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Flor Peeters And Belgian Music


MusingMuso
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Why do we so seldom hear the music of Flor Peeters these days, which if not the greatest of all organ-music, is wonderfully lyrical and often very atmospheric?

 

A whole recital could consist of Belgian music, which is quite neglected these days.

 

There's Lemmens of course, and Jongen; both rather good at what they did.

 

Are there other composers for the organ associated with Belgium?

 

(One feels sure that the name of Cesar Franck is going to surface here somewhere!)

 

MM

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There are at least a dozen, next to Jongen and Peeters, Maurice Guillaume

(he was titular of the Châtelet church Delmotte organ) being one

of the most interesting.

Their inspiration was tipically quite multinational, some following

France, others rather Germany, etc.

César Franck originated from Gemmenich, a border village whose

language is an absolutely incredible Mixture of Maas-Frankisch,

Ripuarisch-middle-german frankisch, german, an bits of waloon.

(This language is still well alive, as most of the ancient dialects

still are in Belgium).

 

Pierre

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Why do we so seldom hear the music of Flor Peeters these days, which if not the greatest of all organ-music, is wonderfully lyrical and often very atmospheric?

The 10 Christmas chorale preludes (Op 39) that finish with the variations on King Jesus Has A Garden are favourites of mine. They are all dedicated to European titulaires. I would agree with the "lyrical" and "atmospheric" and would add "harmonically spicy and deft". As these are the only Peeters in my collection I would welcome suggestions of other pieces that could be used during and after services.

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Guest Cynic
Why do we so seldom hear the music of Flor Peeters these days, which if not the greatest of all organ-music, is wonderfully lyrical and often very atmospheric?

 

A whole recital could consist of Belgian music, which is quite neglected these days.

 

There's Lemmens of course, and Jongen; both rather good at what they did.

 

Are there other composers for the organ associated with Belgium?

 

(One feels sure that the name of Cesar Franck is going to surface here somewhere!)

 

MM

 

I agree about Flor Peeters, who produced mostly very good stuff. I always though the Concert Piece to be the weakest of his offerings - a case of better inspiration coming to him from church melodies, maybe? Toccata, Fugue and Hymn 'Ave Maris Stella' is a great piece by any criterion.

 

You ask for others: How about Paul de Maleingreau, who was born in France but trained and worked in Belgium? - I like a lot of his compositions. The Symphonies particularly - all very well written and more approachable than most from the period.

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Guest Cynic
I agree about Flor Peeters, who produced mostly very good stuff. I always though the Concert Piece to be the weakest of his offerings - a case of better inspiration coming to him from church melodies, maybe? Toccata, Fugue and Hymn 'Ave Maris Stella' is a great piece by any criterion.

 

You ask for others: How about Paul de Maleingreau, who was born in France but trained and worked in Belgium? - I like a lot of his compositions. The Symphonies particularly - all very well written and more approachable than most from the period.

 

P.S. Guy Weitz probably doesn't really count as a Belgian composer, though he was born and trained there. His works are uniformly excellent.

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Why do we so seldom hear the music of Flor Peeters these days, which if not the greatest of all organ-music, is wonderfully lyrical and often very atmospheric?

 

A whole recital could consist of Belgian music, which is quite neglected these days.

 

There's Lemmens of course, and Jongen; both rather good at what they did.

 

Are there other composers for the organ associated with Belgium?

 

(One feels sure that the name of Cesar Franck is going to surface here somewhere!)

 

MM

 

In addition to Cynic's post of above, see http://www.orgelkunst.be/tijdschrift/tijds...aleingreau.html

 

I don't play any of de Maleingreau's music, but I've heard the Suite Mariale (played by Simon Lindley on Naxos 8.550581), and I like it very much. Some of the quieter moments are reminiscent of Tournemire.

 

Graham

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Guy Weitz is completely unknown in Belgium.

One of the reason for this is the neo-baroque fashion,

which commenced quite early here (already during the 60's).

