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BELLE VAN ZUYLEN

Summary | Biography | Discography | Photos | Audio/Video

Belle van Zuylen

Period

20-10-1740 - 27-12-1805

Genre

classical, componist, klavecimbel, piano

Online

Website

Belle van Zuylen

“I make verses for my notes and notes for the poetry of others,” Belle van Zuylen wrote her brother Vincent in 1790. Her music was described by Pierre H. Dubois as “rebellious and amiable”, or typical of the Sturm und Drang: vehement and sensitive, between the Enlightenment and Romanticism.
Full biography

Instruments

componist, klavecimbel, piano

Biography Belle van Zuylen

“I make verses for my notes and notes for the poetry of others,” Belle van Zuylen wrote her brother Vincent in 1790. Her music was described by Pierre H. Dubois as “rebellious and amiable”, or typical of the Sturm und Drang: vehement and sensitive, between the Enlightenment and Romanticism.

1740

Belle van Zuylen – her actual name is Isabella Agneta Elisabeth van Tuyll van Serooskerken – is born on October 20 at Zuylen Castle near Utrecht. She is the eldest child in a noble family.

1763

Van Zuylen anonymously publishes the story 'Le Noble', in which she takes aim at the nobility. Because her authorship is generally known, her parents remove the edition from circulation. Wiser for the experience, Van Zuylen waits until she is married to publish again.

1764

The death of Jean-Philippe Rameau, on September 12, ends her plans of studying with him.

1766

Her portrait is painted by Maurice-Quentin de La Tour (it can be seen in the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva).

1770 - 1774

Van Zuylen acquires a pianoforte, an instrument invented around 1700 by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Florence. After various marriage proposals, she weds Charles-Emmanuel de Charrière, a Swiss minor nobleman and former home tutor of her brothers. They live in the country estate Le Pontet in the area of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. De La Tour paints a second portrait of her (now hanging in the Musée Antoine Lécuyer in Saint-Quentin) and Jean-Antoine Houdon makes a bust (Bibliothèque Publique et Universitaire, Neuchâtel). The Charrières spend the summer at Zuylen Castle.

1786

In a letter to her brother Vincent van Tuyll van Serooskerken (quoted in Joke Hermsen's 2008 novel 'De liefde dus'), Van Zuylen writes of her dedication to music. “For six, eight, or ten hours every day,” she sits at the harpsichord. “It is no longer a diversion, but an irrepressible passion. I compose each day a minuet, allegro, or andante. I am sitting in bed as I write you, but as soon as I get up I will play and write down a melody, that I have already sung a dozen times before notating it, inspired by a few words: Perdone Amate Nice. That comes from a cantata by Metastasio, of which I know only the meaning, the general theme, and this (...). I have enlisted the aid of a young German composer [Johann Chr. Vogel]. Nine of my, or our, sonatas for harpsichord have been engraved; another six are being prepared. There is also more to be engraved, and I have just written violin trios. I had help and correction in doing it, and the cello parts are not from my hand; but through composing, asking, listening, judging and choosing, I have learned a great deal about harmony. Each day I progress, and I have less need of help. My teacher is amazed by the fertility of my imagination and has nearly as much enjoyment with it as I do myself.”

1789

Her 'Airs et Romances' avec accompagnement de clavecin are published in Paris. These are “clavier lieder”, a favorite genre of the time (also with Joseph Haydn): short, folk-like melodies supported by a bass.

1790

Isabelle de Charrière, as Van Zuylen is now known, writes an opera libretto: 'Polyphème ou Le cyclope'. The Italian composer Niccolò Antonio Zingarelli, the teacher of Vincenzo Bellini, stays for three months at Le Pontet. Under his direction, and not shying away from heated discussions, she works on the music for 'Polyphème', 'Les femmes' and 'L'Olympiade'.

1792

She completes the opera 'Zadig' on a text after Voltaire. In September, she becomes seriously ill.

1805

Isabelle de Charrière dies the night of December 26 to 27 at Le Pontet. Several days later she is buried in Colombier. Her writings, bequeathed to her friemd Henriette l'Hardy, come after l'Hardy's death into the possession of l'Hardy's son Eusèbe Gaullieur. Thanks to Gaullieur, it is possible to later reconstruct the work of Isabelle de Charrière / Belle van Zuylen. Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve publishes two extensive studies of her life and work.

Discography Belle van Zuylen

In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.

Photos Belle van Zuylen

Audio/Video Belle van Zuylen

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