Alexander Voormolen

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Alexander Voormolen was born in Rotterdam on March 3, 1895. He died on November 12, 1980 in Leidschendam.

He went to the Conservatory in Utrecht at the age of 14, where he studied piano with Willem en Marinum Petri and composition with Johan Wagenaar, together with Willem Pijper and Jakob van Domselaer.

On advice from Rhene-Bâton, Voormolen went to Paris in the fall of 1916, where he took lessons from Albert Roussel. At the same time, Maurice Ravel was his musical mentor for a while. In 1919, Alexander Voormolen returned to the Netherlands where he went to live in Veere.

To provide for his livelihood, he worked as a music critic for the New Rotterdam Courant from 1921.

In 1938, Alexander Voormolen was appointed as a librarian at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.

In 1921, Alexanders composition ‘Symphonietta’ was performed by the Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Willem Mengelberg. Evert Cornelis conducted the premiere of the symphonic poem ‘Dream House’. After this performance, Voormolen withdrew this composition. He did the same with his string quartet, his ‘Symphonietta’ and a couple of other works. He removed almost half of his compositions for orchestra.

The two ‘Baron Hop suites‘ (1924 and 1931) had been intended for a non-realized comic opera about the inventor of the Haagse Hopje.

From 1932, there appeared more ponderous, neoclassical and neo-romantic elements in his work, for example in the ‘Concerto for two oboes and orchestra’ (1933) and the ‘Sinfonia’ (1939).

During the German occupation, Alexander Voormolen was among the most frequently performed Dutch composers. He got more choice assignments than most of his colleagues. In 1944, he received a Government subsidy which enabled him to denounce his job as a librarian at the (then so-called) National Conservatory and fully concentrate on composing. The “Court of honor for the music”, which was set up after the liberation, sentenced Alexander Voormolen to three years of exclusion from the music scene.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences (OCW) granted him money to devote himself to composing. The influence of Max Reger and Anton Bruckner can be heard in ‘Sinfonia Concertante’ (1951) and ‘Ciacona e fuga’ (1958).

The theme of the slow part from Mills oboe concerto (1938) was used as the theme song of a telefilm, which was based on Louis Couperus’ novel cycle “The book of the little souls”.

For his ‘Air Willem V’, Alexander Voormolen was awarded the Music Prize by the city of The Hague in 1932. As well as a.o. Henk Badings and Willem Pijper, he also received a State Prize for Music in 1941. Besides, Alexander was awarded the Visser-Neerlandia Prize for his ‘Three songs on British verse’ (1948) and Johan Wagenaar Prize for his entire oeuvre.

Last but not least, he received the “Penning van de Rotte” from the municipality of Rotterdam in 1976 and was appointed honorary member of the Hague Art Circle in 1978.