Contemporary Music in Flanders Flemish Symphonic Music since 1950 historical overview, discussion of selected works and inventory

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2 Contemporary Music in Flanders Flemish Symphonic Music since 1950 historical overview, discussion of selected works and inventory Edited by Mark Delaere and Joris Compeers

3 CONTENT PREFACE 5 MATRIX 9 A. HISTORICAL OVERVIEW Some trends in symphonic music in Flanders since by Steven Vande Moortele 2006 MATRIX New Music Documentation Centre (Leuven, Belgium) - edition: Mark Delaere, Joris Compeers, Veronique Verspeurt production: Joris Compeers translation: Stratton Bull lay-out: Compagnie Maandacht print: Acco (Leuven, Belgium) The compilation cd is an initiative of the Flanders Music Centre Music selection by Peter Swinnen Produced and mastered by Michel Hoedemakers, Luc Brewaeys & VRT p & c FMC 2006/03 With the support of: Flanders Music Centre (Muziekcentrum Vlaanderen) - D/2006/10.184/1 ISBN X B. DISCUSSION OF SELECTED WORKS BAEYENS AUGUST L.: Symphony No. 4 ( ) 21 by Kristof Boucquet BREWAEYS LUC: Symphony No. 8 (2004) 23 by Mark Delaere BUCKINX BOUDEWIJN: Mooi Weer (2001) 25 by Jan Christiaens HENDERICKX WIM: Le Visioni di Paura (1990) 27 by Maarten Beirens KERSTERS WILLEM: Symphony No. 2 (1963) 29 by Jochem Valkenburg POOT MARCEL: Symphony No. 6 (1978) 33 by Dirk Moelants VAN LANDEGHEM JAN: Concerto per pianoforte ed orchestra ( ) 36 by Maarten Quanten C. INVENTORY Alphabetical Inventory of Flemish Symphonic Music since Chronological Inventory of Flemish Symphonic Music since LIST OF PUBLISHERS AND RECORD COMPANIES 125 TRACK LIST CD 128 3

4 PREFACE This is the third volume in a series documenting contemporary music since 1950 from Flanders. The first volume on Flemish string quartets was published in 2004, the second on piano music in Future volumes will cover ensemble music, vocal music and electronic music. With this series, MATRIX is meeting the criteria of its core activity: the documentation of contemporary music in general and Flemish contemporary music in particular (for more on MATRIX, go to To this end, MATRIX has built up an extensive collection of scores, CDs, books and periodicals. This collection is the starting point for educational activities such as, for instance, courses on new music, concert introductions or workshops for music teachers and conductors. The collection also forms the basis for this publication, which aims to make an inventory of all symphonic music written in Flanders since The inventory is preceded by a major essay in which the most important stylistic characteristics of the Flemish symphonic repertoire since 1950 are considered. This is followed by short articles on several representative works. We should like to emphasise the fact that the selection of works for discussion is not based on a judgement of their merits. The chosen orchestral works are naturally compositions of high artistic quality, but this may be said of many other Flemish symphonic works. The aim of the discussions of the works is rather to illustrate the stylistic diversity of this repertoire and to allow composers from different generations to be considered. As an additional criterion, no works from composers presented in the previous volumes on string quartets and piano music have been selected for the short articles. The short articles on symphonies by Boudewijn Buckinx and Luc Brewaeys are two exceptions to this additional criterion. This is not only motivated by the central position of the symphonic genre in both composers oeuvre, but also by the fact that their works represent opposite tendencies at the outer extremes of Flemish symphonic music that should not be lacking in a publication such as this one. 5

5 For budgetary reasons, a decision has been made not to provide a Dutch version of this text. Flemings are world citizens with a perfect understanding of English. The same cannot be said of all world citizens grasp of Dutch. An English version thus offers a much wider international reach. We are very grateful to the composers for their additions and corrections to the inventory of works. Steven Vande Moortele provided us with a wonderful essay, and we also thank the authors of the short discussions of the works for taking part on a voluntary basis. A word of thanks goes out to the Flanders Music Centre (Muziekcentrum Vlaanderen) for financing the translation of the texts; and for the production of a CD of fragments from representative symphonic works. Documentation in word and sound is, after all, that much stronger. In order to promote Flemish contemporary music, the book and CD will be distributed free of charge to orchestras, concert organisers, music festivals and other interested parties both in Flanders and abroad. MARK DELAERE JORIS COMPEERS 7

