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WILLEM DE FESCH

Summary | Biography | Discography | Photos | Audio/Video

willem de fesch

Period

26-08-1687 - 03-01-1761

Genre

baroque, classical, componist, viool

Pseudonyms

Defesch

Willem de Fesch

Willem de Fesch, a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach, is an important composer and violinist in the first half of the 18th century. His composition is clearly influenced by the work of Arcangelo Corelli, Antonio Vivaldi and Georg Friedrich Handel. But because of his individual, striking temperament, it holds a ...
Full biography

Instruments

componist, viool

Mentioned in the biography of

1714   Jacob Nozeman

Biography Willem de Fesch

Willem de Fesch, a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach, is an important composer and violinist in the first half of the 18th century. His composition is clearly influenced by the work of Arcangelo Corelli, Antonio Vivaldi and Georg Friedrich Handel. But because of his individual, striking temperament, it holds a unique position in European music history. Unfortunately, several of his works have been lost.

1687 - 1710

Willem de Fesch (also written as Defesch, du Feche, de Feghg, de Veg) is born on August 26, 1687. His parents, Louis de Fesch and Johanna Maasbracht, come from Luik. Their sons Pieter and Willem are born in Alkmaar. The family returns to Luik before 1690. About 1710, Pieter and Willem travel to Holland to establish themselves as musicians in Amsterdam.

1710 - 1725

Willem de Fesch marries the daughter of his violin teacher, Carl Rosier. He performs on several occasions – in 1718, 1719 and 1722, in any case – as a concert violinist in Antwerp. He has probably also worked in Amsterdam as a church musician. It is during this period that his first printed works appear: duets for two violins and a number of concertos and sonatas for various small (string) ensembles. The music is in keeping with the stylistic characteristics of the time, but it stands out for its virtuoso cadenzas, apparently those performed by the composer himself.

1725 - 1731

De Fesch moves to Antwerp, where he succeeds Alphonse d’Eve as kapellmeister at the Cathedral of Our Lady. He soon is in conflict with the church authorities, apparently because of his behaviour. Some complain of his unpredictable, egotistic and negligent character. Meanwhile, he composes several Masses and instrumental sonatas, which are published in Brussels. These works show greater expressivity and simplicity, as is emerging in the Italian style of the period (Corelli and Vivaldi). De Fesch must ultimately resign from his position in Antwerp.

1732 - 1749

Willem de Fesch moves with his wife to London, where he performs as a violinist, his wife as a singer. London, along with Paris and Milan, is one of the most important music centres of the day. Handel has for some time already had great success there with his operas and (later) oratorios. His first oratorio in English, 'Esther', is performed in 1732, and De Fesch’s oratorio 'Judith' follows a year later – it is performed again in 1740. The performance of Handel’s oratorio 'Joseph and his Brethren' in 1744 is followed in 1745 by De Fesch’s oratorio 'Joseph'. When, in 1746, De Fesch becomes the concertmaster of Handel’s orchestra, it becomes clear that there is no rivalry between them. In 1748 and 1749, he conducts the orchestra in Marylebone Gardens. In addition to the aforementioned oratorios, De Fesch composes in London the pastoral serenade 'Love and Friendship', the comic opera 'The London Apprentice', various sonatas and concertos, and a collection of songs. Some of the English songs are written for theatre productions, such as William Shakespeare’s 'The Tempest' in 1746. The texts of his Italian songs are taken mostly from Paolo Rolli’s 'Di canzonette e di cantate libri due'.

1750 - 1761

Willem de Fesch withdraws from public life. He dies in London on January 3, 1761.

2005

Albersen in The Hague publishes the book 'Willem de Fesch: An excellent musician and a worthy man', by the musicologist Robert L. Tusler.

Discography Willem de Fesch

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 de Fesch

Audio/Video Willem de Fesch

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