Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

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Wagenaar, Diderik

(b Utrecht, 10 May 1946). Dutch composer. He studied music theory with Jan van Dijk, Hein Kien and Rudolf Koumans, and the piano with Simon Admiraal at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. As a composer he is essentially self-taught. He was appointed as a teacher of theory and 20th-century music at the Royal Conservatory in 1969.

Wagenaar is, along with Louis Andriessen and Cornelius de Bondt, one of the central figures of what has become known as the Hague School. His works represent the typical approach of this group of composers in its most austere form, with their exploitation of homogenous textures, their clearly defined, though irregular rhythmic structure, and their dissonant, but centripetal harmonies. He is especially remarkable for his handling of long, purely unison passages, which significantly influenced the work of Andriessen.

Wagenaar is the author of a modest but significant output, which shows a very constant development. The early works display abrupt shifts between different textures and still show traces of his interest in jazz music. From this period, Liederen (1976) is a convincing example of cyclic development within a mosaic-like framework. His exploration of the ambiguity between harmonic and rhythmic density reached its apex in Metrum (1984), a complex, polyrhythmic work for four saxophones and orchestra for which he was awarded the Kees van Baaren Prize in 1989. In the works that followed he reconciled a rich, chromatic harmony with a ritualistic, Stravinskian formal clarity. Solenne (1992), for six percussionists, marked a new phase, where his musical language, though in essence unchanged, assumed an expressive tranquillity and a lyrical vein. This development led to his first full-scale vocal work, Trois poèmes en prose (1995), which earned him the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize in 1996.


(selective list)

Kaleidofonen, a sax, pf, 1969; Praxis, 2 pf, ob ad lib, 1973, rev. 1990; Liederen (Canzonas), 15 brass, db, 2 pf, 1976, rev. 1978; Tam Tam, ens, 1978; Canapé, cl, vn, vc, pf, 1980; Stadium, 2 pf, 1981; Metrum, 4 sax, orch, 1984, rev. 1986; Crescent, wind ens, 1985; Limiet, str qt, 1985; Festinalente, tpt, brass band, perc, 1988; Triforium, wind ens, perc, 1988; La volta, pf, 1989; Tessituur, orch, 1990; Solenne, 6 perc, 1992; Lent, vague, indécis, ens, 1993; Cat Music, 2 vn, 1994; La caccia, trbn, 1995; 3 poèmes en prose (C. Baudelaire), S, orch, 1995; Rookery Hill, ens, 1998; Galilei, chbr orch, 1999 [after G. Galilei, R. Bellarmino, B. Pascal]

Arr.: A. Berg: 5 Orchesterlieder nach Ansichtskarten-Texten von Peter Altenberg op.4, medium v, ens, 1985


Principal publisher: Donemus


‘Liederen: an Analysis’, Key Notes, x (1979), 28–32

‘Tam Tam’, Key Notes, xi (1980), 5–6


M. Altena: ‘A Fossilized Abstraction’, Key Notes, xxiii (1986), 9 only

G. Carl: ‘A Sense of Escalation: Diderik Wagenaar’s Discrete Evolution’, Key Notes, xxiv (1987), 14–22

J. Kolsteeg: ‘In Dialogue with Beauty: the Musical Space of Diderik Wagenaar’, Key Notes, xxix (1994), 7–9

P.U. Hiu and J. van der Klis, eds.: ‘Diderik Wagenaar’, Het HonderdComponistenBoek (Bloemendaal, 1997)


Wagenaar, Johan(nes)

(b Utrecht, 1 Nov 1862; d The Hague, 17 June 1941). Dutch composer and teacher. He studied at the Toonkunstmuziekschool in Utrecht, taking composition lessons from Richard Hol. On graduation in 1885, he immediately began his career as a teacher there, simultaneously studying the organ with Samuel de Lange. He replaced Hol three years later as organist of Utrecht Cathedral, earning renown for his Bach performances, and in 1896 succeeded him as director of the Toonkunstmuziekschool, retaining both of these posts until 1919. In 1892 he spent a year in Berlin (studying with Herzogenberg) and Vienna. Wagenaar conducted the Toonkunst choirs of Utrecht (1904–27), Arnhem, Leiden and The Hague, also a male voice choir in Utrecht, often in large-scale choral or orchestral music by composers such as Berlioz and Mahler. In 1916 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Utrecht, and in 1919 was appointed director of the Royal Hague Conservatory, where he remained until 1937. Among his composition pupils were van Anrooy, Pijper, Bernard Wagenaar, Voormolen, Enthoven and Orthel.

