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Henk Badings - Ninth Symphony

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Author Topic: Henk Badings - Ninth Symphony  (Read 2192 times)
Jolly Roger
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« on: May 23, 2014, 07:20:39 am »

Firstly, may I express the hope that some more members will soon be stimulated to publish their reviews here from time to time. Just imagine, if fifty people contribute a weekly review of something from the archives that they have been listening to!

The next item I have selected at random, knowing nothing about it, is the Ninth Symphony of Henk Badings (1907 to 1998), kindly contributed by member Elroel. Badings was born in Bandung, and was sent to the Netherlands in 1915 as an orphan. His prize-winning First Symphony was given its first performance by the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1930, and aroused the interest of press and public. Despite that success, the composer later withdrew it!

In the 1950s he began to experiment with new scales, micro-intervals and diverse acoustical phenomena. This resulted in the development, in conjunction with A.D. Fokker, of a 31-note scale based on ideas formulated by Christiaan Huygens in the seventeenth century. The microtonal system (with the diesis as the smallest interval) allowed for a finer control of overtones as well as leading to experimentation with different kinds of tuning. Badings also worked in the electronic studio at Delft. His guiding principle throughout was to realize previously unavailable pitches, timbres and rhythms. (Incidentally there are a number of differing dictionary definitions of diesis - does any one know which is applicable in the case of Badings?)

Back to this Ninth Symphony. It did not turn out to be quite what I had expected. It is in fact a short work (sixteen minutes), for string orchestra alone. There are three movements. In the first (seven minutes) a tremolo introduction is followed by a vigorous allegro, full of the dense and complex harmony which so attracts me in other Badings compositions I have previously heard. A memorable pizzicato passage over tremolo bass is followed by a return of the initial vigorous theme, wherewith the movement ends. As is so often the case in twentieth-century music, many of the rhythmic and textural ideas are derived from Stravinsky's Rite. I think that for Badings the textures were largely the point of his music.

Sydney - I think this is very fine idea, because music is useless unless shared. I think this may go a long way for members here and  I hope the reviews are civil and informative.

Although I am not an academic, I can't help feeling that (in general) Badings wrote from the head, and not the heart..sometimes sounding "engineered" as his earlier background apparently followed him into his musical career. Perhaps a tone poem or ballet would change my mind if he has written any.

But while most music in this genre is distasteful to me, I think Badings is so clever he does make for some very interesting music.
Perhaps the 9th is an example..I will listen soon.. thanks for starting this..
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