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BERNARD ZWEERS

Summary | Biography | Discography | Photos | Audio/Video

Bernard Zweers

Period

18-05-1854 - 09-12-1924

Genre

classical, componist, romantic

Bernard Zweers

Zweers' music has two distinctive traits: its affinity with Dutch folklore, and a Wagnerian style (especially in his second period). For his songs – most written for his wife and former student, the soprano Dora de Leeuw – he used texts of his contemporaries, including Nicolaas Beets (1814-1903) and Jan ...
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Instruments

componist

Mentioned in the biography of

1887   Willem Andriessen
1887   Willem Landré
1891   Hubert Cuypers
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Biography Bernard Zweers

Zweers' music has two distinctive traits: its affinity with Dutch folklore, and a Wagnerian style (especially in his second period). For his songs – most written for his wife and former student, the soprano Dora de Leeuw – he used texts of his contemporaries, including Nicolaas Beets (1814-1903) and Jan Jacob Lodewijk ten Cate (1809-1889). In order to succeed in an personal Dutch compositional style, Zweers thought it necessary to use texts written in his own language. In practice, most of the texts he used, were chosen from Dutch literary works. The poetry of Jacques Perk (1859-1881), Hélène Swarth (1859-1941), and later Cornelis Boutens (1870-1943) were a valuable resource for him. For the Wijzangen he used Dutch translations of poems by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). Since Zweers' death, only the three symphonies have remained somewhat known; the rest of his music was soon more or less forgotten.

1854

Bernardus Josephus Wilhelmus Zweers is born on May 18 in Amsterdam, the son of a music and book merchant.

1868

Because his father considers composition a waste of time and paper, Zweers studies music theory secretly. He completes his first chamber music piece.

1870

'Wals' for choir appears as Opus 1.

1876

A composition by Zweers is publicly performed for the first time.

1881

Zweers' father drops his opposition to his son composing after Zweers conducts a performance of his 'First Symphony'. Zweers becomes a dedicated Wagnerian after attending a performance of 'Der Ring des Nibelungen' in Berlin. Nevertheless, he wants to compose his own, specifically Dutch music that is free of foreign influences, particularly German.

1882

Zweers studies music theory for eight months in Leipzig with the internationally renowned composer and theorist Salomon Jadassohn (1831-1902) – though he remains selft-taught as a composer. Once back in the Netherlands, he works as a conductor with several choirs, including that of the Moses and Aaron Church in Amsterdam.

1883

He completes the cantata 'De kosmos' [The Cosmos].

1887 - 1889

The 'Third Symphony' in B-flat major remains his best-known work. At more than an hour long, this work has the dimensions of a Bruckner symphony. The title “To my homeland” gives an indication of the atmosphere in this work borne that is by a single musical theme. The (Dutch) titles of the four movements further underscore the sincerity of Zweers's ode to the Netherlands: In Dutch Forests; In the Countryside; At the Beach and at Seaside; In the Capital.

1890

Like various other music masters, Zweers composes a 'Sint Nicolaasfeest' [Saint Nicholas Feast] cantata for soloists, children's choir and orchestra.

1892 - 1894

Incidental music for Joost van den Vondel's 'Gysbrecht van Aemstel' is commissioned for the reopening of the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg [City Theatre].

1895

Zweers is appointed harmony and composition teacher at the Amsterdam Conservatory.

1896

Zweers is named director of the Amsterdam Conservatory.

1897 - 1898

With “Wilhelmus” as a middle name [the Dutch national anthem, the 'Wilhelmus', is named after the royal family's first member], Zweers seems preordained to write coronation cantatas if the occasion arises: Princess Wilhelmina's ascension to the throne.

1906

Zweers finishes the 'Saskia Overture' (named after Rembrandt's wife) for the Rembrandt tercentenary.

1909

He writes the ode 'Aan de Schoonheid' [To Beauty], for soloists and orchestra, to a text by P.C. Boutens.

1914 - 1915

Rabindranath Tagore (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1913), an Indian poet and author of many texts, provides the inspiration for Zweers' 'Wijzangen' [Songs of Consecration], for soprano and wind quintet. Zweers uses Frederik van Eeden's Dutch translation of the text.

1922

With his hearing increasingly deteriorating, Zweers ends his longtime work with choirs and resigns as director of the Amsterdam Conservatory.

1924

He completes the song for soprano and piano 'Harte en Land' [Heart and Country], to a text by P.C. Boutens. Bernard Zweers dies on December 9 in Amsterdam.

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.

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