Suremont, Pierre Jean


Suremont, Pierre Jean

Symphonie (1820 / first print)


Pierre Jean Suremont – Symphonie (1820)

(Antwerp, 29 January 1762 – Antwerp, 8 March 1831)

Pierre Jean Suremont was a successful Antwerp merchant who found his passion in music, and his artistic outlet in composing. For twenty years, from 1786 to 1806, he worked and lived in Brussels. During his time there he was good friends with Jean Englebert Pauwels (1768-1804), violinist and conductor of the Monnaie Theatre as well as an excellent composer. It was possibly Pauwels who guided Suremont in his first steps in the field of composition. Suremont‘s earliest compositions date from the first years of the nineteenth century: some minor liturgical works and the opera Les trois Cousines. After his return to Antwerp in 1806, he quickly followed up with four major mass compositions and festive psalm settings, all for soloists, choir and large orchestra. These works were performed in the Antwerp Cathedral and in other major churches in the city.

After the turbulent period of the end of French rule, and the seizure of power by the Dutch (1814-1815), Suremont welcomed the new ruler with a Chant Patriotique à Son A: R: Frederic Guillaume d‘Orange Nassau Prince Hereditaire des Pays-Bas (1815). The new regime wanted to actively promote the Dutch language, amongst other things through composition competitions. In a first competition, where he was asked to compose music for a Dutch national anthem, Suremont missed the boat. But in 1816, he became first laureate in a competition organised by the Société Royale des Beaux-Arts et de la Littérature de Gand, with the cantata Nederlands Zegenprael (Dutch triumph), to a text by Catharina Bilderdijk. And a few years later, in 1818, the Fourth Class of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands awarded its cantata De Toonkunst (Musical art), set to a text by Hendrik Herman Klijn. This Symphonie too was most probably Suremont‘s entry for a competition held in Ghent in 1820. More on this later.
In the mid-1820s, Suremont mainly focused on music historiography. In response to a contest launched in 1824 by the Royal Institute of the Netherlands, he investigated the importance of the ‚Belgian‘ composers of the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and their influence on the development of music. His answer to this question, the only one submitted, was judged meritorious but inadequate in 1826. In 1828, he still published his findings in a booklet: Opuscule apologétique sur les mérites des célèbres musiciens belges, inventeurs ou régénérateurs de la musique aux 14e, 15e et 16e siècles. This made him one of the pioneers in the study of Flemish Polyphony.
Suremont gradually began to write more and more for wind orchestra. The earliest datable work for this ensemble dates from 1812, but especially in the period 1828-1830 he composed a whole series of works written for the military orchestras of the Dutch army divisions stationed in Antwerp and Brussels. In addition to arrangements of overtures by Gluck and Paesiello or parts from symphonies by Haydn, among others, there are also some original compositions, such as an Overture (The Flemish Music Collection 2591) and a Divertissement sur un thème de Herold – Variations e Polacca.
Symphonie (1820)
In August 1820, the city of Ghent organised an exhibition of products of national industry to coincide with a triennial salon of paintings and a competition for painting. The Société Royale des Beaux-Arts et de la Littérature de Gand did not sit idly by, deciding on 6 February 1820 on a new competition for its three classes. A symphony for large orchestra is requested for the class of music.1 The brief reads as follows: 2 …


Read German preface / Read Flemish preface> HERE

Score No.


Special Edition







First print

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