6 MATRIX MATRIX: new music documentation centre Over a few short years, MATRIX, with its library of 20,000 scores, has grown to become an important collection of music composed since Music from Flanders forms the core of this collection but placing this Flemish repertoire in an international context is equally important. Thus a search for Boulez Structures in the online catalogue easily leads to a survey of all the works written in Flanders and elsewhere for the same scoring (two pianos). The collection is the point of departure for two other areas of activity: musical heritage and educational activities. For the former MATRIX has undertaken a collaboration with the Flemish musical heritage centre Resonant and with ComAV. Conscious of the fact that today s composition can be tomorrow s threatened heritage, a pro-active heritage policy has been adopted, involving both conservation and drawing up an inventory. The Flanders Music Centre, an organization with a governmental mandate to promote all Flemish music (from jazz, pop and classical to folk music), draws on the resources of MATRIX for its documentation of contemporary classical Flemish music. In 2004, MATRIX initiated its Contemporary Music in Flanders publication series, in which Flemish music since 1950 is being exhaustively inventoried by genre. The (bilingual) website comprises some 100 information files on contemporary Flemish composers providing extensive analyses of a selection of their works. The educational activities are geared to music-school teachers, children, young people, band and choir conductors and the wider audience, all of whom are offered a chance to increase their awareness of contemporary (Flemish) music through workshops, productions, lectures and concert introductions. The establishing of MATRIX vzw, a non-profit organisation, has been made possible by Cera, an organisation that supports social and cultural projects in their start-up phase. MATRIX also enjoys the support of K.U.Leuven, the City of Leuven, and the Province of Flemish Brabant. Address Minderbroedersstraat 48, B-3000 Leuven Tel.: +32 (0) Fax.: +32 (0)

7 SOME TRENDS IN SYMPHONIC MUSIC IN FLANDERS SINCE 1950 A. Historical Overview In taking on symphonic music, a composer may feel more seriously limited by a number of external factors peculiar to that medium than he or she would in composing other kinds of instrumental music. Given the large apparatus it requires, the performance of symphonic music obviously has considerable financial implications, so that in actual practice, it is most often composed on commission. And since a symphonic composition generally has some kind of representational function for the commissioner, its composer is not merely accountable for the intrinsic quality of the music but also for responsibly spending large amounts of other people s money. Symphonic music is also heavily loaded with the burden of tradition, more than, for instance, piano music, ensemble music or even music for string quartet. While the element of tradition is clearly very important for the latter genre as well, the generic tradition of the string quartet is essentially a tradition of innovation and of writing for a limited circle of connoisseurs. Symphonic music, by contrast, operates within a tradition of monumentality, and is expected to address a large and relatively heterogeneous audience. Somewhat surprisingly, these limitations have not prevented Flemish composers since 1950 from showing a remarkable interest in writing for symphonic orchestra. The list at the end of this volume mentions more than 800 titles 1. Admittedly, the definition of what is considered to be symphonic music is taken rather broadly. Apart from symphonic music in the strict sense works scored for full symphonic orchestra, as well as compositions for orchestra with chorus and/or vocal or instrumental soloists, and explicitly called symphony in the title or the subtitle it also includes concertante works in which one or several instrumental soloists are accompanied by a symphonic orchestra, and music for one or several vocal soloists (singers or speakers) with orchestra. Not included are works for staged music-theatre, choral music with orchestra (with the exception of choral symphonies) and music for chamber, string or wind orchestra. Quantitative evolutions Figure 1 shows in percentages the share of purely symphonic compositions, concertante compositions, and compositions with vocal soloists in the total number of symphonic compositions per decade. The purely symphonic works are clearly in the majority, and apart from a temporary decline in the 1990s, their share shows a steady increase. The share of compositions for vocal soloist with orchestral accompaniment decreases up to and including the 1980s with a rather dramatic decline between the 1970s and 1980s. From the 1990s onwards, it seems to recover again. 