Willem Pijper

In 1949 the heirs to the Willem Pijper estate donated all the manuscripts of the composer to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. The collection has increased considerably since then, especially by several correspondences. Another important acquisition is the Halewijn piano score and vocal parts. This reflects the eventful history of the performance of the opera, based on the medieval ‘Liedekijn (song) van heer Halewijn’. It must have been used first of all for the performances by the Wagnervereniging in 1933, for the manuscript originally contained only the libretto written by Emmy van Lokhorst, based on a poem by Martinus Nijhoff. Later on the ‘Middle Dutch’ adaptation by Erna Buning-Jurgens has been written underneath. This libretto was used during the performance at the opening of the new building of the Boymans Museum in Rotterdam on 6 July 1935, with Eduard Verkade as producer and Corrie Hartong as choreographer. The ‘Middle Dutch’ text was also chosen for the performance in November 1937, practised anew from the very beginning. As the major part of this text has subsequently been crossed out, one may conclude that it has again been used at a later date, for instance for the *Halewijn *performances of the Nederlandsche Opera in 1952, when the original libretto was again reverted to. The numerous stage directions make the manuscript even more valuable, as they enable us to reconstruct both the production and the lighting of at least one series of performances.

Within the extensive oeuvre of the composer *Halewijn *is the only opera. A second, Merlin, was envisaged, with a libretto by Simon Vestdijk. The framework of this opera was to have been based on strictly astrological principles: three acts of twelve episodes in all, according to the signs of the zodiac, beginning with Aries and ending with Pisces. However, Pijper did not live to finish this ambitious project. Its score of 1,541 bars, broken off in the second episode of the second act, is also in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek.

Halewijn. Piano score and vocal parts. Willem Pijper (1894-1947). [Rotterdam, 1933-1935]. Copy with some compositional and textual changes written in Pijper's own hand. Paper, 82+64 pp., 341 x 268 mm. Provenance: Sotheby's, London, 26-27 Nov. 1987. 134 A

Halewijn. Piano score and vocal parts. Willem Pijper (1894-1947). [Rotterdam, 1933-1935]. Copy with some compositional and textual changes written in Pijper's own hand. Paper, 82+64 pp., 341 x 268 mm. Provenance: Sotheby's, London, 26-27 Nov. 1987. 134 A 4 / 64b, p. 9

Literature

W.C.M. Kloppenburg. Thematisch-bibliografische catalogus van de werken van Willem Pijper (1894-1947). Assen 1960, no. 86 en 102
A. van Dijk en M. Vestdijk. Merlijn. Het ontstaan van een opera in brieven en documenten. Amsterdam 1992.