Simons, Marijn

Marijn Simons was born in The Netherlands on December 25, 1982. He studied violin with Prof. Saschko Gawriloff, composition with Daan Manneke and James MacMillan and conducting with Ed Spanjaard, ...

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Moriae Encomium : for orchestra (opus 64) / Marijn Simons

Publisher's number: 12255
Genre: Orchestra
Subgenre: Orchestra
Scoring: pic 3fl 3ob CA 3cl cl-b fg cfg 8h 5trp 2trb trb-b tb-t tb-b timp drums 2hp str
Duration: 10'00"
Year of composition: 2010
Status: fully digitized (real-time delivery)

For a long time I wanted to compose a piece of music which is a political and social commentary on nowadays society. As soon as I got the idea to use Erasmus' ‘Moriae Encomium’ (the original Latin title for ‘The Praise of Folly’) as a basis for a short orchestral work, I was very inspired to “translate” it into my own musical comment on what I see around me in my day-to-day life.

The Dutch Performing Arts Fund commissioned this work for the 2011 tour of the Netherlands Student Orchestra. The tour starts in Someren and finishes in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. While I was working on the piece I accidentally found out that the world première will take place exactly 500 years after Erasmus’ book had first been published, namely in 1511. His satire is still remarkably up-to-date 5 centuries later!

My 10-minute orchestral work ‘Moriae Encomium’ is actually a symphonic poem. I decided not to call it as such, because the musical language of the composition is not particularly poetic. The form of a symphonic poem has been erased by 20th century aesthetics. Nowadays there's a general feeling (especially in Europe) that contemporary classical music must be abstract and objectively self sufficient, and is not to be used to programmatically "describe" any external subjects. My piece goes the opposite direction, it is a symphonic poem in a Lisztian way; it uses musical gestures, effects and quotes to musically describe a piece of literature.

Here are a few “footnotes” about some of the passages:

After the opening there's a viola solo (teasing the Concert Master who usually is the one supposed to play a solo!) accompanied by the weird combination of two tubas, two trombones and one cello. This viola solo portrays one of those figures described so brilliantly by Erasmus. Wether it is a theologist, a politician or a critic is up to the listener's imagination.

In the next passage for wood winds there's a quote from the chorale melody ‘Es ist genug’ (‘It's enough’). This "It's enough-theme" becomes a motto within this section. It's probably meant for the drummer who's by now annoying everyone with the hyperactive groove. The motto "It's enough" could also be my own personal comment on the Catholic church. As soon as I found out that a rather big amount of money had been taken from my salary every month for church taxes, I officially stepped out of the church (which was still before its recent sex scandals). Ever since I'm quite happy not to belong anymore to any institution which in the past was involved in violence and corruption.

The short quote of the ‘Battle Hymn of The Republic’ has of course a direct link with Erasmus' chapter about wars.

The Dutch national anthem gets instrumentally booed away by chords in the winds. The booing is not about the tune (which I think is actually very nice), but about the fact that Holland’s diverse cultural identity is being dragged down by the current extreme right wing ideas.

The use of the police whistle has of course numerous connotations which are all a praise of folly. - Marijn Simons

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