UNICO VAN WASSENAER
Unico van Wassenaer
Until recently, Van Wassenaer was known primarily for his diplomatic achievements; as a composer and musician, he was considered at best merely an amateur. Then, in 1980, the musicologist Albert Dunning identified him as the spritual father of the Sei concerti armonici, six string concertos that have long stirred the ...
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Biography Unico van Wassenaer
Until recently, Van Wassenaer was known primarily for his diplomatic achievements; as a composer and musician, he was considered at best merely an amateur. Then, in 1980, the musicologist Albert Dunning identified him as the spritual father of the Sei concerti armonici, six string concertos that have long stirred the imagination, were claimed by various composers and used by Igor Stravinsky in his ballet Pulcinella.
Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer is born on November 9 at Twickel Castle in Delden into a family ennobled by Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine. His father is a prominent diplomat and general. Owing to a lack of archive material, Unico Wilhelm's youth is cloaked in obscurity.
The Van Wassenaer family leaves the Netherlands after the father has waited fruitlessly for rehabilitation following his loss at the Battle of Ekeren (1703). The family takes up residence in Düsseldorf, a city with a rich musical life .
They return to the Netherlands and live in The Hague.
1710 - 1718
Van Wassenaer enters Leiden University on September 18 to study law. In 1714, he inherits the Twickel estate and the family's German domains of Lennep en Wülfrath. Around this time he composes three sonatas for recorder. It is likely that he had lessons with Quirinus van Blankenburg, Giovanni Albicastro (Johann von Weissenburg), and Carlo Ricciotti. Upon completing his university studies he makes two grand tours of Europe.
Van Wassenaer is appointed member of the High Water Board Council of Rijnland. On September 26, he marries Dodonea Lucia van Goslinga, who is ten years his junior.
1730 - 1740
The young Van Wassenaer family live on the Noordeinde in The Hague. It is here that he presumably composes the 'Concerti armonici' in his scarce spare time; the first edition appears in 1740. He is appointed administrator of the Dutch East India Company.
1744 - 1747
Van Wassenaer advances his career through the Chivalric German Order, Bailiwick of Utrecht, of which he has been a member since his youth. He has become a prominent diplomat and repeatedly travels as “ambassador extraordinary” and “minister plenipotentiary” to France and the Electorate of Cologne. In 1747, he is a representative at the peace negotiations of the Congress of Breda.
1753 - 1761
He assumes the day-to-day direction of the the Chivalric German Order, Bailiwick of Utrecht; in 1761 he becomes the national commander.
After a lengthy illness, Van Wassenaer dies on November 9, 1766, his 74th birthday. He is laid to rest in the family crypt in the Grote Kerk in The Hague. On his coffin stands the words: “Virtue mourns in him a supporter, and Humanity an example.”
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