CeBeDeM

CeBeDeM

index
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DURME, Jef Van

Jef VAN DURME was born into a musical family in Kemzeke-Waas (East Flanders) on 7 May 1907. He received his first music lessons (in piano and solfège) from his father. During the First World War he also took lessons from the organist in Sint-Niklaas. In 1914, the Van Durme family moved to Antwerp, where Jef later began his studies at the Sint-Jan Berchmanscollege, in 1918. One year later he also enrolled at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp.

In 1923, he left the Sint-Jan Berchmanscollege. In that year he received his diploma in solfège (under Jan Broeckx). After harmony lessons from Lodewijk De Vocht and Edward Verheyen, he also earned his diploma in this discipline (1927). In 1928, Jef Van Durme completed his studies in keyboard (with De Vos and Lenaerts). He also studied counterpoint, fugue and orchestration with Flor Alpaerts.

After several successful performances of his compositions, the Antwerp Musicians' Association awarded him the Fester Prize in 1929 for his Sonata for violin and piano. In 1931-32, Jef Van Durme set out in a more modern direction as a composer. In this period he studied for three months with Alban Berg in Vienna. Upon his return, he produced several important compositions. He was also active as a performing pianist and wrote articles for Radiopost. In 1935 he took a conducting course with Hermann Scherchen, who conducted his opera Remous in the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels in 1936. Van Durme's work, Heldengedicht (Heroic Poem) won first prize at the International Festival for Contemporary Music in Prague (1935). From 1936 to 1944, he worked for the NIR (the Belgian broadcasting service) as a sound engineer. Van Durme received first prize for his Sinfonia da Camera in 1937 at the International Youth Competition held by the Philharmonic Society of Brussels.

After the war, Jef Van Durme wrote some forty compositions, one of which (the Second Ballade for orchestra) was performed at a festival in Philadelphia in 1952. In 1959, 1961-1962 and 1963, the Ministry of Dutch-language Culture gave him a working grant. On 28 January 1965, Jef Van Durme died in Brussels.

WORKS
Jef Van Durme wrote 35 orchestral works (including two ballets), around 20 works for piano and an equal number of chamber-music works, 40 songs and 6 operas, as well as an oratorio and an organ fantasy. His reputation was that of the 'first Flemish composer of the avant-garde' and 'representative of expressionism in Flemish music' .

The lyrical and passionate Second Piano Trio (1929) was still fully in the Late-Romantic piano trio tradition. The symphonic poem, Beatrijs (1930) corresponds to the work of Richard Strauss both in terms of genre and idiom.

Although Van Durme composed his Heldengedicht in 1935, after his period of study with Alban Berg, the influence of his teacher is not perceptible in the work. This symphonic poem in one movement does not follow a literary programme, but rather is based on an abstract idea. It is built up out of one theme, developed in different ways.

The modern ('expressionistic') elements in the composer's opera, Remous are the harmonic innovations and the content. The libretto (no great masterpiece) by Joseph Weterings is a psychological drama with the classic triangular relationship as its subject. Harmonically, this opera hovers between tonality and atonality. For the orchestration, the vocal techniques, the form and the treatment of motifs, Van Durme drew his inspiration from Wagner and the first operas by Strauss.

In 1936, Van Durme wrote an in memoriam for Alban Berg, his First Ballade for symphonic orchestra. The orchestration of this work is relatively traditional. The tonal harmony, pushed to the limit, efficiently supports the coherently constructed form of this sober and transparently written, through-composed work.

Both the scoring and the genre-heading of Van Durme's First Sinfonia da camera (1937) refer to Schönberg's Kammersymphonie, and possibly also to Berg's Kammerkonzert. The instruments of the ensemble, treated as soloists, are powerfully and efficiently used. In this work, with its strong motivic organisation, the composer, like Schönberg, seems to be afraid of 'empty space' : the contrapuntal writing is of the highest quality, with often exciting polyphonic developments that lead to major climaxes. In harmonic terms, there is a relatively free use of the originally tonal chords and chordal progressions.

The Fifth String Quartet (1953) is a strictly worked out composition, related to Berg's Lyric Suite. It was in fact programmed next to string quartets by Krenek and Schönberg on its first performance. From this it is clear that this string quartet, like the lion's share of Van Durme's oeuvre, was considered to be expressionistic.

