Vermeulen, Matthijs

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Vermeulen, Matthijs

Vermeulen, Matthijs, remarkable Dutch composer and music critic; b. Helmond, Feb. 8, 1888; d. Laren, July 26,1967. Principally self-taught, he traveled in 1905 to Amsterdam, where he received musical guidance from Daniel le Lange and Alphons Diepen-brock. In 1907 he began to write music criticism for Dutch and French publications, and continued his journalistic activities until 1956. In 1921 Vermeulen went to France; returned to the Netherlands in 1947, when he became music ed. of De Groene Amsterdammer. He entertained a strong belief in the mystical powers of music; in order to enhance the universality of melodic, rhythmic, and contrapuntal elements, he introduced in his compositions a unifying set of cantus firmi against a diversified network of interdependent melodies of an atonal character; it was not until the last years of his life that his works began to attract serious attention for their originality and purely musical qualities.


ORCH: 7 syms.: No. 1, Symphonia Carminum (1912-14; Arnhem, March 12, 1919; 1stprofessional perf., Amsterdam, May 5, 1964), No. 2, Prelude à la nouvelle journée (1919-20; 1stperf. as an identified work, Amsterdam, July 5, 1956; had won 5thprize at the Queen Elisabeth Composition Competition in Brussels in 1953, and was performed anonymously on Dec. 9), No. 3, Thrène et Péan (1921-22; Amsterdam, May 24,1939), No. 4, Les Victoires (1940-41; Rotterdam, Sept. 30, 1949), No. 5, Les Lendemains Chantants (1941-45; Amsterdam, Oct. 12, 1949), No. 6, Les Minutes heureuses (1956-58; Utrecht, Nov. 25, 1959), and No. 7, Dithyrambes pour les temps à venir (1963-65; Amsterdam, April 2,1967); Passacaille et Cortège (1930; concert fragments from his music for the open-air play The Flying Dutchman); Symphonic Prolog (1930). CHAMBER: 2 cellos sonatas (1918; 1938); String Trio (1924); Violin Sonata (1925); String Quartet (1960-61). VOCAL: Songs.


De twee muzieken (The Two Musics; 2 vols., Leyden, 1918); “Klankbord” (Sound Board) and “De eene grondtoon” (The One Key Note) in De vrije bladen (Amsterdam, 1929 and 1932); Het avontuur van den geest (The Adventure of the Spirit; Amsterdam, 1947); Princiepen der Europese Muziek (Principles of European Music; Amsterdam, 1948); De Muziek, Dat Wonder (Music, A Miracle; The Hague, 1958).


P. Rapoport, Opus Est: Six Composers from Northern Europe (London, 1978).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire