Eduard de Boer, one of the Netherlands leading orchestral composers, has been commissioned to write the set work for the 2012 European Brass Band Championships.
Under his compositional pseudonym Alexander Comitas, the work will be called, ‘Vita Aeterna Variations’ — Variations and fugue on an original theme.
Talking exclusively to 4BR, the composer spoke of the honour he felt being asked to write his first major brass band work for such a prestigious international event.
"It really is a great honour for me as a composer. I have written many works for orchestra as well as the best fanfare and wind bands, but this is my first major composition for brass bands."
Born in 1957, de Boer studied piano at the Utrecht Conservatory, and orchestral conducting at the Maastricht Conservatory.
Since 1981 he has been writing his music almost exclusively for commissions, many under his pseudonym—a Latin expression chosen to resonate with his musical outlook.
Open and transparent
"My work is open, transparent and melodic — and you could say traditional in outlook", he told 4BR. "I think of my works as musical companions to other composer’s more contemporary output. I’m very happy to write in the style I do and I think the audience enjoy it too."
My work is open, transparent and melodic — and you could say traditional in outlookEduard de Boer
Eduard has written two operas, two symphonies, two ballets, two string quartets and many other works, among which many compositions for choir, symphony orchestra and wind orchestra.
His opera-with-wind-orchestra The Emperor’s New Clothes will be premiered in 2013.
At present ‘Vita Aeterna Variations’ is at what he calls its ‘simmering stage’ of development, as he explained.
"The piece is ready and orchestrated, but I leave my works to ‘simmer’ before going back to them to finish them off. I will be sending it to Maurice Hamers and the organisers for them to look at it in detail once more before the work is published and presented to the organisers and the competing bands. I am very happy to do this."
Apart from his composing activities, Comitas has been active as as a pianist and conductor of his own works. He has also given courses and lectures on composing everywhere in Europe and teaches basics of composition at the Leopold Mozart Centre of the Augsburg University.
He is however looking forward to the European event next year.
"It’s such a honour that I am already looking forward to being there," he added. "To listen to my work played by such fine ensembles will be something to cherish."
Vita Aeterna Variations
(Variations and Fugue on an Original Theme)
Introduction by the composer
In 2007, Pim van Lommel’s scientific research on near death experiences Eindeloos Bewustzijn (Consciousness Beyond Life) was published.
The book gives strong evidence for the assumption that life doesn’t end with death and human beings indeed do have a soul that lives on eternally, as all religions claim.
I was intrigued by the subject and started reading books that attempt to describe life ‘on the other side’, like Life in the World Unseen and A Wanderer in the Spirit World.
In 2010, I was commissioned to write a piece for the Koninklijke Fanfare ‘Sint Caecilia’, from the Dutch town Puth, to commemorate one of its members, the recently deceased young euphonium player Jeffrey Lindelauf.
As coincidence would have it, Jeffrey’s parents asked me to express the viewpoint that life goes on after death in the composition, and they proposed that Vita Aeterna (Eternal Life) would be an appropriate title.
I had the feeling that the lyric theme of this piece would sound very well for Brass Band, so I decided to use it as a starting point.
Not only do I use this musical theme from the previous piece, I also wanted to elaborate a bit more on the subject of ongoing life, now combined with what in Hinduism and Buddhism is called Karma.
As a result, the Vita Aeterna Variations have the sort of rudimentary ‘program’ that many composers from the past have wisely kept to themselves:
Introduction and Theme
Tentative beginning of life
Variation I — Adagio
Full of vital energy
Variation II — Allegro energico
Evil seeks to seduce and gradually succeeds
Variation III — Tempo di valse in modo subdolo
Variation IV — Largo
Variation V — Adagio
Variation VI — Tempo di Marcia
Gradual return of life power
Finale: Fugue and Apotheosis — Allegro vivace
Boisterous, overflowing with vitality and delight in the beauty of life