CeBeDeM

CeBeDeM

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DEVREESE, Frédéric

Frédéric DEVREESE was born on 2 June 1929 in Amsterdam to a very music family. His mother played the violin, as did his father Godfried, who was also a well-known composer and conductor. Devreese took his first lessons in harmony from his father at the conservatory in Mechelen. He later studied at the Brussels conservatory with Marcel Poot (composition) and René Defossez (orchestral conducting). In 1949 he won the composition prize at the international piano competition in Oostende with his first piano concerto, which as a result became the compulsory work in that competition.

This led to national attention and grants to study in Rome (composition with Ildebrando Pizzetti and conducting with Previtali) and Vienna (conducting with Hans Swarowski). Devreese rounded off these studies in 1956, returning to Belgium. In 1958 he made television programmes for the then BRT (state broadcaster), where he would later become a director and producer. He also worked for three years at the BRT producing soundtracks, ideal training for his later work as a composer of film music.

Devreese has always taken great interest in young musicians, whom he has sought to stimulate and promote though such initiatives as Tenuto (Belgian national competition for talented musicians under 25), Jong Tenuto (for musicians under 17) and Procemus (centre for promotion and production of young talent). He was also the chief conductor of the Belgian Youth Orchestra and director of the music academy in Overijse. Devreese has won a number of prizes with his work, including the Prix Italia (1963) for his opera Willem van Saefthinghe, written for the BRT, the Georges Delerue Award (1994) for La Partie d’Echecs, and the Joseph Plateau Prize (1988 and 1990) for the film music to L’Oeuvre au Noir and Het Sacrement respectively.

WORK REVIEW
Frédéric Devreese’s oeuvre is highly varied. Besides four piano concertos, he has written a violin concerto, a symphony, chamber music, two operas, ballet suites, songs and film music. His film music would have a significant influence on his other works. On the one hand, because of the lack of financial means in the film industry, he was forced to write for smaller ensembles, leading to an exploration of certain sound idioms; on the other, he could be certain that his work would be performed.
The music itself is not experimental, and thus does not divert attention from the visual aspect. The music serves primarily to deepen the visual-dramatic reality. This results in a very accessible style, in which use is made of atonal elements. His works also have a clear formal structure. These characteristics are also found in his classical works.
Devreese’s film music is very evocative on its own merits, allowing it to be played independently as concert music. He has also written a number of orchestral suites, based on his original film music, such as Benvenuta and L’Oeuvre au Noir. In addition, there is a degree of overlapping between his classical oeuvre and his film music. For example, two movements from his cello concerto Canti, written in 1999 for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders, formed the accompaniment for one of the characters in the film Pauline et Paulette by Lieven Debrauwer (2000).
In the early years of his composition career, Frédéric Devreese used classical genres and forms such as the concerto and the symphony. Although he wrote his first piano concerto (1949) at the age of 19, the work is typical of the creativity and originality of his whole oeuvre. Like the three following piano concertos, the last of which became a compulsory work for the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 1983, the piano is treated as a melody, rhythm and colour instrument. Devreese tends towards short motifs that appear in different colourings and tessituras. To a certain degree he maintains tonality, but he avoids confirming cadence-formulas and common harmonic sequences. He colours the tonal system through the frequent use of the so-called major-minor chord (major and minor thirds together). This chord also makes a link to jazz, with its typical blue-note character (the use of the minor third as deviation). The influence of jazz in his early music is clear enough, heard in the many echoes of Gershwin in his piano concertos and his one symphony. The constantly varying rhythm forms the backbone of this music. Devreese has a predilection for three-against-two rhythms. The dynamic structuring and the orchestration also contribute to the creation of climaxes. In this sense, his piano concertos are reminiscent of the nineteenth-century Romantic bravura concerto.
The TV opera Willem van Saefthingen (1962) is a total spectacle that makes use of slides, film images, fantastical decors and expressive music. The opera tells the story of a young man who wants to become a priest but is hindered by his personal background: in a past war he committed a murder. The war with its epic scenes of thousands is represented by dissonant harmonies, a compact orchestration and accentuated rhythms. There are also moments in the music that depict the serenity and prayerfulness of the monastic life. Devreese and director Mark Liebrecht won the prestigious Prix Italia in 1964 for this opera.