SELECTIVE LIST OF WORKS
- Orchestra: Beatrijs op. 6 (1930), Poème héroïque - Heldengedicht op. 14 (1935), First sinfonia da camera op. 16 (1937), First orkestballade op.18 (1936), Breughelsymfonie op. 21 (1942), Fifth symphony op. 51 (1952), Van Gogh Suite s. op. (1954)
- Ballet: Dageraad op. 9 (1933), Oreste op. 10 (1934-1935)
- Chamber music: First violin sonata op. 2 (1928), Second pianotrio op. 4 (1929), Fifth string quartet op.55 (1953)
- Piano: Seven preludes op. 29 (1945), Six preluden op. 44 (1947), Ballads op. 36 (1945-1947), Second sonata op. 52 (1952)
- Lieder: on lyrics by a.o. René Declercq, Charles Baudelaire, Josef Muls, Karel Jonckheere, Philippe Jones, Guido Gezelle en Paul Van Ostaijen, mainly for middle voice and piano
- Opera: Remous op. 15 (1935) on lyrics by Joseph Weterings, La mort d' un commis-voyageur op. 58 (1954-1955) on lyrics by Jef Van Durme after Arthur Millers The dead of the salesman

BIBLIOGRAPHY
- DELAERE, M., Y. KNOCKAERT ans H. SABBE, Nieuwe Muziek in Vlaanderen, Brugge, 1998, p. 19-23.
- DE SUTTER, I., Jef Van Durme. Een Vlaamse kunstenaar met wereldfaam, in vlaams muziektijdschrift, 22/3, march 1970, p. 71-75.
- testimonies by and about jef van durme 1907-1965, in gamma. Bimensual for music and vinyl records, 27/3, mai-june 1975, p. 92-97.
- HEUGHEBAERT, H., Jef van Durme, miskend toondichter uit het Vlaams ekspressionisme, in Ons Erfdeel, 18/5, 1975, p. 774-778.
- VON VOLBORTH-DANYS, D., Jef Van Durme, in CeBeDeM en zijn aangesloten componisten, ed. dr. D. VON VOLBORTH-DANYS, Brussel, 1977, p. 116-119, p. 205.
- http://www.gallery.uunet.be/Cahal/PagesN/JefVanDurme.html
- http://www.gallery.uunet.be/Cahal/PagesN/JVDurme.html
- http://www.svm.be (under construction)

DISCOGRAPHY
Beatrijs op. 6, by Philharmonie van Antwerpen cond. Léonce Gras, Cultura 5069-2.

[© 2001 Klaartje Gonnissen, for MATRIX]

