OF FLOWERS AND BIRDS –
TO THE MEMORY OF BERNHARD VAN DEN SIGTENHORST MEYER
A composer from The Hague who fascinates me is Bernhard van den Sigtenhorst Meyer (1888-1953). My interest lies particularly in his early piano music, written in a modal-impressionist style. These compositions provide rare examples of Hague Impressionism in the musical arts and could be seen as a counterpart to the countless paintings of the Masters of the Hague School of Painters, the novels of Louis Couperus and the beautiful Rosenburg ceramics. In Of Flowers and Birds – To the memory of Bernhard van den Sigtenhorst Meyer, themes and motifs are incorporated from two of those early piano suites. The composition opens with a recollection of Roses, the first part of the cycle Of the Flowers, Opus 1. However, the gently rocking fourths in the right hand soon take a completely different course and alternate with a characteristic motif from A Flock of Tits in the Woods, Part II of Of the Birds, Opus 4. The rocking fourths return, whereupon, with the help of a playful motif borrowed from Cornfield in the Sun (Opus 1, No. 2), the transition to the second main part is realized. In this (the song of) The Swan is central (Opus 4, No. 1). As old fairy tales tell, a swan only sings once: in its dying hour. But then that singing is so intense and moving that not a single eye is left dry. In the final bars, motifs from the first section return: the jubilant sounds of the sunlit cornfields bring the composition to its climax, after which a far recollection of Roses concludes the work.
“Albert Brussee has created a wonderful homage to the refined art of Bernhard van den Sigtenhorst Meyer, the title of which refers to two of his piano cycles. Brussee uses a few motifs from those cycles to construct a new piece that is steeped in the stylistic means of Van den Sigtenhorst Meyer, such as the use of the fourth. (…) Anyone who is open to the art of the veiled indication and the ineffable, will certainly be attracted by this new offshoot of the Hague Impressionism.
The Nutcrackers rightly advocated innovation, but this does not mean that the music written before that time may no longer be played. I hope that Brussee’s homage may contribute to a renewed interest in erroneously forgotten homegrown art.”
Maarten Boonstra in De Nieuwe Muze 2018-1.
“As readers in the 2016/1, 2016/3 and 2017/2 editions of the Piano Bulletin have been able to ascertain, editor and pianist Albert Brussee delved intensively into the modal-impressionist piano works of the Dutch composer Bernhard van den Sigtenhorst Meyer. Not only did he study and play a selection from his oeuvre, Brussee was even inspired to write a composition ‘To the memory of Bernhard van den Sigtenhorst Meyer’, the subtitle of his colourful and technically quite demanding piano work Of Flowers and Birds. He published the work in his own AB Music Productions & Editions in 2017. Anyone who has read his articles will know that Van den Sigtenhorst Meyer wrote two piano cycles entitled Van de Bloemen [‘Of the Flowers’] and Van de Vogels [‘Of the Birds’]. Brussee chose fragments from both works, creating a new composition in the style of the original, but with its own structure. The nine-page composition has a colourful cover with appropriate flower and bird motifs.”
Christo Lelie in Piano Bulletin 2017-3.
© 2017 AB Music Productions & Editions, The Hague.
12 pages, with an Introduction in Dutch and English.
Available through the usual music channels (distribution by Hal Leonard in the Netherlands and Belgium), or directly from AB Music Productions & Editions.