Author Topic: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)  (Read 7178 times)

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Offline Guido

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Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« on: January 15, 2008, 02:39:48 PM »
As far as I can make out - a fascinating composer - has anyone heard his works? I only just found out about him from this website that Bodges linked to.

http://www.artsjournal.com/postclassic/

The blog entry from the 3rd of January gives more info, and a download of the third Symphony.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthijs_Vermeulen

These two collections seem to include everything he composed but both have been long out of print as far as I can see... Does anywhere else stock them?

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Matthijs-Vermeulen-Orchestral-Passacaille/dp/B0000049TX/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1200436272&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Matthijs-Vermeulen-Charles-van-Tassel/dp/B0000049TY
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2008, 02:51:30 PM »
I have a few of his pieces on disc, but haven't listened to them enough to really comment.  He has two works on this Concertgebouw Anthology (1950-1960) , his Symphony No. 2 ("Prélude à la nouvelle journée") and De vliegende Hollander: Passacaille et Cortège.

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Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2008, 02:53:50 PM »
Hello, Guido!

Good topic! I am Dutch and I have all of Vermeulen's (seven) symphonies, the first 5 of which I know quite well. After having borrowed them from the library a few times, I bought them (quite recently) from an online shop here in The Netherlands. I don't have his chamber music yet, but that's something I hope to redress quite soon.

As you say - a fascinating composer. His First symphony, to me, is one of the Best Firsts ever, a glowing, glorious work by a visionary young man. But the Second surpasses it easily - it's driven, barbaric, eruptive. Vermeulen is a very un-Dutch composer: there is no reserve, no sobriety, the music is lava, and it hits you.

Vermeulen is also a great writer about music. His enthusiasm is infectious. It's a pity none of his articles and essays have been translated into English. The way he characterizes Beethoven, for instance, is so perceptive and affectionate, you immediately want to hear his music.

Yes, I really have much time for Vermeulen.

Johan

PS Just saw this: "He has two works on this Concertgebouw Anthology (1950-1960) , his Symphony No. 2 ("Prélude à la nouvelle journée") and De vliegende Hollander: Passacaille et Cortège."

The 'Vliegende Hollander' music is incidental music for a play by a leading Dutch poet. It's a very exciting and grand piece. Do listen to it, and see what you make of it, Bruce.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2008, 02:57:48 PM by Jezetha »
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2008, 03:00:40 PM »
Vermeulen is a very un-Dutch composer: there is no reserve, no sobriety, the music is lava, and it hits you.

Well, this description certainly got my attention!  I'll see if I can listen to either or both of these in the next day or so and post some impressions. 

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Offline Guido

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2008, 03:06:18 PM »
Please do! As it says in the site I linked to - The second Symphony is occasionally referred to as the Dutch Rite of Spring!
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pjme

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2008, 01:32:40 PM »
Ever since I bought teh Donemus LP's ( and more recently the Cd's - from a shop in Utrecht), Vermeulen has made a deep impression on me. I've tried to sing his originality here several times before.

I've read a good part of Ton Braas' massive ( ca 850 pages) biography ( De bezige bij 1997 - Amsterdam), definitely a labour of love and significance.

I find symphonies 2-3-4 the most interesting : less than 30 mins in duration, densely scored for large orchestras ( with instruments of extreme tessitura - from very high trumpets to deep bassoons and dark horns).
Nr 2 "Prélude à la nouvelle journée" (Prelude to the new day - ca 1918-1920) is now massively confident and striving, then mysteriously lyrical and incantatory like a ritual. Braas claims that Vermeulen did not know the Sacre, but the "Prélude" has the same raw energy! He draws also paralels with Varèse and Ives ( symph. nr 47).

Nr 3 "Thrène et paean" ( Dirge and song of triumph) dates from 1922 . Koussevitsky is very enthusiastic and promises to perform the work with the Boston SO. Unfortunately, and inspite of Nadia Boulanger's help, Koussevitsky does not find the money for a performance ("...the American public isn't yet ready for such an advanced work...") and the symphony stays unperformed.
Symphony nr 3 has a slow introduction and is followed by three movements ( slow-fast-slow) without break. The work  is darker and more dramatic in tone than nr 2 . Vermeulen knows extremely well to build tension . Long arches of giant melodies raise and fall, interweave in complex forms. After a towering climax, the "Threnos" returns and the music disappears silently.

