RC 34 Stabat mater dolorosa

  • Jacopone da Todi
  • mixed choir a cappella
  • January 23, 1896
  • duration ca. 10:00

In January 1896, five years after composing his Stabat mater dolorosa for male choir in ’s-Hertogenbosch (see RC 22), Diepenbrock – who was back in Amsterdam – completed the piece by setting the missing strophes 6 and 7 to music. At the same time he arranged the work for mixed choir because I thought it would be too difficult for a male choir and because the chromaticism would be condemned by the advocates of the strict style. (BD III:273) To Mgr. J.A.S. van Schaik (see RC 27) Diepenbrock described his motive for this revision as apprehension about the heaviness and monotony of such a long composition for male voices. He had female voices in mind for the soprano and alto parts, as he did not think boys’ voices were capable of expressing in any way the heartrending emotion that permeates the poem. (BD III:50)

When completing the text, he based himself on the Le Latin mystique. Les poètes de l’antiphonaire et la symbolique au moyen âge by Remy de Gourmont [see RC 22]. Diepenbrock mentioned this source when in February 1904 he once again explained his choice of text to his friend J.C. Hol, a former Latin and Greek pupil who was to write an article about his music:

As far as I know the text of my Stab. Mater is the authentic one from the Cura Urbani VIII. ad recentiorem venustatem redactum. It can be found in old Antwerp missals. The ‘official’ text of the Graduale of Pustet as well as the one of Solesmes are botched Renaissance texts on the same tune as the music in the [Editio] Medicaea [1614]. Most of it I derived from a book by R. de Gourmont, Le latin mystique, but I would expect the resemblance to the old text as used by Palestrina to be great. (BD IV:187)

As documentation Diepenbrock gave his manuscript to Hol. On that occasion he called the Stabat mater dolorosa one of my best works, although that what is in it will not easily be revealed. (BD IV:161)

On Good Friday, 3 April 1896 the complete version for mixed choir was premiered in the New Lutheran or Koepelkerk in Amsterdam by the Klein-Koor a Cappella conducted by Anton Averkamp. Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius and Cato Loman sang the solo parts. Diepenbrock’s work was preceded by Improperia motets by Palestrina and da Vittoria. The premiere received a lot of attention from the press. Despite the choir’s mediocre preparations – The rehearsals have been short and sloppy, Diepenbrock wrote to his friend Charles Smulders (BD II:412) – authorities such as Daniël de Lange, Simon van Milligen and Hugo Nolthenius were positive.

In April 1898 the composition was published by De Algemeene Muziekhandel in Amsterdam, with a dedication to Anton Averkamp. Three months later the Stabat mater speciosa (RC 35) came out, too. Both publications had an unusual appearance: its size of 11 x 23 cm and the calligraphed title page with a decorative edge – like for the Missa (RC 27), the lithography was done by Antoon Derkinderen – evoke associations with fifteenth-century part books. Averkamp performed the work many times.

Ton Braas