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WILLEM PIJPER

Summary | Biography | Discography | Photos | Audio/Video

Willem Pijper

Period

08-09-1894 - 18-03-1947

Genre

classical, componist, impressionist music

Online

Officiële website

Willem Pijper

Willem Pijper is often called the most important Dutch composer of the first half of the 20th century, along with Matthijs Vermeulen. In a mere few years (1918 to 1922) he developed into one of the most advanced composers in Europe. After his first compositions, which were clearly influenced by ...
Full biography

Instruments

componist

Mentioned in the biography of

0193   Oscar van Hemel
1911   Leo Kok
1913   Jan Masséus
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Biography Willem Pijper

Willem Pijper is often called the most important Dutch composer of the first half of the 20th century, along with Matthijs Vermeulen. In a mere few years (1918 to 1922) he developed into one of the most advanced composers in Europe. After his first compositions, which were clearly influenced by Gustav Mahler and Claude Debussy, he reached an artistic peak in the 1930s in which all of his music was derived from a germ cell (usually four tones). The (development of) melody is by far the most important factor in this. As Pijper said: “Music comes into being solely from melodic elements”, and “Musical value is melodic value”. Pijper also had great significance in Dutch music as a teacher. He taught instrumentation at the Amsterdam Conservatory and was the director of the Rotterdam Conservatory. Among his students were Kees van Baaren, Henk Badings, Henriëtte Bosmans and Rudolf Escher. The Willem Pijper Prize, created by the Johan Wagenaar Foundation, became a distinction awarded to notable new Dutch compositions.

1911 - 1914

Willem Pijper (September 8, 1894, Zeist) attends the Utrechtse Toonkunst Muziekschool, where he takes composition lessons from Johan Wagenaar and piano lessons from Helena van Lunteren-Hansen. He also plays the organ.

Johan Wagenaar

1914 - 1916

At first, Pijper composes mainly chamber music, writing for example his first 'String Quartet' this year. Matthijs Vermeulen later says of this piece: “In the song-like, compassionate, contemplative and at times ecstatically yearning andante of that string quartet from his youth, there is not a single bar that is not expressive and perfectly ordered.” After passing his examination in theoretical subjects, he takes private lessons in composition for three years.

Matthijs Vermeulen

1917 - 1923

Pijper writes tart articles and reviews for the Utrechts Dagblad, often about musical life in Utrecht. One victim of his pen is Jan van Gilse, who in 1922 resigns as conductor of the Utrecht orchestra after repeated attacks by Pijper.

Jan van Gilse

1918

Willem Mengelberg premieres Pijper’s first 'Symphonie' (1917), bringing the composer national fame.

Willem Mengelberg

1920 - 1922

Pijper’s 'Septet', more than the First Symphony, exploits his “germ cell technique” in which an entire composition is based on the continual variation of a tiny melodic idea. This marks the beginning of the second, and most productive, period of his life as a composer. He teaches harmonics at the Amsterdam College of Music. Pijper represents the Netherlands in Salzburg at the founding of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) in 1922 and lays the foundation for its Dutch chapter.

1925 - 1930

Sem Dresden appoints him head of the orchestration and composition department at the Amsterdam Conservatory. With Paul F. Sanders, Pijper begins the periodical De Muziek. With his articles he hopes to give direction to Dutch musical life. His collected essays are published under the titles 'De Quintencirkel' [The Circle of Fifths] and 'De Stemvork' [The Tuning Fork] by Querido in Amsterdam.

Sem Dresden

1930 - 1934

Willem Pijper is named director of the Rotterdam Conservatory. A third period in Pijper’s composition begins with the opera 'Halewijn'. After it, however, he devotes more time to teaching than composing. 'Halewijn', according to Pijper, is not so much an opera as a “symphonic drama” – the Netherlands hardly has an opera tradition. Three years previously, he wrote: “Opera is something whose very existence people here hardly suspect.”

1935 - 1946

Willem Pijper writes for the weekly 'De Groene Amsterdammer'. At the death of his great example Alban Berg, he becomes more sombre about the future of European classical music: “The prospects for European music in our time have become considerably bleaker through this death. In Europe, there is no longer much hope of progress, of renewal.” His home is destroyed in the bombardment of Rotterdam in May 1940, but most of his oeuvre survives.

1947

Willem Pijper dies in Leidschendam on March 18.

2011

Willem Pijper's collected writings are published by the Royal Society for Music History of The Netherlands with the title 'Het Papieren Gevaar'.

Discography Willem Pijper

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 Willem Pijper

Audio/Video Willem Pijper

Audio Willem Pijper

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