RC 129 Beiaard

  • Vada (ps. of E. Amory-Berends) ()
  • mezzo-soprano (or baritone) and piano
  • 1916-06-15 00:00:00.0 - 1916-06-17 00:00:00.0
  • duration 2:00

I no longer have the poem about the alarm bells at hand. In places it was not suitable to be sung, Diepenbrock wrote to Balthazar Verhagen on 7 August 1915. (BD VIII:497) Presumably he was referring to the poem Beiaard (Carillon) by E. Amory-Berends. On seeing the text again in the printed edition of the eponymous song by A.H. Amory (1862-1930), which appeared as a supplement to the magazine Het Muziekcollege on 1 June 1916, Diepenbrock must have changed his mind. Halfway through the month he set the verses, in which the poetess recounts that the church bells in Flanders and Wallonia will remain silent during the German occupation and will not sound again until the victory is won, to music.

The text expresses the same fighting attitude as in Les poilus de l’Argonne (RC 122) and the Landstormlied “Waak op, Nederland” (“The Netherlands, Awake”, RC 123). Belges, debout! (RC 131) and Le vin de la Revanche (RC 135) would bring Diepenbrock’s total of compositions on the theme of war to five. Of these works he considered the Beiaard the only art song. (BD IX:226)

Soon after its completion Diepenbrock made an attempt to have the song published in the weekly De Groene Amsterdammer. However, at that moment the music could not be engraved as many of the engravers were under arms. The decision was made to publish the piece in facsimile form as a supplement to the edition of 8 July 1916. (BD IX:125) Just under a year later, on 24 March 1917, a printed edition of the composition financed by Diepenbrock himself, appeared in print. There is no documentation on a performance of the work.

In April 1917 Diepenbrock sent a parcel with his war songs to the journalist Marie van Maanen (1864-1937) in Rome, asking her to have the texts translated into Italian. Diepenbrock thought the four popular songs would certainly stand a chance, but he reckoned the Italians would also appreciate the Beiaard. (BD IX:226-227) The translation never materialised.

After the war Diepenbrock’s brother-in-law Michel Frenkel, who lived in Paris, took the initiative to write a French version of the text, as he wanted to make it possible for the song to be sung in France. (BD X:279) He changed the words of the closing line, as he believed that mentioning the Flemings and the Walloons was too specific a reference to Belgian politics. We do not know how it turned out or whether a French version of the Beiaard was ever performed.

Robert Spannenberg & Ton Braas