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GISTELINCK, Elias

Elias GISTELINCK was born in 1935 in Beveren aan de Leie. At the early age of fifteen, he enrolled at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, where he studied trumpet, chamber music, harmony and counterpoint. He later pursued his studies at the Conservatory in Paris and in 1962 participated in the Ferienkurse in Darmstadt. Gistelinck was already playing the trumpet in the National Orchestra of Belgium at the age of seventeen. Although he was a laureate of the international music competition in Munich in 1953, he left classical music behind him after several years in order to play in a jazz orchestra, touring throughout Europe. He would later abandon his career as a performing musician altogether in order to devote himself full-time to composing.

From 1961, Gistelinck worked for the BRT (Belgian Radio and Television), first as a freelance assistant, and later as first producer at Radio 3, the classical programme. There he dedicated himself to promoting the broadcasting of Belgian music. In 1975, he took several important steps in this regard: the BRT would commission ten works per year from Belgian composers; some 25 works by Belgian composers were to be broadcast per week, and conductors and performers would be obliged to program at least one work by a Belgian composer in BRT concerts and recordings. Gistelinck received the Fuga Prize for this engagement in promoting Belgian music.
Elias Gistelinck has received awards for many of his compositions, both in Belgium and abroad. In Belgium he has won, among other prizes, the Prize of the Belgian Music Press and the Belgian Artistic Promotion Prize. In France, his complete oeuvre was crowned with the Prix de la Fondation de France and in 1969 he won the Italia Prize for his Ndessé ou Blues.

WORKS
In his music, Elias Gistelinck strives for a blend of (contemporary) classical music and jazz. The important place of jazz in his life was evident early on when as a trumpet player he traded in a classical orchestra for a jazz orchestra; later he also founded the Jazz Middelheim festival. Gistelinck opposed the condescending attitude, prevalent earlier in his career, of the conservatories towards genres such as jazz and light music. He made a plea for treating classical music, jazz and pop as equals - as was the case in the United States.

In his compositions, the references to jazz are chiefly evident in the scoring (for instance, he scores for jazz musicians and classical orchestra), in particular chords and chord progressions, in the choice of titles ( Song for Miles , for example, for trumpet and piano, 1996) and in the quasi-improvised character of the melodies (which are, however, completely written out).

Several works in which theses jazz influences are at their clearest are Per Che for narrator, bass clarinet and big band (1967), Ndessé ou Blues for narrator, jazz trio, jazz orchestra and symphony orchestra (1969) and Three Movements for jazz quintet (quartet) and symphony orchestra (1985).
A composition by Gistelinck will often be the result of a personal or public event. For instance, he composed Elegy for Jan (1976) for symphony orchestra, in memory of a pupil who had died, and Funeral Music for Ptah IV (1974), a trio for violin, cello and piano, after the death of the Chilean president Salvador Allende. The fact that in composing his music, Gistelinck often chooses such a clear point of departure does not, however, mean that his music may be termed programmatic.
Gistelinck's whole oeuvre exudes a deep emotionality. Composing is for him the expression of controlled, inner emotions that tend to reflect his melancholic nature. This leads to a romantic style with broad melodies and a constructive cell-development. In terms of the harmony, this results in an expanded sense of tonality. His music is usually tonally conceived or at least constructed around a tonal centre. Especially from the middle of the 1970s, Gistelinck's compositions show a definite tendency towards tonal conceptions in the structure as well as the melody and harmony. This tendency is particularly clear in Lullaby for Nathalie for violin and piano (1985), a work with an almost naive melodic line, accompanied by simple chords.

Gistelinck himself has said that he has always felt the need to compose intuitively in order to express himself in the melody of his music. For this same reason, he has not felt at home in the serialism of those he terms 'intellectualistic engineer-composers', such as Boulez and Pousseur. His style is at odds with any kind of musical intellectualism.

Gistelinck's ideas concerning tonality and atonality continue in this same line. He sees tonality as inherently linked with the nature of sound and the succession of the overtone series. The higher up the registers of the overtone series are followed, the more chromatic it becomes, leading eventually to atonal music. In Gistelinck's opinion, there is no hierarchy between the different pitches in atonal music and thus no longer any sense of stability. This composer requires a basis in his compositions, a point of reference out of which the melody can be built up.

