Arthur Meulemans – Concerto for great organ, trumpet, horn and trombone (1962)
(Aarschot, 19 May 1884 – Etterbeek, 29 June 1966)
Arthur Meulemans was one of the most prolific composers of his generation. In addition to three operas, oratorios, cantatas, theatre music, liturgical music, choral pieces, songs, works for solo instruments and chamber music, he wrote more than a hundred orchestral pieces, including fifteen symphonies and concertante works for virtually every orchestral instrument. Even well into old age Meulemans remained creative and continued composing substantial pieces. Between 1959 and 1964 he wrote about fifty compositions, including various orchestral works.
He wrote the Concerto for great organ, trumpet, horn and trombone around his 78th birthday. As a trained organist he returned to the organ around that time and composed, among other works, Concerto for organ and orchestra no. 2 (1958), Sei pezzi (1959), Pièce héroïque (1959) as well as this concertante work for organ and brass trio.
In November 1962 Meulemans delivered the manuscript1 to his publisher Wed. J.R. Van Rossum in Utrecht. In his reply on 27 November 1962 Herman Zengerink of the publishing house praised Meulemans’s ‘unabated artistic activity’: ‘The fact that after such an exceptionally rich oeuvre you are still capable of creating a work of such importance, is proof of a mind that is forever young and of a truly healthy musicality. And that is worth a profound “congratulations”.’2 However, the publisher thought the market was too small to justify the high costs of publishing. For his organ works Sei pezzi and Pièce héroïque the publisher was guaranteed the purchase of 200 copies for the American market, but for the more expensive publication of the Concerto, the publisher asked Meulemans whether there were perhaps ‘any other sources to finance a publication?’ On 10 December 1962 Meulemans informed the publisher that he would finance the costs of printing himself. On that occasion he asked to dedicate the publication to Mr and Mrs Van Sull – De Maeyer, ‘friends who have helped me in the trying times lately’. Meulemans refers to the passing of his wife Aline Seeliger on 23 July 1962, shortly after ending the Concerto: the first part, Poco allegro, was finished on 10 June 1962, the Allegro on 14 June, the Adagio on 18 juni and the final part, Allegro con brio, on 6 July.
The piece was recorded on 27 September 1964 by Herman Verschraegen (organ), Geo Michiels (trumpet), Maurice Van Bocxstaele (horn) and Jules De Haes (trombone). This recording, which presumably was also the first performance, was broadcast by the RTB (Radio Télévision Belge) on 22 October 1965. In June 1972 the piece was recorded again, by Jozef Sluys (organ), Geo Michiels (trumpet), Adhémar Pluvinage (horn) and Roger Renard (trombone). And on 1 December 1991 the Concerto was recorded during a concert at the Church of Our Lady in Vilvoorde by Eric Hallein (organ), Peter Lejaeghere (trumpet), Mieke Alliet (horn) and Dirk Decae (trombone).
(translation: Jasmien Dewilde)
This reprint of a copy belonging to the library of the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp was published in collaboration with the Study Centre for Flemish Music (www.svm.be).
1 The autograph manuscript is kept in the library of the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp (KVC MEUMS 237093).
2 Archives of the Arthur Meulemansfonds (Library Royal Conservatoire Antwerp).
Read full Flemish preface > HERE