The Homage to Johan Wagenaar is a concert overture—a genre in which Johan Wagenaar himself composed some of his most successful pieces—cast into a sonata form mould with a slow introduction, making use of themes that have been derived from various compositions by Wagenaar himself. In the score, these pieces are mentioned next to the various themes. Simultaneously, the composition has been modelled on the life story of this important Dutch composer, who lived from 1862 till 1941. A Note Performer recording of the music can be heard here:
Analysis of the structure:
00:00 Introduction. The composition starts with an atmospheric slow introduction, immediately introducing the primary and secondary themes of the ensuing Exposition.
00:41 The fairytale-like atmosphere is reinforced by a theme in the horns, derived from Wagenaar’s symphonic poem Elverhoï (number 1).
00:56 Johan was an extramarital child from a patrician and a housemaid, which caused him a lifelong struggle with inferiority feelings. The themes of respectively the aristocracy and the common people from the first act finale of Mozart’s Don Giovanni musically express the class difference between his parents (number 2).
01:17 In number 3 finally, the music gradually becomes more turbulent.
01:44 Exposition. The turbulence leads to the exposition of the primary theme (number 4), not without reason derived from Wagenaar’s overture The Taming of the Shrew: As a child, Johan has a vehement nature and he is difficult to handle.
02:45 However, once his musical talents have been discovered by a musician from the Utrecht City Orchestra, he receives a thorough musical education, into which he submerges himself with his inborn vehemence. This is being expressed by a fiery fugato, starting at number 9.
03:36 Soon the music quiets down, leading to the
04:05 secondary theme (number 12). This has been derived from the love theme from Wagenaar’s overture Cyrano de Bergerac: Johan meets Dina, the love of his life, and they start a relationship.
06:00 Development. Suddenly, a furious variant of the aristocracy’s theme appears (number 17): Dina’s parents are vehemently against a marriage between their daughter and Johan, who not only is a bastard child, but on top of that also a mere musician. This theme starts a musical conflict with the Taming of the Shrew theme.
06:49 When Dina’s parents finally force their daughter to return to the paternal house, far away from Johan, a time of sadness and loneliness follows. In number 21 we hear a lamenting variant of the common-people theme from Don Giovanni,
08:37 in number 23 followed by motives from the Taming of the Shrew theme.
09:34 (Inverted) Recapitulation. Years later, Johan encounters Dina again (number 25). In the meantime, her father has died and Johan has acquired some status, so this time it turns out that it is possible for them to marry. 10:58 Both are unified in marriage (number 29),
11:47 and for Johan a time of musical triumphs follows (number 33),
12:22 during which he finds support in a happy marriage (number 35).
The Dutch Fund for the Podium Arts has enabled me to compose this overture. I feel honoured to have been able to write this musical homage to what I consider one of the most important composers the Netherlands has produced.