Christian Ernst Graaf (1723-1804) : Der Tod Jesu
Passion cantata for soloists, mixed choir and orchestra.
Libretto : Karl Wilhelm Ramler
Marieke Steenhoek (Soprano)
Mirjam Schreur (Alto)
Marcel Beekman (Tenor)
Hugo Oliveira (Bass)
Conductor : Jos van Veldhoven
Utrecht, Muziekcentrum Vredenburg, 18 February 2007
Jan van Gilse (1881-1944) : Sulamith
Cantate for three voices, Orchestra & Chorus
Libretto : Emil Prinz zu Schönaich-Carplath
Hein Meens (Tenor)
Annemarie Dur (Soprano)
Henk Smit (Bariton)
Radio Filharmonisch Orkest
Conductor : Jean Fournet
16 May 1982
Theo van der Bijl (1886-1971) : Het lam zal hen weiden (The lamb shall feed them)
Libretto : J. Das
Corry Bijster (Soprano)
Annie Woud (Alt)
Jan van Mantgem (Tenor)
Frans van der Ven (Bass)
Jo Dusseldorp (Orgel)
Koninklijk Christelijk Oratorium Vereniging “Exelsior”
Conductor : Theo van der Bijl
NCRV, 26 February 1951
Jan van Gilse (1881-1944) : 3 Songs from “Gitanjali”
Libretto : Rabindranath Tagore
Elisabeth Lugt (Soprano)
Koninklijk Concertgebouw Orkest
Conductor : Bernard Haitink
After England the Netherlands have a reputation as the land with the greatest choir traditions. No city or village is known without a choir society. This really becomes obvious around Easter with the many performances of Bach’s Matthaus-Passion. It is then remarkable that no well-known Dutch choir works were produced, and the Netherlands really beging a parasite upon foreign compositions. Many Dutch composers have given it a try, but none have succeeded.
Christian Ernst Graaf was doubtless one of the leading musicians of the
Netherlands in the second part of the 18th century. He was born in 1723 in
Rudolstadt (Germany) as a son of composer Johann Graf. In the years 1750-1754
the young Christian Ernst was leader of the Collegium Musicum in Middelburg, in
the Dutch province of Zeeland. In the second half of 1754 he went to The Hague,
where he became court composer of princess Anna van Hannover, widow of prince William IV.
Later he became the official `Music Composer at the court of the Prince of Orange'. He then changed his last name `Graf' in the more Dutch looking and sounding `Graaf'. When Mozart visited the Netherlands in 1766, he based his variations KV24 on a song of Graaf (`Laat ons juichen, Batavieren').
Graaf published mainly instrumental works, including many symphonies in a `galant' style. His passion cantate `Der Tod Jesu' is a late work of an almost 80 year old composer. Graaf was quite conservative in his musical outlook, but the quality of his invenion is none the less high. Graaf based his text on a poem of Karl Wilhelm Ramler, which was also used by Carl Heinrich Graun for his well known cantata `Der Tod Jesu'. Graaf's cantata was not played for more than 200 years. It was revived last year in Utrecht. This is a recording of that performance.
Theo van der Bijl studied conducting and composition with Cornelis Dopper and vocals with Cateau Esser at the School for Vocal Dramatic Art. He also studied at the Pedagogic Academy for elementary schooling. He started his career as conductor with the schoolchoir of the Pabo. Later he was conductor at the Willibrorduskerk in Amsterdam, the R.K. Oratoriumsociety and the Koninklijke Christelijke Oratoriumvereniging Excelsior. He was the founder of the Bach-orchestra, of which he was also the conductor. As conductor he had premieres of Claude Debussy, Jan Nieland, Willem Andriessen Arthur Honegger a.o. As composer Van der Bijl composed different orchestral works. Especially for Excelsior he composed The Lamb shall feed them. A work that has obviously been inspired by the passions of Bach.
Jan van Gilse, born in Rotterdam, was son of a journalist and politician. In
1897 he was admitted to the conservatory of Cologne, where he was taught by Max
van de Sandt (piano) and Franz Wüllner (composition and conducting). Due to a
personal disagreement his studies came to an early end in 1902. By then he had
begun establishing his name as a composer with the prize-winning First Symphony
(1901) and the cantata ‘Sulamith' (1902), performed in Arnhem.
After studies in Berlin with Engelbert Humperdinck, Van Gilse was appointed conductor and repetiteur at the City Opera of Bremen (1905-1908), than at the ‘Noord-Nederlandsche Opera' in Amsterdam. His Third Symphony ‘Erhebung' was awarded the Michael Beer Prize in 1909. This enabled him to spend a few years in Rome with his wife Ada van Gilse-Hooijer. In 1911 he settled in Munich. Among the works of this period is the opera ‘Frau Helga von Stavern', which has not been performed.
In 1917 Van Gilse was appointed conductor of the Utrecht Symphony Orchestra (USO). A conflict with critic-composer Willem Pijper caused Van Gilse to resign in 1922. In the following years he continued working as a guest conductor and composer, living in the village of Laren, in Zurich and in Berlin respectively. The rise to power of the Nazis in 1933 was reason to leave Germany; Van Gilse accepted the directorship of the Utrecht Conservatory and Music School. In 1937 he resigned.
In the following years he worked on his opera ‘Thijl'. During the German occupation Van Gilse refused membership of the Kulturkammer; as a consequence, his works were no longer performed. Because of his outspoken criticism he had to go into hiding in 1942. Both of his sons were active in the Resistance and were executed by the Nazis in 1943 and 1944. After a wasting disease Van Gilse died in 1944 in Oegstgeest, where he was buried under a false name.
The oeuvre of Van Gilse includes four symphonies, an oratorio ‘Eine Lebensmesse' (1904), ‘Drei Gesänge aus Rabindranath Tagores Gitanjali' for soprano and orchestra (1915), a cantata ‘Der Kreis des Lebens'(1929) and ‘Drei Tanzskizzen' for piano and small orchestra (1926). Stylistically Van Gilse's works belong mostly to the German late romantic tradition, with a growing influence of French composers like Ravel and Roussel.
Van Gilse was among those responsible for the foundation of three musicians' interest organizations: the composers society Geneco (1911), the copyright organization BUMA (1913), and the ‘Stichting Nederlandsche Muziekbelangen' (1935), which promoted performances of Dutch music.