Programme Music in the Last Four Centuries: A Contribution to the History of Musical Expression

By Frederick Niecks | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II.

IN BELGIUM, ITALY, GREAT BRITAIN, AND AMERICA.

Between the music of Belgium and that of France there is similarity and dissimilarity. The mixture of races and languages in the former country accounts for both. It accounts also for the preponderance of absolute over programmatic and picturesque instrumental music. In recent times Belgium has not in a marked degree drawn on herself the attention of the world by musical works, at least not by larger instrumental compositions. This statement, however, does not imply a denial of the production of much that is estimable and even noteworthy. JOSEPH JANSSENS ( 1801-1835), a pupil of Lesueur, interests us as an early cultivator of programme music in Belgium. He composed a symphony Le Lever du Soleil. Of those that come after him may be noted ADOLPHE SAMUEL ( 1824- 1898) and his choral symphony Christus and orchestral suite Roland à Roncevaux; PETER BENOIT (b. 1834) and his choral symphonies the Reapers and Hucbald, and his music to the plays Charlotte Corday and William of Orange; THEODORE RADOUX (b. 1835) and his symphonic tone-pictures Ahasuérus and Le Festin de Balthazar; J. B. VAN EEDEN (b. 1842) and his symphonic poem La Lutte au XVIe Siècle; JAN BLOCKX (b. 1851) and his overture Rubens; SILVAIN DUPUIS (b. 1856) and his symphonic poem Macbeth; and PAUL GILSON (b. 1865) and his symphony La Mer.

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