1 It goes without saying that this list cannot guarantee absolute comprehensiveness. As a consequence, the quantitative analysis in the following paragraphs is less concerned with absolute numbers than with broad proportions and general evolutions

8 works with vocal soloists concertante compositions symphonic works The same pattern reveals itself even more clearly in figure 3. This graph disregards year-to-year differences, showing the average number of symphonic works per year for each group of five years from 1950 through The average number of new compositions gradually decreases from twenty-four in the early 1950s to a low-point of a mere eight in the first half of the 1980s. In the second half of the 1980s, the average suddenly doubles to sixteen, and in the subsequent five-year periods it remains at a relatively constant level figure It is more interesting to examine the general quantitative evolutions in the production of symphonic music in Flanders since Figure 2 shows the number of newly composed symphonic works per year. Apart from the often important year-to-year differences, which single out some years as considerably richer in new symphonic repertoire than others, the graph clearly shows that from the 1950s through the early 1980s the overall tendency is a decreasing number of new symphonic works per year. From the mid-1980s, the general tendency is an increase figure figure 2 This tendency is mirrored in the production of compositions that explicitly bear the generic designation of symphony (or sinfonietta ) in their title or subtitle. In the 1950s 29 new symphonies were composed some 14% of the total production of symphonic music in the 1960s 27 (almost 19%), 14 in the 1970s (14%), 17 in the 1980s (14%), 30 in the 1990s (more than 17%) and 25 since 2000 (almost 17%). The popularity of the symphony as a genre among Flemish composers in the fifties and sixties is striking and, as we shall see, characteristic of the situation of new music in Flanders in those years. Particularly in the 1950s the genre was practiced enthusiastically and with much confidence. It is significant, for instance, that of the twenty-nine new symphonies written in the 1950s, no fewer than nine were symphonic debuts: Jan Decadt ( ), Peter Welffens ( ), Albert Delvaux ( 1913), Frédéric Devreese ( 1929), Jef Maes ( ), Norbert Rosseau ( ), Willem Kersters ( ), David Van de Woestijne ( ) and Renaat Veremans ( ) all wrote their first symphonies during this decade. For seven of them, the first experience with this prestigious genre was apparently sufficiently rewarding to encourage them to write at least one more symphony only Decadt and Devreese stopped at one. Several of these debutants, moreover, are relatively young: Welffens, Devreese and Kersters were still in their twenties when they composed their first symphony

9 In the 1960s the symphony starts to lose some of its topicality. Although the share of symphonies in the total production increases, the genre is mainly practiced by older composers. The decade witnesses only five symphonic debuts: Raoul De Smet ( 1936), Boudewijn Buckinx ( 1945), Nini Bulterijs ( ), Lucien Goethals ( 1931) and Renier Van der Velden ( ). Moreover, Goethals s Sinfonía en gris mayor for two orchestral groups and two tapes one of the rare examples of avant-garde symphonic music in Flanders in those days has nothing to do with the traditional notion of a symphony, while Buckinx s Symphonies 1 and 2 are juvenile works that are completely unrelated to his later experimental and postmodern music. The crisis of the symphony becomes more open in the 1970s, with only fourteen new symphonies. Four composers write their first symphony Godfried-Willem Raes ( 1952), Ludo Hulshagen ( 1951), Marcel De Jonghe ( 1943) and Frits Celis ( 1929) although only the latter would continue to write symphonies. Incidentally, all of these symphonic debuts date from the final three years of the decade, and somewhat ironically, Raes s anti-symphony entitled The Last Symphony is the first of them. After this modest revival in the late 1970s, the crisis reaches a low-point in the first half of the 1980s. From 1980 to 1985 only