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Newsletter June 2020Read the online newsletter in your webbrowser




corona tekenCorona is silence

Corona: that’s the italian word for indicating a pause above all the notes in a score. According to Johann Gottfried Walther in his Musikalisches Lexikon. This is 1732 and Europe is full of the plague and smallpox. Not to mention cholera, measles, venereal diseases, typhoid. Stops you in your tracks.

Not as radical as the ensemble Cage Against the machine though, which tried to get John Cage’s timeless 4’33” chosen as Number 1 in the British Top 40 (and got stuck at a very respectable number 25). In this newsletter we focus on the silence in Bach and Schumann. Sem de Jongh breaks the silence, not to mention Nancy Storace and Louis Armstrong. Once again there is The Hague Music coming through in waves and an Ox standing on the Roof. Who said anything about silence?



Monday 8th to Friday 12th and Monday 15th to Friday 19th June 2020

Theme: Classical Music

Genre: Baroque


Bach and silence

Handel’s Music filled Bach ad Infinitum for a month . From 8th to 12th June we go back to Johann Sebastian, with his alto cantata Vergnügte Ruh’, beliebte Seelenlust BWV 170.

BachGovert Jan Bach about silence in Baroque music:
Music isn’t often about silence. Silence was the starting point in the Baroque, it was almost always quiet, apart from bells and farmer’s carts. And silence was predominantly associated with death, “Der Schlaf is ein Tod”, or with peace: Ruhe. Bach did that in his closing chorus of the St Matthew Passion: “Wir setzen uns…”, in which the first choir wishes the second choir: Ruhe. And in his closing chorus of the St John’s Passion: “Ruhet wohl ihr heilige Gebeine”, now for eternal peace.

Eduard van Hengel about this cantata:
“The cantata Vergnügte Ruh’, beliebte Seelenlust BWV 170 was first performed on 28th July 1726, the sixth Sunday after Trinity. It’s likely that it was performed after the sermon, as Communion music. The work is unusual in that there is no choir and only one soloist, who performs all the arias and recitatives. The organ’s part is also unusual, because it plays the role of an 'obligatory' accompanying instrument. Simply comprising aria’s and recitatives, BWV 170 is a perfect example of what was then called a Cantata.”

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Theme: Classical Music



Silence, exile, cunning..in music

By Sem de Jongh

SphinxWhen all instruments stop, it’s silent. Sometimes that can lead to something magical, such as at the end of a symphony. You hear the last note, dying away in the acoustic. And then a sort of holy moment of emptiness. Every concertgoer has experienced such a moment. This phenomenon can also happen in the middle of a piece. Not only do I have an example, it’s also a confession. I don’t know what consequences it will have, it will probably be allright, as the conductor in question has passed away and the record label exists no more.

25 years ago I was editing for Philips Classics the Orchestral Suites by Bach in a performance by the Orchestra of the 18th Century with Frans Brüggen. As Music editor you couple the best takes in a tasteful way to each other. That has to be done with great precision without breaks and with nice continuous musical lines. It has to be correct rhythmically, no funny extra sounds, the acoustic must run perfectly etc. This way you create a perfect sound world.

So there I was, in an acoustically perfect sound studio, with the very best equipment of the time: B&W DM801 speakers with super amplifiers and superior A/D-convertors. It was most enjoyable because above all it is of course lovely music. After a few days I came to the famous Air. Even though I’d heard the piece hundreds of times I was in ecstasy.

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Every work day from Tuesday June 2nd 2020

Theme: Classical Music

Composer of the month: Fauré

FauréGabriel Fauré (1845) was born into Catholic family and received his first music lessons in Paris at a music school where Gregorian music was much admired. He cherished that Catholic repertoire his whole life. In many of his works he reused old compositional techniques in his own personal style. At the same time as a starting composer he had to find his own niche, taking account of the French secular taste of that time.

So the ‘classical style’ was important for Fauré as well as the older Catholic church music. Although he didn’t write many sonatas, symphonies, quartets or concertos, he adapted the essential elements: clear phrasing, a clear connection between thematic building and harmonic development and the creation of forms from pregnant melodies and motifs.

War and thereafter
The French-German War took place from 1870-‘71 . It was a humiliation for the French, who had to watch as their army was overrun in 3 weeks and even worse Wilhelm I, in Versailles (nom de Dieu!) and partly against his wishes, was crowned Deutscher Kaiser. This setback aroused French nationalistic sentiment, even in music life. The Société Nationale de Musique (aptly epitomized with the Latin motto ‘Ars Gallica’) was created, with Fauré as one of the founders.

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Saturday 6th June 2020

Theme: Crosslinks | Contemporary Music


Festival in Crisis

Deining Online: on Saturday 6th June Festival Day in Crisis, the Haagse festival for New Music, will be broadasting a 90 minute live internet edition with Kluster5, Mosa Trio Michel Marang. And artist-in-residence Meriç Artaç went especially for Day in Crisis with her camera through her birthplace Istanbul, the abandoned decor for her short film Mr. Z.

