#211– August 07, 2023
Francis de Bourguignon and The Synthetists
Récitatif et Ronde, Op.94, by Belgian composer, pianist, teacher, and music critic Francis de Bourguignon is our Composition of the Week.
During the coming summer weeks, we are presenting Belgian literature for wind orchestra by Paul Gilson and a group of his students who, in September 1925, joined their creative forces to form the first group of composers in Belgian history, called the Synthetists.
The music they produced constitutes an unavoidable historical heritage of the early 20th century.
This fresh and imaginative repertoire, of great artistic quality, remains curiously and unjustly unknown.
Récitatif et Ronde was written in 1951 and premiered by the Belgian Guides, as was his concertino for piano and winds from 1927.
Originally written for orchestra, Récitatif and Ronde was transcribed by De Bourguignon’s student Jos Hanniken (1912 – 1998), conductor of the Belgian Navy Band and composer as well.
Recitatif et Ronde is structured in a single movement, and it is scored for:
Solo C-Trumpet and standard concert band setting, including Double Bass, Harp, Timpani and one Percussion part.
It has a duration of about 9 minutes.
The music is available at Band Press, Belgium.
Francis de Bourguignon studied at the Royal Conservatory in his hometown Brussels, with such eminent teachers as Edmond Tinel, for fugue, and Paul Gilson, for orchestration. Following his piano teacher, the great virtuoso Arthur De Greef, he pursued a career as a pianist. He has been the side man of singer Clara Clairbert and violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaye.
From 1915 to 1920, he was regular accompanist to singer Nellie Melba. After numerous tours that took him all over the world, de Bourguignon began composing. He again took lessons from master Paul Gilson and joined The Synthetits group. He was the eldest member.
De Bourguignon taught harmony and counterpoint at the Royal Conservatoire of Brussels until 1955 and became director of the Music Academy of Anderlecht. He also worked as a music critic for New York’s Musical Courier.
Works for orchestra (several symphonic poems, a symphony, and a concerto grosso), piano works, chamber music, choral pieces and film music soon earned him international renown. Francis de Bourguignon died in Brussels on April 11, 1961.
Other works for winds include:
- Concertino for Piano and Wind Orchestra (1927)
- Two pieces for Wind Quintet (1941)