In 1980, Devreese wrote the ballet Gemini for two pianos, reworking it for double orchestra six years later. Twins are born (Birth) and one of them teaches the other to dance (Dance of the Twins). When they attempt to seduce the ladies of the other Zodiac signs (Seduction) they are challenged to a fight (Fight). One of the two dies, and the second cannot live without him and also dies (Death). The movements of the composition are linked together by three short intermezzi. The image of the twins is particularly clear in the piano version. The pianos are constantly imitating one another and are contrapuntally juxtaposed. Another musical depiction of the twins is the use of symmetry of a pianist’s two hands, making identical movements or perfectly mirroring one another. In the orchestral version, Devreese’s point of departure is the contrast in the different instrumental colours. For instance, he opposes groups from the same family of instruments (e.g., brass vs. brass or strings vs. strings). Although Devreese clearly works out the idea of twins in this ballet, he always writes his ballets independently from a libretto; the music is thus more than a simple illustration of extra-musical content.

A final important work by Devreese is his cello concert Canti (1999). This concerto, consisting of one slow movement, is subdivided into an Introduzione, three Canti and an Epilogo. The cello solo is flanked by a classical symphony orchestra, supplemented by soft, colourful instruments such as the harp, the celeste and the vibraphone. This offers the composer the opportunity to achieve a diversity of timbres and sound combinations. In the cello part, Devreese avoids pure virtuosity in favour of a melodious, expressive lyricism.

Devreese’s music is thus highly original and, despite its sometimes modern and direct expression, very accessible. In the course of his career he evolved from an irrepressible vitality characterised by jazz effects and Gershwin echoes to a more universal style, deeper in its expression and more balanced in its structure.

LIST OF WORKS
- Orchestra: Pianoconcerto nr. 1 (1949); Violinconcerto (1951); Pianoconcerto nr. 2 (1952); Symphony (1952); Pianoconcerto nr. 3 (1955); Mascarade (1956); Pianoconcerto nr. 4 (1983); Benvenuta (1984); Gemini (1986); L'Oeuvre au Noir (1988); Canti (1999)
- Opera: Willem van Saefthingen (1962-63); De Vreemde Ruiter (1976)
- Chamber music: Divertimenti (1970); Don Juan (1974); Vier Walsen (1979); Sax-Blues (1995); Suite (1998); Récitativo et Allegro (2000)
- Piano: Mascarade (1953); Prélude (1972); Gemini (1980); Black and White (1984); Short Waltzes (1997); Mobile (2000)
- Songs: Drie Kleengedichtjes (1947); Zes Liederen (1962); Vannacht (1988)
- Film music: De man die zijn haar kort liet knippen (1966); Un Soir un Train... (1968); Ik, Ensor (1972); Belle (1973); Benvenuta (1983); L'Oeuvre au Noir (1988); Het Sacrament (1989); La Partie d'Echecs (1994); Pauline et Paulette (2000)

BIBLIOGRAPHY
- V. BOSMANS, Devreese Frédéric: Mascerade (1953), in Contemporary Music in Flanders II: Flemish Piano Music since 1950, uitg. dr. M. DELAERE en J. COMPEERS, Leuven, 2005, p. 22-23
- Y. KNOCKAERT, art. Frédéric Devreese, in M. DELAERE, Y. KNOCKAERT en H. SABBE, Nieuwe Muziek in Vlaanderen, Brugge, 1998, p. 112-113
- Y. KNOCKAERT en K. MERTENS, art. Devreese, Fréderic, in New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, uitg.dr. S. Sadie, 2001
- Y. KNOCKAERT, Frederik Devreese: Pianoconcerti nr. 2-4, in cd-boekje Naxos 8.554125
- Y. KNOCKAERT, Frederik Devreese, in cd-boekje Cypres 1619
- A. LOMMELEN en K. VERLIE, Gesprek met Frédéric Devreese, in Aquarius Nieuwsbrief, uitg. dr. J. RAES, 10 (20/03/00), p. 6-7
- E. 'T SEYEN, De levenswals van een romanticus, in Muziek en Woord, jg. 30, nr. 357, p. 10-11
 