SELECTIVE LIST OF WORKS
- Solopieces: Five portraits (1965), Breaks (1971), Shouts (1971), Cantus (1973), Short Elegy (1974), Five preludes for a little boy (1982), Suite in four mouvements (1983), Clowns (1990), Rita's mood (1993), De Profundis (1999).
- Orchestra: Ndessé ou Blues (1969), Composition for Terpsychore and Euterpe (1971), Elegy for Jan (1976), Three Movements (1985), Concerto for violin and orchestra (1986), Onyx (1991), First Symphony (1991), Second Symphony (1994), De Profundis (1995).
- Chamber music: Trio (1962), Suite (1962), Per Che (1967), Small cantate for Jeanne Lee (1968), Koan (1971), Funeral Music for Ptah IV (1975), Lullaby for Nathalie (1984), Music for Thanksgiving (1987), Music for Andriane (1988), String Quartet II (1991), Song for Beatrice (1992), Lia's Koan (1993), Three little compositions for Marc Sleen (1995), Music for Miles (1996), Three easy pieces (2000), Clarinetquintett (2001).

SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY
- DELAERE, M., Y. KNOCKAERT and H. SABBE, Nieuwe Muziek in Vlaanderen, Brugge, 1998, p. 109-115.
- MERTENS, C., art. Gistelinck, Elias, in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, uitg. dr. S. SADIE, 7, Londen, 1980, p. 409.
- SABBE, H., art. Gistelinck, Elias, in Algemene Muziekencyclopedie, ed. dr. J. ROBIJNS en ZIJLSTRA, 3, Haarlem, 1981, p. 8.
- VAN DEN BUYS, K., Huldeconcert Elias Gistelinck, in Program notes Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel, oktober 1995, p. 5-7.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY
- Five preludes for a little boy, Funeral Music for Ptah IV, Suite for solo violin, Cantus for solo oboe, Lullaby for Nathalie, Music for one dancer (J. Spanoghe, V. Spanoghe, A. De Groote, D. Decaluwé, J. De Maeyer), Compact Disc DDD nr. 87002.
- Ndessé ou Blues, Shouts for clarinet solo (BRT Symfonisch Orkest, BRT Jazzorkest, F. Terby, P. Roland, W. Boeykens), Cultura 5072 N - 1.
- Per Che (Radio Jazzorkest, E. Gistelinck), Cultura 5069 - 4.
- Shouts (W. Boeykens), CBS/33.
- Song for Agnes (N. Davis), Edici 006101.
- Lia's Koan, for Clarinet, cello and piano (Trio Marc Vertessen), René Gailly International Productions CD87068
- Music for René, for Violin and Piano (Jenny Spanoghe, viool, Daniel Blumenthal, piano), René Gailly International Productions CD87113
- The Millenium violin, for violin and piano (Jenny Spanoghe, viool, Jean-Claude Vanden Eynde, piano), René Gailly International Productions CD87165
- Contemporary String Quartet (Gaggini String Quartet), Phaedra CDXII DDD

[© 2002 Els Vercammen - Eva Demeyer, for MATRIX]