Nr 4 " Les victoires" (The victories - 1940-1942) is closely connected with the war years. Vermeulen lived in great poverty - yet in spite of many hardships, he managed to write a great,almost optimistic work . In a letter to his son Josquin, he writes" It starts( sounds as) with a huge group of bagpipes ,who suddenly begin to sing with a thousand voices from days bygone and eternal.That forms some kind of introduction, lasting about 2 minutes.Then the action begins. And it moves upwarts...I work in a joyous and happy mood - strangely enough".
This symphony is slightly more "popular" in tone ( has more tonal relations) and the quality of the many melodies is catchy and optimistic. Three uninterupted movements build inexorably to a beautiful climax .
Some years ago I witnessed a performance of "Les victoires" by Valery Gergiev in Rotterdam . The Rotterdam PO has something of a tradition now in performing Vermeulens difficult music - Gergiev has the measure of the refined colours and symphonic grandeur....

Symphony nr 5 " Les lendemains chantants (..difficult to translate  - possibly something like "the singing daybreaks") 3 movements of roughly 15 mins) is for me the most complex and difficult symphony.

Symphony nr 6 ( Les minutes heureuses) and nr 7 ( Dithyrambes pour les temps à venir) are definitely works of great mastery, but may lack the sheer ecxitement and shock of the earlier works.

"The Flying Dutchman "is a wonderful score - less complex than the symphonies ,but it sings majestically !

I'm very fond of the orchestral song " La veille" - a kind of obsessive , repetitive prayer . The performance by a very young Jard Van Nes is very convincing and moving.

Peter

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2008, 02:09:49 PM »
I can't improve on your excellent posting, Peter. (So, you are Dutch, too?) I agree almost totally with your assessment of the symphonies.

I heard the Fifth live in the Concertgebouw during the Holland Festival in 1997 (IIRC), and it made a deep impression: it felt as one big arc, very satisfying.

The Third always seems a more refined and cooled-down Second to me. The opening struck me even in my teens (in the 1970s) - a music reviewer friend of a friend of mine had a box with LPs of Dutch music, and it contained Vermeulen's Third. The opening is very very arresting.

The Fourth I've only listened to once, so I reserve judgement until I know it better.

And the 'Vliegende Hollander' Passacaille is one of the best things he ever did (more impressive under Van Beinum than in the later recording with Otto Ketting IMO).

O, I almost forgot the First - one of my all-time favourite symphonies. The greatest symphonic miracle in Dutch music (after Vermeulen's Second...) When I heard it for the first time I thought 'This is sheer genius breaking through'. The march is one of the real 'Dutch' pieces of music I know, in spite of its Mahlerian influence. It's as Dutch as Smetana is Czech - I see Dutch paintings before my mind's eye when I hear it. Don't ask me why. And the Coda of the First is as poetic as any 'dying fall' by Delius.

Johan
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

pjme

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2008, 02:34:05 PM »
Hi Johan, no I'm Belgian ( with friends & family in the Netherlands).

I discovered Vermeulen through LP's ,rented from the library.

Peter

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2008, 02:36:18 PM »
Thanks for re-awakening my interest in Vermeulen!

I bought the Donemus boxed set of the 7 symphonies coupled with the extracts from "The Flying Dutchman" and "La veille" some time ago and made the mistake of listening to the CDs one after the other. That caused-if I recall-a certain degree of sensory overload! Rather like listening to too much Scriabin or Villa-Lobos. I think that I should re-investigate but selectively this time.

Vermeulen is certainly a most interesting composer although, on the evidence so far from the new CPO series, I do find Henk Badings more structured in his approach to symphonic composition.