DISCOGRAPHY
- Pianoconcerti 2,3 & 4 (piano: D. Blumenthal, BRTN Filharmonisch Orkest o.l.v. F. Devreese), Marco Polo 8.223505
- Pianoconcerti 2,3 & 4 (piano: D. Blumenthal, BRTN Filharmonisch Orkest o.l.v. F. Devreese), Naxos 8.554125
- Benvenuta, Un Soir Un Train..., L'Oeuvre au Noir, Belle (BRTN Filharmonisch Orkest o.l.v. F. Devreese), MARCO POLO FILM MUSIC CLASSICS, Marco Polo 8.22368
- Soundtrack: Dances, Divertimenti & Preludes (piano: André De Groote), Marco Polo 8.223651
- Gemini: Orchestral & Piano Works (piano: D. Blumenthal en R. Groslot, BRTN Filharmonisch Orkest), Cyprès 1619
- L'Oeuvre au Noir (Nationaal Orkest van België o.l.v. F. Devreese), Barclay 835 901-2
- Het Sacrament (BRTN Symfonisch Orkest en Ensemble o.l.v. F. Devreese), Indisc 3654
- Benvenuta, RC 275 A 214
- La Partie d'Echecs (Sinfonia Orkest o.l.v.F. Devreese), Virgin 8040029 2
- Violin Concerto (viool: H. Raudales, Nieuw Vlaams Symfonisch Orkest o.l.v. D. Brossé), RG Prod. CD 87080
- Masque for Brassband (Desford Colliery Caterpillar Band cond. by James Watson), DHM 3002.3
- Suite nr. 1 for Brassquint (Beaux-arts Brass quintet, Symphonic Brass, Nederland), DHR 5.005-3
- Passage à 5. Soledad VC 45625 (2003)
- Variations et thème (Marcato Pianokwartet) CD Etcetera KTC 1267 (2004)
- Frédéric Devreese - 22 Waltzes (Luc Devos, piano) CD Etcetera KTC 4003 (2004)
- Benvenuta: Op Gouden Vleugels 2005 (Simoens Trio), Jeugd en Muziek, JM - 003 (2005)
 

[© 2002 Veerle Bosmans, voor MATRIX ; © 2006 Rebecca Diependaele, voor MATRIX]