This fashion reached its summit round 1980; then, to pronounce

the words "Joseph Jongen" had a comparable effect than

"Hope-Jones" here ; a signature for a complete lack of taste...

(The refuge was then the United Kingdom, where the mood

was still post-romantic when I visited organs there).

We are precisely now busy to rediscover our romantic and

late-romantic music, with young players like Jean-Philippe

Merckaert, and others from the best organ school in Belgium today,

the IMEP here in Namur.

This school graduates, each year, young organists whose first

aim is to revive that repertoire, along with Widor, Vierne,

Reger etc.

(A certain H.H. might follow. I may have dropped some sheets of paper

there...)

 

There is a Website dedicated to Flor Peeters here (english version):

 

http://users.pandora.be/pima/indexE.htm

 

Pierre

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I'm a great fan of Peeters - some of his stuff is wonderful. I've had a look at his Lied-Symphonie, which is an engaging piece (and the Toccata, dedicated to Virgil Fox is a BEAR!). I enjoy his Suite Modale and his 3 modal fugues - when he's good he is very good, never is his stuff bad, the less inspired works are still well-crafted

 

de Maleingreau is also sadly neglected - I managed to get my hands on the MS for 11 of his 12 piano sonates, which are finely crafted works. I have an opus list if anyone is interested - he wrote over 100 works for various forces, only about 30-40 were ever published

 

Since we have Pierre here again to enlighten us, I want to hear about some other Belgians - I've been searching for some further Belgian Organ Symphonies while researching my book and have had a bit of a task getting ahold of the scores....

 

- Charles Hens (1898-1967) succeeded de Maleingreau as organ professor in Brussels, he is reported to have written 5 Organ Symphonies - none were published

 

- Arthur Meulemans (1884- 1966) Wrote 2 organ symphonies, a Pièce heröique, Seven Pieces, a Sonata, 2 Concertos for O+O and one for Organ and Brass.

 

- Désiré Paque (1867-1939) wrote quite a few pieces for organ, one Symphonie (and possibly more, but I've not been able to confirm that) They are quite advanced harmonically for the era in which he was writing - he was an early dabbler in atonal concepts.

 

Hermann Roelstraete - I have 2 of his works (an aria and a P+F) - nice modal stuff - I'd like to see the Sonates and other works.

 

~~~

 

I've got more Belgian composers that interest me, but it's late on this side of the pond, and I need my sleep. Pierre, can you shed any light on those I've mentioned above?

 

Best,

 

- G

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I rather like his Paraphrase on Salve Regina; also his Partita on King Jesus Hath a Garden; indeed his chorale preludes in general are very satisfying although I dispute the advertising blurb I once read which claimed that "these could be mistaken at times for Bach". And the Aria is a useful piece as well.

 

Peter

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Another name to add to the list - Edgar Tinel (1854 - 1912). He succeeded Lemmens as Director of the Malines Institute of Church Music in 1882. I only know this at it appears on a CD on the Pro Organo label called Blending Voices - Organ music from Belgium. There's a 20 minute Sonata in g minor (1885) and a short Improvisata (1907), apparently his only two organ pieces. The CD also includes the Peeters Toccata, Fugue et Hymne on Ave Maris Stella, in my view a marvellous piece.

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Agree with Paul that the 'Ave Maris Stella' T/F/C is a quite splendid piece, the fugue being one of the more statisfying ones to play from 19/20th century western europe imo (Certainly more so than MM'Dfavourites by the likes of Dupre, Vierne and Widor)

 

Interesting how his music without a tune as the basis generally has appeared to me to be weak.. including the well known 'aria' which seems to meander around a bit without going anywhere (i'm sure some would say much like howells)

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The Peeters Passacaglia and Fuge used to be played a lot - but I haven't heard it for some time now.

 

About Lemmens - the 5 part prelude in E flat - is easy listening for one and all :) and something to practice your legato on.

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