three new symphonies appear, and none of them is a debut. The tide turns in Led by Luc Brewaeys ( 1959), six composers write their first symphony, the others being Carl Verbraeken ( 1950), Frank Nuyts ( 1957), Jan Van der Roost ( 1956), Luc Van Hove ( 1957), August Verbesselt ( 1919) and Marc Verhaegen ( 1943). Apart from Verbesselt, these are young composers, and Brewaeys, Nuyts and Van Hove would evolve into the core of what might be called a new symphonic generation in the 1990s and beyond. The definitive revival of the symphony in Flanders has indeed been confirmed by the evolutions since Thirty-one new symphonies were composed in the 1990s, and since have already been added. Admittedly, a considerable number of these are accounted for by the ten Unfinished Symphonies by Buckinx; nonetheless, the resurgence is undeniable, especially when one considers the number of debuts. From 1990, composers of such diverse aesthetic convictions as Piet Swerts ( 1960), Kurt Bikkembergs ( 1963), Elias Gistelinck ( 1935), Dirk Brossé ( 1960), Janpieter Biesemans ( 1939), Lucien Posman ( 1952), Rafaël D Haene ( 1943), Martin Valcke ( 1963), Peter Swinnen ( 1965), Jean-Luc Bertel ( 1955), Patrick De Clerck ( 1958), Ann Kuppens ( 1964), Jean-Pierre Waelbroeck ( 1954) and Jeroen D hoe ( 1968) all started to write symphonies, or at least to call compositions symphonies. Interestingly, the striking popularity of the term symphony as a genre-designation used by late 20th- and early 21st-century composers in Flanders is inversely proportional to the consensus on how that genre might be defined. In seeking an explanation for these evolutions, one might of course refer to a number of music-historical changes (see below: Stylistic tendencies). Given the importance of commissions for symphonic works, however, their production is at least equally dependent on external factors. With its policy of devoting twenty percent of its program to Belgian music, the main commissioner of Flemish symphonic music in the 1950s was the Belgian Radio (the so-called N.I.R. I.N.R.), whose Groot Symfonie Orkest and its principal conductor Franz André gave the first performance of many new symphonic compositions by Flemish composers 2. The combined factors of the split of the unitary radio into a Flemish and a Walloon section, the rise of popular music channels, the success of television and the availability of high-quality recordings resulted in a rapid decrease in the number of commissions from the late 1960s onwards. Only from the second half of the 1980s was an alternative for this policy offered, notably by professional symphonic orchestras such as the Flemish Radio Orchestra and the Royal Flanders Philharmonic, each of which has regularly commissioned new works by Flemish composers. Since the second half of the 1980s, these and similar policies have been supported by an elaborate system of grants from the Flemish Government. Stylistic tendencies As outlined above, symphonic music is not the ideal place for compositional experiments. It hardly comes as a surprise, then, that up to the early 1980s, symphonic music in Flanders was dominated by two rather untimely tendencies. The symphonic works of the elder generation of composers active in the second half of the 20th century most of them born in the 19th remain essentially late-romantic or Impressionistic. For these composers, writing for symphonic orchestra was self-evident, and although individual differences are considerable from the sovereign technical refinement of Arthur Meulemans ( ) and the unacademic stylistic versatility of Robert Herberigs ( ) to the more plainly Romantic style of Jef Maes and Jef Van Hoof ( ) and the blunt populism of Renaat Veremans all of them continued to write in a relatively unbroken late-19th or early-20th-century idiom. In spite of the prestige some of these composers acquired, their historical significance for the development of symphonic music in Flanders in the second half of the 20th century is limited, especially as the Romantic and Impressionistic tendencies gradually died out with them. The real lingua franca of Flemish composers of symphonic music between 1950 and 1985 can best be described as a moderate pre-war modernism a style that, although more up-to-date than that of the elder generation, still had known its international heyday one or several generations before. This lingua franca usually contained elements referring to Stravinsky, Bartók, Hindemith and Neo- Classicism, with more rarely some atonality, as well as prudent attempts at twelve-tone techniques. In the first half of the 20th century, a group of pioneering composers born around 1900, including August L. Baeyens ( ), Karel Albert ( ), Jef Van Durme ( ) and also Marcel Poot ( ) had introduced these novel tendencies in Flanders. After the Second World War, they largely kept to the same track. 2 See, for a detailed discussion of the orchestras, the classical music policies and the music library of the Belgian Radio up to 1960: Mark Delaere, Pieter Mannaerts, Kristin van den Buys, and Veronique Verspeurt, Het geheugen van de geluidsfabriek. De Vlaamse symfonische muziek in de voormalige muziekbibliotheek van de openbare omroep, Leuven,