Around 1900, together with Zweers and Diepenbrock, Wagenaar gradually re-established the role of the composer in Dutch musical life. He was active in lay musical clubs, and attempted to popularize music through humour. His cantata De schipbreuk, full of social and musical caricature, was performed widely in the Low Countries.

His wit is further displayed in the cantatas De fortuinlijke kist and Jupiter Amans and two operas, De doge van Venetië and De Cid, which resort to parody and satire, emphasizing the surface sentimentality and absurdity of so many Romantic operas. Wagenaar generally composed to suit the tastes of his own generation, rather than current fashions; as a result, his late works received little attention. Those pieces which have remained in the Dutch repertory (such as the overtures Cyrano de Bergerac and De getemde feeks, and Wiener Dreivierteltakt) are programmatic or theatrical in origin. The writing shows a remarkable feeling for tone-colour, with strong overtones of Berlioz and Strauss. A serious, arguably more original aspect of his talent appears in compositions such as the symphonic poem Saul en David and the vocal scene Aveux de Phèdre.

For his services to music Wagenaar was decorated six times by the Dutch Queen and twice by King Albert of Belgium: a striking contrast with his youth when, as one of six illegitimate children of a prominent aristocrat, he had known poverty and social discrimination (Roest, 1988).


(selective list)

Ops: De doge van Venetië (quasi-serious, 3, M.P. Lindo), op.20, Utrecht, Stadsschouwburg, 13 Apr 1901; De Cid (burleske, 4, Lindo), op.27, Utrecht, Stadsschouwburg, 14 Apr 1916

Orch: Koning Jan, ov., op.9, 1891; Blijspel-ouverture [Comedy Ov.], op.11, 1892; Romantisch intermezzo, op.13, 1894; Levenszomer, sym. poem, op.21, 1903; Cyrano de Bergerac, ov., op.23, 1905; Saul en David, sym. poem, op.24, 1906; De getemde feeks [The Taming of the Shrew], ov., op.25, 1909; Sinfonietta, op.32, 1917; Driekoningenavond, ov., op.36, 1927; Intermezzo pastorale, op.37, 1928; Wiener Dreivierteltakt, waltz cycle, op.38, 1929; De philosophische prinses, ov., op.39, 1932; Larghetto, op.40, ob, orch, 1934; Amphitrion, ov., op.45, 1938; Elverhoï, sym. poem, op.48, 1939

Vocal: De schipbreuk [The Shipwreck] (cant., De Schoolmeester [G. van de Linde]), op.8a, 1889; Ode aan de vriendschap (De Schoolmeester), op.16b, SATB, pf/orch, 1898; Prière au printemps (S. Prudhomme), op.18, SSAA, pf, 1898; Fantasie over een oud-Nederlandsch lied (J. van Dokkum), op.19, TTBB, orch, 1899; De fortuinlijke kist [The Treasure Chest] (cant., D. Wagenaar), op.29, 1916; Chanson, op.30, SSATB, 1917; Canticum (P. Damasté), op.33, SATB, 1923; Jupiter Amans (cant., De Schoolmeester), op.35, 1924–5; Aveux de Phèdre (J. Racine), op.41, S, orch, 1935; other choral works and arrs.

Inst: Intrada, org, 1914; Komt, dankt nu allen God, choral fantasy, op.33c, wind, 1923; 18 Pieces, op.43, 3 tpt, 3 trb, org, 1934–8; Introduction and Fugue on a Russian Theme, op.47, org, 1939


MSS in NL-DHgm

Principal publishers: Leuckart, J.A.H. Wagenaar


De muziek, vii/2 (1932) [Wagenaar issue]

E.W. Schallenberg: ‘Johan Wagenaars opera's’, Muziekhistorische perspectieven (Amsterdam, 1939), 108–14

De wereld der muziek, vii/11 (1941) [Wagenaar issue]

W. Roest: Johan Wagenaar: biografische verkenning (diss., U. of Utrecht, 1988)


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