works

  • (oeuvre non identifiée)
    orchestra 00:00:00
  • Ach, speel niet met mijn hart, 1933
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • Allegro appassionnato, 1930
    cello and piano 00:00:00
  • Allegro capriccioso, 1963
    piano 00:09:00
  • Antonius und Kleopatra, 1957
    opera 00:00:00
  • Avondzang
    piano 00:00:00
  • Ballade, 1933
    piano 00:00:00
  • Ballade op. 18, 1938
    orchestra 00:15:00
  • Ballade nr.2 op. 38, 1948
    orchestra 00:15:00
  • Ballade nr.3, 1961
    orchestra 00:13:00
  • Ballade nr.3 op. 36/3, 1946
    piano 00:00:00
  • Ballades op. 36, 1945
    piano 00:00:00
  • Béatrice op. 6, 1930
    orchestra 00:20:00
  • Breuk
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • Brueghel symphonie op. 21, 1942
    orchestra 00:30:00
  • Castor sans Pollux
    violin and piano 00:00:00
  • Complainte
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • Concerto op. 35, 1947
    violin and orchestra 00:25:00
  • Concerto de chambre, 1937
    chamber orchestra 00:20:00
  • Concerto nr.1 op. 25, 1942
    piano and orchestra 00:00:00
  • Concerto nr.2 op. 31, 1946
    piano and orchestra 00:25:00
  • Dageraad - L'aube op. 9, 1933
    orchestra 00:40:00
  • De 14 stonden op. 7, 1931
    Soloists, mixed choir and orchestra 00:50:00
  • De 14 stonden op. 7, 1931
    Mz., Bar., mixed choir and piano 00:50:00
  • De gouden dag is heen, 1931
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • De gouden dag is heen, 1931
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • De lente komt, 1928
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • De lente komt, 1928
    Baritone and orchestra 00:00:00
  • De meiboom, 1929
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • De vagebonden, 1931
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • Drie liederen op. 53, 1952
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • Eja, Mater, Fons Amoris, 1959
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • Elegie nr.1 op. 13, 1932
    orchestra 00:00:00
  • Elegie nr.2 op. 23, 1938
    orchestra 00:00:00
  • En verre tochten gaan, 1939
    declamation and piano 00:00:00
  • Fantasia op. 40, 1948
    cello and piano 00:10:00
  • Fantasia op. 43, 1949
    organ 00:00:00
  • Feestklanken
    piano 00:00:00
  • Hamlet op. 3, 1929
    orchestra 00:13:00
  • Het heidekruid
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • Impromptu, 1928
    piano 00:00:00
  • Indrukken uit Groothertogdom Luxembourg, 1930
    piano 00:00:00
  • König Lear op. 59, 1955
    opera 02:30:00
  • König Lear op. 59, 1955
    mixed choir and piano 02:30:00
  • Kinder - dankbaarheid
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • L'alouette, 1961
    Soprano and piano 00:00:00
  • L'arrivée du printemps, 1922
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • La destruction - De verwoesting op. 20, 1939
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • La mort op. 34/1, 1946
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • La mort d'un commis-voyageur op. 58, 1954
    opera 00:00:00
  • La mort d'un commis-voyageur op. 58, 1954
    mixed choir and piano 00:00:00
  • Lentelach, 1929
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • Les ténèbres op. 20, 1939
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • Lyrisch poème
    orchestra 00:00:00
  • Mei - Seringen, 1929
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • Mietje, 1931
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • Mietje, 1931
    Baritone and orchestra 00:00:00
  • Misverstand
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • Moeder, 1954
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • Moedertaal
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • Nachtlicht
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • Nocturne, 1946
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • Nocturne, 1946
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • O lieve zoete kind, 1946
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • O lieve zoete kind, 1946
    Soprano and piano 00:00:00
  • Orestes op. 10, 1936
    orchestra 00:30:00
  • Orestes op. 10, 1934
    orchestra 00:30:00
  • Ouverture pour un drame op. 48, 1952
    orchestra 00:15:00
  • Pianotrio n°1 op. 1, 1928
    violin, cello and piano 00:00:00
  • Pianowerken
    piano 00:00:00
  • Poème héroïque - Heldengedicht op. 14, 1935
    orchestra 00:13:00
  • Recueillement op. 20, 1939
    middle voice and keyboard 00:00:00
  • Remous op. 15, 1935
    opera 00:35:00
  • Remous op. 15, 1935
    Soloists and piano 00:35:00
  • Richard III, 1964
    opera 00:00:00
  • Sarabanda, 1929
    piano 00:00:00
  • Schemerliedje
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • Schemerliedje
    Baritone and orchestra 00:00:00
  • Secret
    middle voice and piano 00:00:00
  • Sept préludes op. 29, 1945
    piano 00:20:00
  • Sextette op. 5, 1930
    flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn and piano 00:15:00
  • Sinfonia da camera nr.2 op. 45, 1949
    chamber orchestra 00:25:00
  • Six préludes op. 44, 1947
    piano 00:20:00
  • Sonate op. 32, 1930
    piano 00:00:00
  • Sonate, 1927
    piano 00:00:00
  • Sonate op. 49, 1952
    cello and piano 00:25:00
  • Sonate, 1930
    piano 00:00:00
  • Sonate nr.1 op. 2, 1928
    violin and piano 00:00:00
  • Sonate nr.2 op. 52, 1952
    piano 00:25:00
  • Sonate nr.2 op. 19, 1940
    violin and piano 00:00:00
  • Sonate nr.3 op. 37, 1947
    violin and piano 00:25:00
  • Strijkkwartet, 1946
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:00:00
  • Strijkkwartet
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:00:00
  • Strijkkwartet nr.1 op. 8, 1932
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:25:00
  • Strijkkwartet nr.2 op. 17, 1944
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:30:00
  • Strijkkwartet nr.3 op. 28, 1945
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:25:00
  • Strijkkwartet nr.4 op. 39, 1948
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:25:00
  • Strijkkwartet nr.5 op. 55, 1953
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:12:00
  • Suite op. 24, 1928
    piano 00:20:00
  • Suite op. 50, 1951
    flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon 00:00:00
  • Suite extraite du ballet 'L'aube', 1933
    orchestra 00:00:00
  • Suite nr.1 op. 33, 1947
    orchestra 00:17:00
  • Suite nr.2, 1949
    orchestra 00:20:00
  • Suite nr.3, 1962
    orchestra 00:00:00
  • Symfonie nr.1 op. 12, 1939
    orchestra 00:28:00
  • Symfonie nr.2 op. 22, 1939
    orchestra 00:28:00
  • Symfonie nr.3 op. 30, 1946
    orchestra 00:30:00
  • Symfonie nr.4 op. 46, 1951
    orchestra 00:23:00
  • Symfonie nr.5 op. 51, 1952
    orchestra 00:32:00
  • Symfonie nr.5 op. 51, 1952
    orchestra 00:32:00
  • Symfonie nr.6 op. 54, 1953
    orchestra 00:25:00
  • Symfonische proloog op. 27, 1945
    orchestra 00:13:00
  • Tijdeloos bestaan
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • Trio nr.2 op. 4, 1931
    violin, cello and piano 00:19:30
  • Trio nr.3 op. 26, 1942
    violin, cello and piano 00:00:00
  • Trio nr.4, 1949
    violin, cello and piano 00:25:00
  • Trois mélodies op. 34, 1946
    middle voice and orchestra 00:13:00
  • Trois mélodies op. 34, 1946
    middle voice and piano 00:13:00
  • Trois poèmes de Baudelaire op. 20, 1939
    middle voice and orchestra 00:00:00
  • Van Gogh-suite, 1954
    orchestra 00:25:00
  • Vier lyrische stukken op. 47, 1950
    piano 00:00:00
  • Vlanderland
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • Vlanderland
    Choir and orchestra 00:00:00
  • Vreugde, 1942
    Narrator and piano 00:00:00
  • Vreugde, 1942
    Narrator and piano 00:00:00
  • Wiegeliedje voor de geliefde
    Baritone and piano 00:00:00
  • [Zevenmaal rechtveerdig man], 1931
    mixed choir and piano 00:00:00
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