When Robert Heppener dies, he is mourned as the nestor of Dutch composers. But his music was not always loved. He shows little interest in the impassioned innovations of serialism, for instance, and goes in a direction of his own in the decades after the war; but especially from the ...
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Biography Robert Heppener
When Robert Heppener dies, he is mourned as the nestor of Dutch composers. But his music was not always loved. He shows little interest in the impassioned innovations of serialism, for instance, and goes in a direction of his own in the decades after the war; but especially from the 1970s, his work is more appreciated. Heppener scores for the most varied ensemble and orchestral combinations, particularly for orchestra and human voice. Music for unaccompanied choir holds a special place in his oeuvre. The music journalist Anthony Fiumara on the role of the human voice in his work: “Though Heppener wrote in various genres – from the opera 'Een ziel van hout' [A Wooden Soul] (1995) to orchestral, ensemble and solo pieces – the human voice always played a central role. His works for choir as well as his song cycle 'Four Songs on Poems by Ezra Pound' are among the best in that area composed in the Netherlands”. Heppener, in addition, writes chamber music and music for the theatre and film. According to his student Joël Bons: “Heppener never represented a particular school in his music, but with great integrity always followed his own ‘inner logic’, based on a knowledge of and love for tradition”.
Robert Heppener is born in Amsterdam on August 9.
1936 - 1951
Heppener says that it was upon hearing Mozart’s 'Eine kleine Nachtmusik' that he decides “to get into music”. In 1943, he begins studying the piano at the Amsterdam Conservatory with Jan Odé and Johan van den Boogert. But he soon realises that his heart lies in composing. “I am not interested in perfecting my playing. I played everything I could get my hands on.” After receiving his diploma, he begins studying composition with Bertus van Lier in 1947.
1952 - 1965
On June 5, his 'Cantico delle Creature di San Francesco d'Assisi' (1952) is premiered. As it ends, Matthijs Vermeulen shouts “Bravo!” Heppener writes his first film music in 1956 for 'Een leger van gehouwen steen' [An Army from Chiselled Stone] by Theo van Haren Noman. In 1964, he begins teaching the piano and later also music theory at the Rotterdam Music School. In 1964, he leaves Rotterdam for Amsterdam to teach music theory and composition at the Muzieklyceum.
1966 - 1969
Heppener composes music for the film 'Het Gangstermeisje' [The Gangstergirl] of Frans Weisz. He receives the Fontein Tuynhout Prize for 'Canti carnascialeschi' (1966), a composition in which he strikes a synthesis between a number of influences.
1974 - 1977
Heppener is awarded the Willem Pijper Prize for 'Four Songs on Poems by Ezra Pound' (1970). In 1975, he leaves the Amsterdam Conservatory as head of the music theory department. He writes the music for the film 'Pastorale 1943' by Wim Verstappen.
1980 - 1984
Robert Heppener begins teaching composition at the Maastricht Conservatory. After six years of writer’s block, he composes the monumental 'Memento', for soprano and ensemble.
Heppener writes the orchestral piece 'Boog' [Bow] (1988) for the centennial of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
1993 - 1996
For 'Im Gestein' (1992), Heppener receives the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize, and in 1996 he is awarded the Johan Wagenaar Prize for his complete oeuvre. He writes the opera 'Een ziel van hout'.
Heppener is awarded the ANV-Visser Neerlandia Prize. The Brabant Orchestra gives him carte blanche to programme a series of concerts of his own music along with works by composers who have played a role in his life, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Robert Schumann, Hans Werner Henze and Ton de Leeuw.
Robert Heppener dies at the age of 84 in Bergen on August 25.
Discography Robert Heppener
|Type and year||CD, 1995|
|Label||Composers' Voice, Highlights CV48|
Ed Spanjaard conducts Robert Heppener
|Type and year||CD, 1997|
|Label||Composers' Voice, Highlights CV62|
Robert Heppener - Netherlands Chamber Choir
|Type and year||CD, 1999|
|Label||Composers' Voice, Jubilee CVCD 78|
Ed Spanjaard - Heppener
|Type and year||CD, 1995|
|Label||Donemus, CV 48|
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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