10 Having become part of the musical establishment during the 1950s and 1960s, however, these former enfants terribles clearly tended to take the edges off their style. As a result, the emphasis in their works shifts from modernism to moderation. It comes as no surprise, then, that after 1950, several of them practice the large symphonic genres with more confidence than they had done in the first half of the 20th century. Baeyens, for instance, wrote five of his eight symphonies after 1950, Van Durme four of six, and Poot even five of seven. At least equally important to the landscape of symphonic music in Flanders in the third quarter of the 20th century was a generation of composers born in the 1920s. Although born at about the same time as the leading figures of the international post-war avant-garde, they still decided, as budding composers shortly after the Second World War, to restrict themselves to the use of technical and expressive means already available roughly about the time of their birth. The most prolific symphonists of this generation are Victor Legley ( ), Peter Cabus ( ), and Willem Kersters. A typical example of their work is Cabus s Third Symphony from Its first two movements, a Bartókian Presto ostinato and a neo-classical Theme with Variations, have a strong bitonal flavor. Its equally neo-classical finale, by contrast, is in a barely concealed D major, with clear stylistic reminiscences of Stravinsky s Symphony in C. In the course of the 1980s, a new crop of composers, many of them born after the Second World War, took the lead. Their arrival on the musical scene initiated a shift in the direction of two new stylistic tendencies, each of which is, nonetheless, related to one of the aforementioned tendencies. A first group of composers adopted an emphatically eclectic attitude. From moderate pre-war modernism to a generalised eclecticism is a small step, of course. The liberty of drawing on a very heterogeneous arsenal of styles, techniques, and vocabularies within one and the same composition has even been called an essential characteristic of Flemish music since Still, a number of composers apply this liberty in a more systematic way than others. Their compositional projects aim at a reconciliation of the tradition of Western art music with a limited number of specific elements that originate outside this tradition. Elias Gistelinck ( 1935) and Marc Matthys ( 1956) both incorporate elements from jazz into their symphonic music. Gistelinck, whose early work Ndessé ou blues for narrator, jazz trio, jazz orchestra and symphonic orchestra (1969) represents one of the first serious attempts in Flanders to integrate jazz and symphonic music, is the more edgy personality of the two. His later music often tends toward a kind of new simplicity, and the relentless repetition of lamenting melodies over a simple obstinate accompaniment that pervades his First Symphony (1991) is seldom comforting. Matthys, by contrast, generally adopts a more agreeable idiom of light, accessible jazz in a symphonic jacket, as is the case in his Contrasts for flute, vibraphone, jazz trio and orchestra (1992). A broader eclecticist is the commercially very successful Dirk Brossé ( 1960). The basis of his symphonic style is the film-music adaptation of a 19th-century Romantic idiom transplanted back to symphonic music. This is most readily apparent in the suite from the score he wrote for the film Daens (1995) as well as from his Flanders International Film Festival Overture written that same year. Elsewhere, as in his symphonies Artesia and the Birth of Music (1995 and 1997), this cinematic style is spiced with heterogeneous elements from jazz, light and ethnic music, and occasionally also some novel techniques from contemporary art music. An altogether different personality is Wim Henderickx ( 1962). His work is strongly influenced by non-western cultures and musical traditions, especially from South- Asia and Africa. Henderickx deals with these influences in a very subtle way, integrating