works

  • "Mein Name ist Bach", 2002
    string orchestra 00:00:00
  • 5 Divertimenti, 1985
    saxophone quartet 00:12:00
  • Ballade à Damien, 1988
    children's choir and various instruments 00:16:00
  • Ballade à Damien, 1988
    piano 00:16:00
  • Belle, 1973
    string orchestra 00:09:07
  • Belle (filmmuziek nr.7), 1973
    string orchestra 00:00:00
  • Benvenuta, 1998
    alto saxophone and piano 00:16:00
  • Benvenuta, 1983
    violin and piano 00:16:00
  • Benvenuta, 1990
    violin or clarinet, cello and piano 00:16:00
  • Benvenuta, 1998
    cello and piano 00:16:00
  • Benvenuta, 1984
    orchestra 00:16:00
  • Benvenuta, 1998
    alto saxophone, accordeon and string orchestra 00:17:00
  • Benvenuta
    clarinet and piano 00:16:00
  • Benvenuta, 1990
    violin, cello and piano 00:16:00
  • Benvenuta, 1990
    clarinet, cello and piano 00:16:00
  • Benvenuta
    band 00:00:00
  • Benvenuta, 1983
    violin and piano 00:00:00
  • Benvenuta
    violin, accordeon, piano, guitar and double bass 00:00:00
  • Benvenuta
    clarinet, accordeon and clarinet choir 00:00:00
  • Benvenuta, 1990
    violin, cello and piano 00:16:00
  • Benvenuta: Orchestral Suite n°1
    orchestra 00:16:00
  • Benvenuta: Suite
    viola and piano 00:00:00
  • Benvenuta: Suite, 1990
    clarinet, cello and piano 00:16:00
  • Benvenuta: Tango, 1987
    orchestra 00:03:45
  • Berceuse & Finale, 1991
    violin and piano 00:05:00
  • Berceuse & Finale
    flute and piano 00:00:00
  • Berceuse & Finale
    violin and string orchestra 00:00:00
  • Black & White, 1984
    piano 00:17:00
  • Blues, 1989
    trumpet and piano 00:03:30
  • Blues, 2004
    trumpet and piano 00:03:30
  • Blues, 1989
    alto saxophone and piano 00:03:30
  • Blues, 1989
    clarinet in B flat and piano 00:03:30
  • Butterfly, 2006
    flute and marimba 00:01:30
  • Canti, 2000
    cello and piano 00:21:00
  • Canti, 1999
    cello and orchestra 00:22:00
  • Canti, 2000
    viola and piano 00:21:00
  • Canti, 1999
    cello and orchestra 00:22:00
  • Circles, 2007
    violin and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    viola and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    cello and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    alto saxophone and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    double bass and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    flute and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    oboe and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    clarinet in B flat and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    clarinet in E flat 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    bass clarinet and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    bassoon and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    horn and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    trumpet and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    trombone and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    tuba and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    barytone and piano 00:06:00
  • Circles, 2007
    orchestra 00:06:00
  • Concertino, 1998
    cello, bandoneon and string orchestra 00:16:00
  • Concerto, 1951
    violin and orchestra 00:24:00
  • Concerto, 1951
    violin and piano 00:24:00
  • Concerto, 2006
    violin and string orchestra 00:24:00
  • Concerto nr.1 op. 5, 1949
    2 pianos 00:23:00
  • Concerto nr.1 op. 5, 1949
    piano and orchestra 00:23:00
  • Concerto nr.2, 1952
    2 pianos 00:22:00
  • Concerto nr.2, 1952
    piano and orchestra 00:22:00
  • Concerto nr.3, 1956
    2 pianos 00:21:00
  • Concerto nr.3, 1956
    piano and orchestra 00:21:00
  • Concerto nr.4, 1983
    piano and orchestra 00:15:00
  • Concerto nr.4, 1983
    2 pianos 00:15:00
  • Danse à l'auberge, 2009
    2 pianos 00:00:00
  • Deux mouvements pour cordes, 1953
    string orchestra 00:15:00
  • Divertimenti, 1970
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:12:00
  • Divertimenti, 1970
    string orchestra 00:12:00
  • Divertimenti, 1970
    two clarinets, basset horn and bass clarinet 00:12:00
  • Divertimenti a due, 1996
    guitar and violin 00:11:00
  • Divertimenti a due, 1999
    violin and cello 00:12:00
  • Drie dansen, 1991
    ten woodwind instruments 00:11:30
  • Drie Gezelle-liederen, 1947
    high voice and orchestra 00:06:00
  • Drie kleengedichtjes, 1947
    Mezzo-Soprano and piano 00:03:00
  • Drie koningen ter Schelde
    Mezzo-Soprano and piano 00:03:00
  • Drie liederen op. 4, 1948
    Mezzo-Soprano and piano 00:04:15
  • Evocations, 1962
    band 00:19:00
  • Evocations, 1962
    orchestra 00:18:00
  • Final game II, 2003
    violin, accordeon, piano, guitar and double bass 00:00:00
