RC 66 Hymne voor viool en orkest

  • violin and orchestra
  • November 7, 1904 - January 5, 1905 | revised January 1, 1917 - December 31, 1917
  • duration 12:30

After Louis Zimmermann had performed the Hymne voor viool en piano (Hymn for Violin and Piano, RC 44) at the composer’s home on 6 August 1904 (accompanied by Johanna Jongkindt), Diepenbrock promised him he would orchestrate the piece. (BD IV:245) So six years after it had been rewritten into the Hymne voor orkest (Violini Tutti Soli) (Hymn for Orchestra with all violins playing the leading role, RC 48) a third version was written for violin solo and orchestra. Thus, in January 1905 Diepenbrock completed what he had already envisioned shortly after the original piece came into being. In October that same year the edition for violin and piano was published by A.A. Noske with an official dedication to Louis Zimmermann.

The premiere of the Hymne voor viool en orkest (Hymn for Violin and Orchestra) in the Scheveningen Kurhaus by Annie de Jong and the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by August Scharrer on 8 September 1906 was received well, although some critics commented that they considered it a symphonic work with obligatory violin rather than a concertante work. In their opinion, the solo part was impaired by the tremendous orchestral sound that overpowered it. (BD V:680-682)

On 14 April 1910 Diepenbrock presented the Hymne voor viool en orkest himself with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and the soloist Julius Thornberg. (For this subscription concert he, as a guest conductor, had programmed his own Lied der Spinnerin (Song of the Spinner), Der Abend (The Evening), Hymne an die Nacht “Gehoben ist der Stein” (Hymn to the Night “Uplifted is the Stone”) and the Vioolhymne (Hymn for Violin), as well as Mahler’s Fourth Symphony.) After this performance he decided to revise the work. (BD VII:213) It took until 1912 before he got round to doing so: first Die Nacht (The Night, RC 106) needed completing and then he spent several months refining the score of Im grossen Schweigen (In Great Silence, RC 67). On 20 January 1912 Diepenbrock wrote to Johanna Jongkindt that, as far as the Hymne was concerned, he intended

to get the orchestration to the level of that of Die Nacht and to make some cuts. It is too much like pitiful floundering, but that is how it is. For me it is the only way to finally achieve but a few things with an entirely radiant soul and inner glow. What I have expressed in it is my possession and my life. (BD VII:312-313)

Review and revision

Louis Zimmermann was the soloist at the festive concert in celebration of Diepenbrock’s fiftieth birthday on 12 September 1912. The Hymne voor viool en orkest received mixed reviews, but the execution by Zimmermann was widely applauded by the critics. Worth mentioning is the characterisation of the piece by L. van Gigh in the daily paper De Telegraaf:

It is a song full of passion, well-organised in its arrangement of the beautiful main theme, and, although it had been conceived as an inseparable unity with the orchestra, very rewarding for the soloist. With the exception of the occasional too fierce outburst by the brass, the balance between both is spot on. An attractive, pure piece of music that was played exceptionally by Louis Zimmermann. His tone was warm and passionate and we felt the love he himself must have for this work. (BD VIII:565)

Clearly Diepenbrock was still not satisfied with the orchestration of the Hymne voor viool en orkest, as he revised the composition once again five years later, between 28 April and 29 June 1917. On 3 April 1921, two days before Diepenbrock’s death, the newly orchestrated version of the piece was performed at last by Louis Zimmermann and the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by J. Richard Heukeroth. Through his wife, Diepenbrock had asked the manager H. Freyer not to mention in the programme book that the Hymne had been orchestrated again: He thinks it is better if the audience is left out of this. (BD X:340)

Robert Spannenberg