for violin and orchestra
BBC Radio 3
Composer of the week
Between Love and War
Concert piece for violin and orchestra
Henriëtte Bosmans wrote Concert piece for violin and orchestra in 1934, which she dedicated to her fiancé and violinist Francis Koene. The piece is going to be performed for the first time in many decades by the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam with violinist Vesko Eschkenazy and conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali on March 3rd, 4th and 6th, 2022.
A friendship between Bosmans and Koene began in 1933, when they started playing as a duo. The passionate musicianship resulted in a romantic relationship. Late 1920s, Bosmans was less inspired to work as a composer, because of her career as a pianist. However, after meeting Koene, her inspiration came back, and it resulted in a passionate piece for violin and orchestra. “A beautiful dialog between the orchestra and violin” according to the tonight’s soloist, Vesko Eschkenazy.
In 1935, the first performance of the piece was planned for the festival of 40 years jubilee of Concertgebouw orchestra, a whole week dedicated to Dutch music. Francis Koene was going to premiere Bosmans piece, but unfortunately to everyone’s surprise passes away after an operation.
In November 1935, the teacher of Francis Koene, Max Zimmermann performed the piece under baton of Mengelberg together with Concertgebouw Orchestra. Many reviews wrote that through Bosmans composing, a voice of Koene speaks to the audiences. This is maybe the dialog which Vesko Eschkenazy is experiencing himself.
“The Concert piece for violin and orchestra is written in ABA form with numerous tempo changes. The first part Maestoso begins with powerful octaves in the orchestra, as an accompaniment to the dashing theme with an oriental sphere. This oriental sphere is caused through intervals such as augmented and minor seconds. The middle part is kept very simple, with a wistful melody for solo violin and simple accompaniment. Slowly the tension is brought to a quick like scherzo which brings back the main theme” as written in the biography of Bosmans by the musicologist Helen Metzelaar.
Tonight, you can experience this piece being performed again after such a long time. The piece is programmed in between of Sibelius’ Finlandia and Shostakovich’s 12th Symphony. In relation to what is happening in the world today, this concert is a reminder of the importance of music. Bosmans lived through a time, where her music was forbidden due to the Nazi regime in Germany, which affected many artists in the Netherlands. Finlandia is a reflection on the oppression in Finland and the 12th symphony is a result of another oppressed composer in the Soviet Union. The lesson we learned from the past, is that we shouldn’t punish musicians and music based on ethnicity – but rather take a distance from terrible regimes and music which is written especially to serve that.