works

  • 't Daghet op. 20, 1973
    bass clarinet 00:00:00
  • 2001 op. 63, 2000
    clarinet and string quartet 00:09:40
  • Antieke alchemie op. 8, 1966
    Tenor and string quartet 00:16:40
  • Breaks op. 15, 1971
    flute 00:00:00
  • Cantus op. 19, 1973
    oboe 00:05:52
  • Clowns op. 45/bis, 1990
    harpsichord or piano 00:12:01
  • Clowns op. 45/bis, 1990
    harpsichord 00:12:01
  • Clowns op. 45/bis, 1990
    piano 00:12:01
  • Clowns II op. 47, 1990
    violin and piano 00:00:00
  • Clowns III op. 48, 1902
    viola and piano 00:00:00
  • Concerto op. 50, 1990
    clarinet in B flat and symphonic orchestra 00:00:00
  • Concerto op. 33, 1986
    violin and piano 00:00:00
  • Concerto op. 77, 2004
    trumpet and orchestra 00:00:00
  • De profundis op. 62, 2000
    organ 00:12:00
  • De profundis op. 57, 2000
    violin 00:12:00
  • Drie bewegingen voor klarinettenkwartet op. 2, 1962
    4 clarinets 00:04:40
  • Drie kleine composities voor Marc Sleen op. 59, 1995
    2 violins and cello 00:00:00
  • Elegie voor Jan op. 27, 1976
    chamber orchestra 00:07:26
  • Eleutheria op. 44, 1989
    violin, clarinet, cello and piano 00:16:30
  • Five portraits op. 6, 1965
    clarinet 00:00:00
  • Five preludes for a little boy op. 29, 1982
    piano 00:10:57
  • Funeral music for Ptah IV op. 25, 1974
    violin, cello and piano 00:10:06
  • Horizon 250 op. 46, 1990
    violin and piano 00:15:09
  • I remember Georges op. 41, 1988
    clarinet 00:00:00
  • Improvisaties op. 5, 1963
    2 trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba 00:00:00
  • Kleine treurmuziek voor Che op. 22/b, 1974
    violin and piano 00:02:36
  • Kleine treurmuziek voor Che op. 22, 1974
    piano 00:02:36
  • Kleine treurmuziek voor Che op. 22, 1974
    flute and piano 00:02:36
  • Koan I op. 16, 1971
    4 clarinets 00:10:00
  • Koan II op. 24, 1975
    horn in F and piano 00:00:00
  • Koan II op. 24, 1975
    trumpet or trombone or tuba and piano 00:00:00
  • Lia's koan (III) op. 55, 1992
    clarinet, cello and piano 00:15:00
  • Lullaby for Nathalie op. 31, 1984
    violin and piano 00:03:12
  • Lullaby for Nathalie op. 31, 1984
    violin and string orchestra 00:03:12
  • Méditation pour le Carême op. 64, 2001
    Soprano, 2 baroque violins, 1 baroque viola, 1 baroque cello 00:07:00
  • Memories of childhood op. 39, 1988
    solo trumpet and 4 groups with 4 trumpets 00:00:00
  • Music for Andriane op. 38, 1988
    cello and piano 00:13:00
  • Music for Halloween op. 40, 1988
    orchestra 00:00:00
  • Music for one dancer op. 21, 1973
    flute 00:09:25
  • Music for René (R. G. I. P.) op. 35, 1987
    violin and piano 00:09:36
  • Music for Thanksgiving op. 36, 1987
    clarinet in B flat and piano 00:00:00
  • Onyx op. 52, 1991
    band 00:00:00
  • Portrait of Anne de Beauregard op. 37, 1987
    violin and cello 00:00:00
  • Prélude VI op. 34, 1986
    piano 00:04:12
  • Prelude 12 op. 66, 2003
    piano 00:02:30
  • Prelude 13 op. 67, 2003
    piano 00:02:40
  • Prelude 14 op. 68, 2003
    piano 00:02:00
  • Prelude 15 op. 69, 2003
    piano 00:02:35
  • Prelude 16 op. 70, 2003
    piano 00:02:00
  • Prelude 17 op. 71, 2003
    piano 00:02:45
  • Preludes 12-13-14-15-16-17, 2003
    piano 00:14:30
  • Preludes 7-8-9-10-11 op. 65, 2003
    piano 00:07:00
  • Shouts op. 14, 1971
    clarinet 00:06:20
  • Sinfonietta op. 42, 1988
    chamber orchestra 00:12:00
  • So what brother op. 28, 1981
    alto saxophone 00:00:00
  • Song for Béatrice op. 54, 1993
    viola or cello and piano 00:07:00
  • Song for Béatrice op. 54, 1993
    viola and piano 00:07:00
  • Song for Béatrice op. 54 bis, 1993
    cello and piano 00:07:00
  • Song for Miles op. 60, 1996
    trombone and piano 00:00:00
  • Song for Miles, 1996
    bass tuba and piano 00:00:00
  • Song for Miles op. 60, 1996
    trumpet Bb and piano 00:00:00
  • String quartet 2 op. 51, 1991
    2 violins, viola and cello 00:18:11
  • Suite for piano solo op. 72-76, 2003
    piano 00:15:15
  • Suite in vier bewegingen op. 30, 1983
    violin 00:12:31
  • Suite voor blazerskwintet op. 4, 1962
    flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon 00:05:20
  • Symphony op. 53, 1991
    orchestra 00:25:00
  • Symphony n°2 op. 58, 1994
    orchestra 00:00:00
  • Three easy pieces op. 61, 2000
    alto sax, violin and cello 00:00:00
  • Three movements for October op. 43, 1989
    oboe and piano 00:00:00
  • Three movements for October op. 43/bis, 1989
    flute and piano 00:00:00
  • Three songs for children op. 49, 1990
    violin and piano 00:04:32
  • Trio op. 1, 1962
    oboe, clarinet, bassoon 00:00:00
  • Twee liederen op. 3, 1962
    3 women's voices 00:01:55
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