them into his Western idiom to such an extent that they are often unrecognisable as foreign influences apart, that is, from the often cheerfully excessive use of exotic percussion instruments. Henderickx s best symphonic compositions are his three Ragas: Raga I for percussion and orchestra (1996) a transcription of an original composition for percussion and two pianos Raga II for orchestra (1995) and Raga III for viola and orchestra (1995). All three Ragas display a similar overall formal organisation: a slow first section, a fast second section, and a slow conclusion. As their titles suggest, they incorporate elements from classical Indian music, which manifest themselves not only in the use of Indian modes (ragas) for the pitch organisation and recurring patterns (talas) for the rhythmic organisation, but also on a more spiritual level. In spite of the use of heterogeneous materials, communication by means of a coherent musical grammar remains a central concern of these composers, especially in their symphonic music. In many cases, the use of elements from outside contemporary Western art music is intended to enable or improve that communication in the first place. This is not the case with a group of composers that have been termed postmodernists, the most prominent among which is Boudewijn Buckinx. Alienating musical clichés mainly from the 19th-century tradition, Buckinx deliberately adopts a stylistic and grammatical inconsistency in order to question the self-evident and create a sense of unease. This becomes most readily apparent from his series of ten Onvoltooide Symfonieën (Unfinished symphonies) from 0 to 9, not all of them for symphonic orchestra, some with instrumental soloists, and the ninth unavoidably a choral symphony. These unfinished symphonies are really anti-symphonies, manifestly expressing a disbelief in the potential of the symphonic genre to communicate the grand ideas it has often been associated with. More important to the revival of symphonic music in Flanders from the second half of the 1980s onwards are a number of composers whose works can be described as neo-romantic. The most important exponents of this group are Luc Van Hove ( 1957), Piet Swerts ( 1960), and Jeroen D hoe ( 1968), as well as the slightly older Rafaël D haene ( 1943). For each of these composers, the use of an orchestra is essential, and it comes as no surprise that they handle it with impressive sovereignty. As with many of their contemporaries, their work is eclectic, drawing freely on the expressive and technical arsenal of almost two centuries of music history

11 Yet in the work of these neo-romanticists, eclecticism serves a higher purpose: it is an attempt to restore certain aspects of the 19th-century symphonic tradition that have disappeared in the course of the development of 20th-century Western art music. As a consequence, their aesthetic position is even further removed from postmodernism than that of their colleagues discussed in the previous paragraphs. Without exception, they strive for a synthesis, a unity in the best 19th-century tradition. In this respect, it is somewhat ironic that many of these composers refer to Gustav Mahler the composer in whose work the dream of unity definitively shatters into pieces as their example. In spite of the general similarities between D haene, Van Hove, Swerts and D hoe, there are a number of important differences as well. A first distinction is material. Van Hove and D hoe draw on a multitude of compositional techniques from the middle of the 19th century until today. Often, they show a clear predilection for specific techniques from the second half of the 20th century. D haene, by contrast, usually restricts his stylistic and technical arsenal, and seldom writes passages one could not also imagine to have been written by, say, Alban Berg, of whose Altenberglieder D haene s Sonette an Orpheus (1987) are particularly reminiscent. Apart from this and this is a second distinction D haene also seems to be primarily interested in the expressive potential of the 19th-century tradition. The same is true of Swerts, as becomes evident from the latter s very Mahlerian second symphony Morgenrot (2000). Although the expressive aspect obviously plays a role in Van Hove s and D hoe s works as well, their main interest is in the recuperation of the constructive aspects of the 19th-century tradition, which should allow the composition of large-scale forms. Van Hove often deliberately adopts a 19th-century rhetoric that enables every fragment of the composition to define its own formal function. Transitions, expansions, conclusions