Ceunen, Felix


Ceunen, Felix

Gorcum, symphonic poem for French horn and wind orchestra (first print)


Felix Ceunen
(Heusden, 13 March 1955)

Symphonic poem for French horn and wind orchestra (2013)

Composer and conductor Felix Ceunen spent formative years at the Royal Conservatories of Antwerp and Liège. His musical education there was comprehensive, including a first prize for bass tuba. For years he played in the Royal Belgian Navy Band, and today he plays an important role as coach, counsellor and jury member in the HaFaBra world.

As a composer Ceunen is to a large extent self-taught, but even so he took master classes with composers such as Jan Van Landeghem (Royal Conservatoire Brussels), Clarence Mak (Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts) and Stefano Gervasoni (Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris). He composed about a hundred works, most of them for wind instruments, but also for piano, organ, strings, brass band and symphony orchestra. Furthermore he has also been writing light music under the pseudonym Phil Eastland.

In the French city of Mirecourt, a fountainhead of violin making, Ceunen familiarized himself in 2007 with the modern playing techniques on the violin, and this changed his composition style dramatically. With the work for violin Akhlys, written in that new idiom, he became finalist in the ISME-IVME 2nd International Composition Contest in Brussels. In 2009 he composed the orchestral work Lucius Vorenus & Titus Pullo, which was performed on 13 March 2010 by the orchestra of the University of Mary Washington from Fredericksburg (Virginia). In 2010 he was awarded in Antwerp the Jef Van Hoof Prize 2010 for Parcae, a work for violin solo, a score already published before in The Flemish Music Collection (Repertoire Explorer, nr. 560).

Recent works are, among others, Cadenza e vivace for solo violin (2011), which was performed various times both in Belgium and abroad; Gorcum for French horn and wind orchestra (2013); Nyali for cello and piano, performed at the Osmose Festival in Evere (2016) and Elogium for harp, performed at the The Future Blend Project Concert in Warwick.

The symphonic poem Gorcum was inspired by the story of the martyrs of Gorcum (Gorinchem), nineteen Dutch Catholics who were hanged in the town of Brielle on 9 July 1572. Their martyr’s death took place at the beginning of the Eighty Years’ War, the revolt of the Netherlands against Spain, which was both a war of independence and religion. After Brielle was captured by the Calvinist Watergeuzen (‘Sea Beggars’), the uprising expanded and the Catholic clergy was increasingly besieged. Monasteries and convents were closed down and priests were persecuted. This was also true for Gorcum, where a group of clergymen were captured and tortured for two weeks. Because they refused to renounce their faith, they were eventually hanged on 9 July 1572, just outside of Brielle, from the beams of a turf barn. We know the names of all nineteen of them and their lives were all documented, so their memory could live on. In 1675, they were beatified and in 1867 canonised. Ever since, Gorcum has been a popular place of pilgrimage that is still visited by many today, especially on 9 July.

This story is the connecting thread in this symphonic poem for horn and concert band. The piece opens with the ‘Inquisitio haereticae pravitatis’ (the investigation into the perversity of heresy), followed by ‘Pugnam ex adverso Alva’ (the fight against Alva) and ‘Dux Domino Lumey’ (William Lumey, the leader of Sea Beggars). A ‘Lento drammatico’ leads to ‘A Martyrum Gorcum’ (The Martyrs of Gorcum), after which the execution takes place: ‘Synopsis – Executio’. The epilogue of the piece is called ‘1834: Inquisitionem abolita est’ and refers to the fact that the Inquisition was not abolished until 1834, during the reign of Isabella II. Even though it had not been active since 1700, the death of Fernando VII (1833) brought an end to the Spanish Inquisition, but it was abolished definitively in 1834, during the reign of Isabella II.

Gorcum premiered successfully on 20 September 2013 in The Endler Hall in Stellenbosch with soloist Sigrid Ceunen, daughter of the composer to whom the piece is dedicated, and Windworx Symphonic Band conducted by Rik Ghesquiere.

Duration: ca. 11 minutes.

Jan Dewilde (Translation: Joris Duytschaever / Jasmien Dewilde)

This score was published in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Flemish Music. For the orchestral parts, see www.svm.be or www.felixceunen.be.



Read full Flemish preface > HERE


Score No.

Special Edition


Piano Reduction



Special Size

Go to Top