Diepenbrock, Alphons (Johannes Maria)

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Diepenbrock, Alphons (Johannes Maria)

Diepenbrock, Alphons (Johannes Maria), eminent Dutch composer; b. Amsterdam, Sept. 2, 1862;d. there, April 5, 1921. He learned to play violin and piano in his childhood. In 1880 he entered the Univ. of Amsterdam, where he studied classical philology and received his Ph.D. in 1888. He taught academic subjects at the grammar school at ’s-Hertogenbosch (1888–94), then abandoned his pedagogical activities and devoted himself primarily to music. He studied works of the Flemish School of the Renaissance, and later perused the scores of Berlioz, Wagner, and Debussy. Despite this belated study, he succeeded in developing a rather striking individual style of composition, in which Wagnerian elements curiously intertwine with impressionistic modalities. However, he had difficulty in putting the results into definite shape, and he left more than 100 incomplete MSS at his death. His Catholic upbringing led him to concentrate mainly on the composition of sacred choral music; he wrote no syms., concertos, or instrumental sonatas. A collection of Diepenbrock’s writings, Verzamelde geschriften, ed. by E. Reeser, was publ. in Utrecht (1950). A catalog of his works was issued in Amsterdam in 1962. E. Reeser brought out his Brieven en documenten (Letters and Documents; 2 vols., Amsterdam, 1962–67). He also wrote “Some Melodic Patterns in the Music of Alphons Diepenbrock,” composers’ Voice, 3 (1976/1).


Stabat Mater for Men’s Chorus; Mzssa in die festo for Tenor, Men’s Chorus, and Organ (1890–91); Les Elfes for Soprano, Baritone, Women’s Chorus, and Orch. (1896); Te Deum for Soloists, Double Chorus, and Orch. (1897); 2 Hymnen an die Nacht, after Novalis, 1 each for Soprano and Contralto, with Orch. (1899); Vondel’s vaart naar Agrippine (Vondel’s Journey to Agrippina) for Baritone and Orch. (1902–3); Im grossen Schweigen, after Nietzsche, for Baritone and Orch. (Amsterdam, May 20, 1906); Hymne aan Rembrandt for Soprano, Women’s Chorus, and Orch. (1906); incidental music to Verhagen’s mythical comedy Marsyas of De betooverde bron (Marsyas or The Enchanted Well; 1909–10); Die Nacht, after Holderlin, for Mezzo-soprano and Orch. (1910–11); Lydische Nacht for Baritone and Orch. (1913); incidental music to Aristophanes’ The Birds (1917); incidental music to Goethe’s Faust (1918); incidental music to Sophocles’ Electra (1920); numerous choruses and songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire