August De Boeck – Élégie
(Merchtem, 9 May 1865 – Merchtem, 9 October 1937)
August De Boeck belonged to a remarkable generation of talented and successful Flemish composers, together with, among others, Paul Gilson (1865-1942), Lodewijk Mortelmans (1868-1952) and Joseph Ryelandt (1870-1965). Each in their own way, to a greater or lesser extent, they tried to find new soundscapes to enrich the late-Romantic idiom. In De Boeck’s case, he found these new sounds in the Russian scores to which his friend and mentor Gilson introduced him. Later in his career he connected more with French music, with influences going from César Franck to an, at times, Debussyan impressionism.
De Boek left an extensive and varied oeuvre consisting of more than 350 pieces, of which around 70 are missing – De Boeck was particularly careless when it came to his autographs. The score of this Élégie was missing for a long time as well, until the autograph manuscript was discovered by chance in the music library of the Radio orchestra, when the conductor Edmond Saveniers went looking for orchestrations of songs by De Boeck. The annotations on the parts show that at one point the pieces had been performed, more than likely by one of the radio orchestras. Saveniers was struck by the beauty of this haunting elegy and recorded the piece in 1994, together with the Euregio Youth Orchestra. This recording can be found on the album August De Boeck (1865-1937). French songs and orchestral music (Phaedra, In Flanders’ Fields, vol. 5).
It is unclear when De Boeck composed this work. A version for piano, entitled Treurdicht – Élégie (Elegy), came out in 1921, in his collection Ariettes (Children’s Songs), which was published by Schott frères in Brussels. However, we were unable to discover which version was composed first.
Duration: ca. 4’50”.
Jan Dewilde (translation: Jasmien Dewilde)
This score was created by Simon De Paepe, who performed this work together with the Con Spirito orchestra on 24 October 2019 in the Blue Hall of deSingel in Antwerp during the Stadsklanken XIX festival. This edition was made possible in collaboration with the Study Centre for Flemish Music (www.svm.be).
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