry and renounced herself the throne. She spent her last years in Rome as a patron of theater, sculpture and music.

composition: Klas Torstensson
conductor: Normunds Sne
soprano: Charlotte Riedijk
performance: Sinfonietta Riga

More info about the concert in Rotterdam
More info about the concert in Amsterdam