and recapitulations are always recognisable as such and find their place in larger formal constructions, such as the sonata-form first movement of the Second Symphony (1997). In its entirety, this symphony is a remarkably organic composition, all pitch material being derived from the fortissimo chord heard at its very beginning. D hoe s mature style fully emerges in his Festival Anthem from The alternation of toccata-like fragments and lyrical melodies, based on the permutation of short motives; the partially undetermined sonic fields and the brilliant instrumentation; the strongly directed climaxes and the superposition of heterogeneous material in a manner reminiscent of Charles Ives; and the ambitious yet clear large-scale form these are the hallmarks of his immediately recognisable and obviously Americaninspired orchestral language. Generally speaking, Flemish composers of the more radical kinds of new music serialism, postserialism, spectralism, new complexity and experimental music have maintained a rather problematic relationship with symphonic music. They seldom feel at ease with the representational character of the symphonic orchestra or with its seemingly unavoidable associations to the 19th-century tradition. It is hardly surprising, then, that these composers flourished far more in the alternative circuit of more flexible specialised ensembles. Admittedly, the three main exponents of serialism and postserialism in Flanders Karel Goeyvaerts ( ), Lucien Goethals and Claude Coppens ( 1936) all regularly wrote for symphonic orchestra, and their symphonic works echo every recent international tendency: generalised serialism, emancipation of the physical space, electronic music (especially in Goethals s works), aleatory, repetitive and neotonal elements. Particularly Goeyvaerts the icon of new music in Flanders wrote for orchestra throughout his career, and an overview of his symphonic output reads as a concise history of Western art music since 1950: the pre-serial (Second) Violin Concerto from 1950 with its fateful belated premiere at the 1952 Darmstadt Ferienkurse and the group serialism of Diafonie (1957); the 1962 Zomerspelen (Summer games) for three orchestral groups and the aleatory Al naar Gelang (Depending on) for five orchestral groups from ; the repetitive and additive Litanie III (1980) and the neotonal Opbouw (Build-up, 1991), the orchestral satellite work to his magnum opus Aquarius. It is telling, however, that none of these symphonic works ranks among Goeyvaerts s best, as becomes clear when Diafonie is compared to Nummer 2 for thirteen instruments, Litanie III to the far more intense Litanie I for piano, and Opbouw to the string quartet De Zeven Zegels (The seven seals). A certain mistrust of the symphonic orchestra is equally apparent from the work lists of most younger radical composers. Many of them have never written for the symphonic orchestra at all, and otherwise so audacious personalities such as Serge Verstockt ( 1957) and Stephan Van Eycken ( 1975) only exceptionally ventured into writing a symphonic work. In fact, each of them completed only one symphonic composition, with an attempt by Van Eycken to write a second one in 2004 significantly ending in failure. Of the experimental group around Godfried-Willem Raes, the young Sebastian Bradt ( 1979) is the only one who regularly and successfully yields to the seductions of the orchestral medium. The single radical composer in Flanders whose boldness does not recoil before the orchestra is Luc Brewaeys ( 1959). On the contrary: Brewaeys loves the orchestra and its countless sonic possibilities. His First Symphony..., e poi c era... (1985) formed the upbeat to the revival of Flemish symphonic music, and in the otherwise predominantly tame musical landscape of the early 1980s in Flanders, the international orientation of his firstling must have startled many. It is a completely athematic composition that occupies an intermediary position between French spectralism and the musique concrete instrumentale of Helmut Lachenmann. The alternation of sections subtly exploring and manipulating the harmonic spectrum and more exuberant fierce passages characteristic of this symphony would remain a constant in Brewaeys s symphonic music. If anything, the fact that a composer like Brewaeys decided to continue his First Symphony with an impressive symphonic series as of early 2006, he is working on a Ninth forms the most eloquent proof that symphonic music in Flanders is alive, and that it has a future. [STEVEN VANDE MOORTELE] 18 19

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