Offline Guido

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2008, 04:47:44 PM »
http://www.vpro.nl/programma/vrijegeluiden/afleveringen/37959168/media/39232775/

His fantastic first cello sonata her. Does anyone know how to download the file?
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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2008, 05:15:09 PM »
you guys are funny
"great", 'superb", 'awesome".
I heard no such thing in the music.

Offline Christo

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2008, 12:15:46 PM »
you guys are funny
"great", 'superb", 'awesome".
I heard no such thing in the music.

... but I do! And I do agree wholeheartedly with all of Peter's and also Johan's opinions, posted here before.

As far as I can see, nodoby mentions the (nowadays deleted and very hard to find) Chandos CD with Rozhdestvensky conducting the Residentie Orkest (The Hague) in Vermeulen II, VI and VIII. When I finally obtained my copy of it, last year, it showed a disappointment, however much I admire the conductor as a person.

He doesn't come to gripps with the magnificent (yes, Paulb!) Second. My own preferred version (there are at least four recordings available) being the one by Lucas Vis conducting the same orchestra on a special Donemus CD (Composers Voice KN1) with an analysis by Ton Braas that opened my ears and eyes to Vermeulen, back in the 1990s.
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2008, 01:08:47 PM »
... but I do! And I do agree wholeheartedly with all of Peter's and also Johan's opinions, posted here before.

As far as I can see, nodoby mentions the (nowadays deleted and very hard to find) Chandos CD with Rozhdestvensky conducting the Residentie Orkest (The Hague) in Vermeulen II, VI and VIII. When I finally obtained my copy of it, last year, it showed a disappointment, however much I admire the conductor as a person.

He doesn't come to gripps with the magnificent (yes, Paulb!) Second. My own preferred version (there are at least four recordings available) being the one by Lucas Vis conducting the same orchestra on a special Donemus CD (Composers Voice KN1) with an analysis by Ton Braas that opened my ears and eyes to Vermeulen, back in the 1990s.

Good to see you again, Christo!
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

pjme

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2008, 02:31:50 PM »
you guys are funny
"great", 'superb", 'awesome".
I heard no such thing in the music.

We're not funny, we're serious. Just like Vermeulen himself... ;D

« Last Edit: February 17, 2008, 02:33:52 PM by pjme »

Offline offbeat

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2010, 03:46:23 AM »
Just discovered Vermeulen 1st Symphony on my downloads - love it very ecstatic- reminds me a lot of Richard Strauss- completely different from his 2nd which i already think is great but for different reasons - must try and hear some more  :)

Offline Cato

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2010, 07:10:52 PM »
Vermeulen's Second Symphony has an impact like the non-collage works of Charles Ives, e.g. the Robert Browning Overture.

Years ago, I was lucky enough to order this work from Donemus when they provided the score with their recordings!   :o

I assume they no longer do this?   
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Offline Dax

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2010, 03:27:06 AM »

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2010, 08:11:02 AM »
http://www.mediafire.com/file/fm4pw0m2lqo/03 - Vermeulen Symphony No.2 'Prelude a la nouvelle journee'' Eduard van Beinum Jul5 1956.flac


(Concertgebouw Orchestra. Live recording, Van Beinum conducting. 5 July 1956)


http://www.mediafire.com/file/6czxjge3gnq/Symfonie Nr 2, 'Prélude a la nouvelle journée'.mp3


(Rotterdam Philharmonic. Live recording, Otto Ketting conducting. 10 February 1978)
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline offbeat

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2010, 02:18:42 PM »
many tks to Dax and Jezetha - fantastic
virtually nothing an amazon for  Vermeulen  :)

Sean

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2010, 07:32:24 AM »
http://www.mediafire.com/file/fm4pw0m2lqo/03 - Vermeulen Symphony No.2 'Prelude a la nouvelle journee'' Eduard van Beinum Jul5 1956.flac


(Concertgebouw Orchestra. Live recording, Van Beinum conducting. 5 July 1956)


http://www.mediafire.com/file/6czxjge3gnq/Symfonie Nr 2, 'Prélude a la nouvelle journée'.mp3


(Rotterdam Philharmonic. Live recording, Otto Ketting conducting. 10 February 1978)

Thanks. I'm downloading the Ketting now.