Saturday 31 December 2011

12 for 2012: No.7: Johan Wagenaar (1862-1941)

During each of the twelve days of Christmas, the 1709 Blog is bringing readers some information concerning an author, composer, artist or creator who died in 1941 and whose works fall into the public domain in 2012 in countries which operate a "life plus seventy years" term for copyright in authors' works. Today's featured creative personality is not so well-known -- so it will be interesting to see if his reputation rises now that his music has fallen out of copyright.

Dutch composer Johan Wagenaar began his formal musical education at the age of thirteen, at the Utrecht music school. Upon graduation, Wagenaar was immediately offered a job teaching at the same institution, which he juggled alongside composition studies in Berlin. Wagenaar remained a dedicated teacher throughout the rest of his career, progressing to directorship of the music conservatoire in The Hague (1919). Most of Wagenaar’s compositions are choral and orchestral works with lively themes; the majority of these are programmatic and have strong theatrical connotations.

Some of Wagenaar's most famous works include the overture 'Cyrano de Bergerac' (1905), 'De getemde feeks' (‘The Taming of the Shrew’, 1909), and his symphonic poems 'Saul en David' and 'Elverhöi'. Despite the sweeping changes that were revolutionising classical music in the early twentieth century, Wagenaar’s orchestral style was more conservative, reminiscent of nineteenth-century romantic tradition.

This series has been authored by Miriam Levenson, whom the 1709 Blog gives its grateful thanks.

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