Diepenbrock wrote the Bruiloftslied (Wedding Song) for the twelve and a half years wedding anniversary of Willem and Mathilde Mengelberg-Wubbe, which was to be celebrated on 5 January 1913 with a big dinner party for a hundred guests. As Diepenbrock himself put it, he was asked “to write a ditty for the occasion” for the singers Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius and Pauline de Haan-Manifarges.
The poem provided by Jan Beukers, a close friend of the conductor, was of such poor quality that Diepenbrock was quite reluctant to set it to music. In a letter to Johanna Jongkindt he complained about this ‘commission’ he felt he could not refuse:
One of Mengelberg’s friends has written a text for it in the usual style with:
Love is the soul of life!!
Love, love above all!!
‘Love’ must be repaying me now that I am fated to set that drivel to music. I am doing it for Mengelberg. Anyway, by doing something like that, I will pass the evening more easily, if only because it isolates me a bit. […] Of course the ‘audience’ will find it ‘fun’ to hear Aal and Lien de Haan, who they only know from the St Matthew Passion, singing in a waltz tempo (BD VIII:78)
According to an entry in the diary of his wife, Diepenbrock thought the poem was “very tasteless” and became sick of it while composing. (BD VIII:83) Diepenbrock himself called his Bruiloftslied “that wretched duet” and his reluctant efforts contributed to him having to spend the days before the party in bed with a high fever and stomach problems. (BD VIII:85-86)
Nevertheless, Bruiloftslied is a worthy tribute to the conductor Mengelberg: an original refrain song that has melodic variation in the verses and intermezzos that vary in length. It also has virtuoso vocal parts.
In her diary Elisabeth Diepenbrock wrote an extensive report on the dinner party. For the performance of the Bruiloftslied both singers were dressed in black, adorned with red roses (
half café chantant, which nobody had expected from them), while the musicians (Louis Zimmermann, violin; Cornelis Dopper, viola; Frits Gaillard and Thomas Canivez, cello; Richard Krüger, oboe; director Henk Freyer, triangle) and the conductor Diepenbrock were all in red tails (
like a posh ‘string ensemble’ in a hotel and it looked very charming). The work was a great success and was immediately encored.
It was the centrepiece of the evening and really an excellent achievement by everyone. Tilly and Willem were greatly moved and glowed with pleasure. (BD VIII:83)