Oscar Van Hemel – Violin Concerto – Theo Olof, Violin – Utrecht Symphony Orchestra- Paul Hupperts, Cond. VPRO Transcription – 1948 –
Music of Belgian/Dutch composer Oscar Van Hemel this weekend. His violin concerto, as performed on this Radio Nederland transcription disc with Theo Olof, Violin and the Utrecht Symphony conducted by Paul Hupperts.
I assume this is the same performance which has been reissued over the years, by various Dutch historic labels. This one comes via the radio series Netherlands Composers, which was available to radio stations here in the U.S. on massive 16″ transcription discs. This performance comes from one of them.
In any event – Oscar van Hemel was a Dutch composer of Belgian birth. He studied composition with de Boeck and Mortelmans. From 1916 to 1917 he worked as a violinist in the orchestra of the Dutch Opera of Gerard Hendrik Koopman in Amsterdam. Through the concerts at the Concertgebouw, van Hemel became acquainted with the music of Richard Strauss, Debussy and Ravel. From 1918 to 1949 van Hemel taught violin, piano and music theory at the music school in Bergen-op-Zoom. His earliest compositions date from the years just after World War I. Through Eduard Flipse, conductor of the Rotterdam PO, van Hemel came into contact with Willem Pijper, with whom he studied composition (1931-1933). The study period with Pijper was decisive for van Hemel’s compositional career.
After the publication of the First Violin Sonata in 1936, a work which was generally well received, van Hemel’s compositional activities steadily increased. His orchestral works were regularly performed by the Rotterdam PO conducted by Flipse. One of van Hemel’s pieces performed during World War II was Resurrectio (1941) in which he depicted the resurrection of Rotterdam, and more especially that of the Rotterdam PO, after the catastrophic bombardment of 14 May 1940. In late 1949 van Hemel settled in Hilversum, where he composed many works commissioned by the Dutch broadcasting stations NOS and KRO, the government and the city councils of Hilversum and Amsterdam. Van Hemel won 12 prizes, including the music prize of the city of Amsterdam for his First Violin Concerto and the Dutch government prize for the Ballade, both in 1948.
Van Hemel’s oeuvre is extensive, many-sided and well crafted. He was a moderately progressive composer who used modern harmonies and melodies within the framework of classical forms such as sonata, lied and rondo. He employed cellular motivic technique, bitonality, 12-note technique and serialism, but continually strove to remain understandable for a wide public. Van Hemel was one of the most performed Dutch composers in the years between 1940 and 1970.
If you aren’t already familiar with the music of Oscar Van Hemel, here is a very reasonable (free) source to get started.