  • Four final games, 2003
    violin, accordeon, piano, guitar and double bass 00:00:00
  • Gemini, 1980
    2 pianos 00:26:00
  • Gemini, 1986
    orchestra 00:23:00
  • Gemini
    violin, accordeon, piano, guitar and double bass 00:00:00
  • Gemini, 2007
    2 symphonic bands 00:23:00
  • Habanera for Toots and orchestra, 1987
    mouth organ and orchestra 00:06:00
  • James Ensor Suite, 2005
    saxophone quartet 00:11:00
  • James Ensor Suite, 2005
    string orchestra 00:11:00
  • James Ensor Suite, 2005
    clarinet quintet 00:12:00
  • L'oeuvre au noir, 1988
    orchestra 00:24:00
  • L'oeuvre au noir (2 delen), 1988
    orchestra 00:00:00
  • L'oeuvre au noir (3 delen), 1988
    orchestra 00:00:00
  • L'oeuvre au noir: Orchestral Suite n°2
    orchestra 00:26:00
  • L'oeuvre au noir: Suite n°2 pour orchestre, 2006
    orchestra 00:26:00
  • La fleur de l'été, 1968
    song, string orchestra and guitar 00:02:30
  • La fleur de l'été, 1968
    Mezzo-Soprano and piano 00:02:30
  • La partie d'échecs, 1994
    string orchestra and piano 00:15:00
  • La partie d'échecs, 2006
    string orchestra, piano and celesta 00:20:00
  • La partie d'échecs: Orchestral Suite n°3, 2006
    orchestra 00:22:00
  • La vie s'en va...
    Mezzo-Soprano and piano 00:03:00
  • Mascarade, 1953
    piano 00:13:00
  • Mascarade, 1956
    orchestra 00:14:00
  • Masque, 1989
    fanfare 00:00:00
  • Mireille's Book: Sogno, 2006
    piano 00:00:00
  • Mobile, 2000
    four-handed piano 00:05:00
  • Mobile, 2000
    piano 00:05:00
  • Nine waltzes, 2001
    piano 00:24:30
  • Ostinati, 1997
    saxophone and piano 00:17:30
  • Overture, 1976
    orchestra 00:06:30
  • Overture for band, 1986
    band 00:06:30
  • Passage, 2004
    orchestra 00:12:00
  • Passage à cinq, 2002
    violin, guitar, accordeon, piano and double bass 00:11:00
  • Passage à deux, 2003
    violin and piano 00:11:00
  • Prélude "La vie s'en va"
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:00:00
  • Prélude "La vie s'en va"
    string orchestra 00:00:00
  • Prélude "La vie s'en va", 1973
    violin and piano 00:03:00
  • Prelude, 1981
    orchestra 00:07:00
  • Prelude
    violin, accordeon, piano, guitar and double bass 00:00:00
  • Prelude 2
    piano 00:05:00
  • Recitativo e allegro, 1955
    trumpet and orchestra 00:08:00
  • Recitativo et Allegro, 2000
    trumpet and piano 00:07:00
  • Rendez-vous à Bray, 1970
    string orchestra 00:00:00
  • Ritornella, 2000
    chime bells 00:00:00
  • Sax-blues
    alto saxophone and piano 00:00:00
  • Short waltzes, 1997
    piano 00:10:00
  • Soundtrack vol.I, 1970
    piano 00:26:00
  • Soundtrack vol.II, 1970
    piano 00:17:45
  • Soundtrack vol.III, 1970
    piano 00:25:30
  • Suite, 1970
    2 trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba 00:12:00
  • Suite for brass
    fanfare 00:00:00
  • Suite n°2, 1981
    2 trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba 00:11:00
  • Suite n°3 "La partie d'échecs", 2006
    band 00:20:00
  • Suite uit Willem van Saeftinghe, 1962
    orchestra 00:00:00
  • Symphonic movement, 1952
    orchestra 00:07:00
  • Symphonie, 1953
    orchestra 00:23:00
  • The third waltz
    violin, accordeon, piano, guitar and double bass 00:00:00
  • Theme Bach - Frédéric II, 2002
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:00:00
  • Three pieces, 2002
    flute and piano 00:09:00
  • Three pieces, 2002
    alto saxophone and piano 00:09:00
  • Three pieces, 2002
    clarinet and piano 00:09:00
  • Three Waltzes
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:10:36
  • Three Waltzes
    string orchestra 00:10:36
  • Treurklacht, 1951
    oboe, cello or middle voice and piano 00:04:00
  • Treurklacht, 1951
    oboe and piano 00:04:00
  • Treurklacht, 1951
    cello and piano 00:04:00
  • Treurklacht, 1951
    middle voice and piano 00:04:00
  • Two preludes
    string orchestra 00:10:00
  • Un soir un train..., 1968
    cello and orchestra 00:06:00
  • Un soir, un train, 1968
    cello or baritone) and orchestra 00:07:00
  • Valse de Pauline
    piano 00:00:00
  • Valse sacrée, 1989
    orchestra 00:06:00
  • Valse sacrée, 1989
    violin and piano 00:06:00
  • Valse sacrée, 1989
    violin, cello and piano 00:06:00
  • Vannacht
    Mezzo-Soprano and piano 00:03:00
  • Variations and theme, 2003
    violin, viola, cello and piano 00:17:00
  • Variations and theme, 2003
    string orchestra 00:17:00
  • Variations and theme, 2003
    2 violins, viola, cello and piano 00:17:00
  • Vier oude Vlaamse liederen, 1966
    mixed Choir a cappella 00:10:00
  • Wiegelied voor Jesse, 1992
    piano 00:00:00
  • Works for clarinet choir
    n clarinets 01:08:00
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