The festival theme abandoned places was dreamt up long before the coronacrisis. Idea: abandoned places which inspire artists. A more apposite theme we couldn’t imagine, although the theme acquires a extra meaning. Festival director Caroline Bakker: “Of course we’d prefer to present our festival live in the theatre with a public, because that’s what Day in Crisis is all about: the proximity, connection and making acquaintance with new music played live. But now we can’t do that, and an online edition gives us new opportunities, such as reaching an international audience.”

How does it work?
Online visitors can listen in for free on Saturday 6th June from 15.00 . Afterwards there’s an online conversation with musicians and makers via Zoom. To make the Festival feeling complete we also offer special Branding Borrel Pakketten, together with Haagse small businesses.

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Saturday 30th May and Tuesday 9th june 2020

Theme: Jazz


Satchmo forever!!!

By Sjaak Roodenburg

Say ‘Louis Armstrong’ and most people will immediately think of a sweaty man with a huge grin and a dark brown voice singing repertoire such as Hello Dolly or What a Wonderful World. Louis ArmstrongArmstrong, alias Satchmo, is one of the greatest American entertainers of the 20th century. Rightly so, but also a bit of a shame. Because his real greatness lies 50 years earlier than his best known successes. Cornetist Ruby Braff compared Armstrong’s importance for music with the Big Bang for the Universe. And Miles Davis said: “You can’t play anything on the trumpet that doesn’t come from him, even this modern shit. I don’t care how bad he sounded on the trumpet. Never.”

Trumpet Battles
On websites with musician jokes trumpeters don’t do very well. ‘How many trumpeters do you need to change a lightbulb?’ Answer: ‘One to screw it in and four to tell you how they would have done it better’. Another: ‘How do trumpeters greet one another?’ Answer: ‘Hey, nice to see you. I’m better than you.’ That ‘I’m better dates back to the battle about high notes: high C and the thin air above it.

That began at the creation of jazz. New Orleans, around the turn of the century, a town of seamen, pimps and hookers. Cafes lured customers inside with jazz music. It was the empire of cornetist Buddy Bolden, of whom it was said that his lungs were so powerful you could hear him playing 14 miles away on a clear night.

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First Tuesday of every month

Theme: Classical Music


Genius Music Friends: Nancy Storace III

By Thijs Bonger

Mozart and Haydn went soft on the same woman, and they weren’t the only ones. The young and beautiful Italian-English diva Nancy Storace entranced all of Vienna with her voice, acting talent and appearance. Nancy StorageIf the two music friends got the chance, they composed and arranged for her. For example, Haydn was thinking of her when he wrote the cantata Miseri noi, misera patria (Hob. XXIVa: 7). He wrote on the manuscript: “For the voice of my dear Storace.”

Beautiful music, but remarkably peaceful when you read the text. It turns out to be about a city that is being looted by an army and is on fire. A fine recording of this is the one led by Christopher Hogwood. The soprano part is sung by Arleen Auger and her golden voice is enchantingly beautiful.

Nancy looses her voice
Nancy Storace was an extremely busy woman. She sang almost every other day and people were just waiting for things to go wrong. And then it happened. A tenor who performed on stage with her reports: “It was a new opera written by her brother Stephen Storace. Signora Storace and I sang the lead roles. In the middle of the first act, Storace suddenly lost her voice. No note came out. Terrible for everyone involved, the audience, her colleagues and her brother, the composer. I will never forget how desperate she was. At the time, however, she did not yet realise the full impact. It took five months before she could sing again.”

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Sunday 7th june 2020

Theme: Contemporary Music


An Ox on the Roof, part 15

cover Een os op het dakOn Sunday 7 june from 12 tot 13 hours , we’ll be broadcasting volume 15 of An Ox on the Roof, Thea Derks’ series following her book with the same title.

The music theater piece Arianna by Florian Magnus Maier should have had its premiere on May 21 in Muziekgebouw aan het IJ. He wrote this ‘reconstruction’ of the eponymous opera by Monteverdi for the early music ensemble Le Nuove Musiche and his own electric guitar. Maier is also a familiar name in the field of death & trash metal.

Connie van Binsbergen also plays electric guitar, but she is involved in the world of jazz and improvisation. She became known for her many projects with poets and will make one last tour this autumn, after which she will devote herself entirely to composing. Bart Visman does not perform himself, but writes beautiful music for others. His work follows the classical tradition of composers such as Debussy and Ravel. He has a special flair for vocal music. In summary, more music by Dutch composers.

The Ox in the time of Corona #3, Sunday 7 June from 12:00 to 13:00 CET.



Before 25th June 2020



silenceCompetition: prize CD

Take advantage of our director Sem de Jongh’s confession (the article Silence, exile, cunning..in music). His ‘tampered silence‘ can be heard on YouTube. But where is it?

Listen to the recording, report the times to Sem and you will hear if you are correct.

The winner of the monthly prize of a CD will be chosen from the correct answers. Answers must be in before 25 June 2020.




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