Daniël de Lange (1841-1918)

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  • Daniël de Lange in his early days as a cello virtuoso
  • De Lange around the time of the Lioba composition
  • Old and distinguished
  • De Lange around the time of the composition of ‘De val van Kuilenburg’ (1887)

‘Little of his music that was published at the time reveals a more rich harmonic palet than those that were at the disposal of most of his fellow Dutch composers at that time and his harmonic inventiveness is often more expansive.’ (Eduard Reeser)

‘Daniël de Lange was a man with a vision. He maintained that children should be brought to music at a young age, because music touches the soul, while language primarily develops the brain’. (Laura de Lange in ‘Op de bres voor een muzikale familie’, 2011)

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Daniël de Lange was a music teacher, conductor, critic and composer. In the context of all these callings his compository oeuvre remained limited. Most noted are his symphony, some works for choir and his songs. He also composed a complete and half an opera, respectively De val van Kuilenburg (1878) and the dramatic scene on text by Frederik van Eeden, Lioba (1906). The first title is currently considered lost, the second one is part of our 401Concerts 3 programme, where we bring the orchestral introduction in a version for piano and violin, with Pieter Dhoore, piano and Ann Vancoillie, violin. The concert is downloadable under 401Concerts 3 download, along with excerpts from operas by De Lange’s Dutch contemporaries Julius Röntgen, Cornelis Dopper, Willem LandréGerard von Brucken FockJan Brandts Buys and Richard Hageman. We are currently studying the possibilities of performing the larger part of Lioba, which was certainly the most ambitious work that De Lange composed in his mature period (De val van Kuilenburg was a youth work)

Text: René Seghers
Sources: Manuscript score Lioba (1906); Anton Averkamp, ‘Levensbericht van Daniel de Lange’, Jaarboek van de Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde, 1918.); Eduard Reeser, ‘Een Eeuw Nederlandse Muziek 1815-1915’, Querido, 1986); Hoestekst bij ‘Van Eyken, Samuël De Lange sr., Samuël de Lange Jr., Daniël de Lange’ (LP Marcato MR 08502, Haags Gemeentemuseum, 1980s); Johan Kolsteeg en Huib Ramer, ‘Daniël de Lange’, Honderd Componistenboek, Gottmer, Haarlem, 1997); Boekje bij ‘Liederen Samuel de Lange jr – Daniël de Lange’ (2007, SDLCD0701); Laura de Lange in ‘Op de bres voor een muzikale familie’, onbekend tijdschriftknipsel, 2011); Correspondence with Jacques Kleverlaan, author of a still unfinished study into the life and works of  Daniël de Lange, 2015); 'Daniël de Lange' (www.stichtingdelange.nl).
Partners: Nederlands Muziek Instituut, Kröller-Müller Museum
Photos: NMI, Stichting Daniël de Lange, 401DutchOperas.com archives.
Tickets 401Concerts 3 for sale via ticketlink

Daniël de Lange (Rotterdam, 11 July 1840 – Point Loma, California, 30 january 1918) received his first music lessons together with his one year older brother Samuel Jr. from their father Samuel de Lange Sr. His father was an organ player, his mother was Johanna Molijn. The father taught them church music, organ playing and music theory. From 1851 to 1854 Daniël attended the Toonkunst Music School Rotterdam where he took lessons with Simon Ganz (violoncello), Johannes Verhulst (theoretical) and Johannes Franciscus Dupont. The full scope of his talents was revealed for the first time at the age of 11, in a composition for chorus and soliosts on the text of psalm 137, a composition that he conducted in person at the première. In 1855 the fourteen-years-old Daniël went to Brussels for further studies with Bernard Damcke (composition) and Jaak Lemmens (organ) and also with cello virtuoso Adrien François Servais. For three years he and his brother Samuel jr (1840-1884) lived with Servais.

Concert trips through Eastern Europe

In 1958, at the age of 17, Daniël and Samuel Jr. made concert trips as a piano/cello duo through Audstria-Hungary. They resided in Vienna, where they also made their debut. From Poand to Romania they celebrated triumphs which resulted in a post at the Conservatory of Lemberg (currently Lwów in Poland). There they taught from 1860 to 1863.



Daniël de Lange: ‘Variations et allegro fugué'
Geoffrey Douglas Madge (piano)
(1980s LP Marcato • Haags Gemeentemuseum).

In 1863 the brothers returned to Rotterdam. Daniël was appointed cello teacher at the Music School there, succeeding Simon Ganz. He could however not find peace with the narrow minded musical world of the city, which judged a ‘pityful small minded dump with pompous pretensions’ and therefore he left for Paris in 1864. There he parted from his career as a cello virtuoso, that started to bore him. Instead he manifested himself as an organ player and a choir conductor. In Paris he became aquainted with such composers as Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, Lalo, Bizet, Massenet and Vieuxtemps. He also taught composition there, among others to Ernest Chausson. It was in Paris that his first compositions were published (a.o. piano works, songs and the 1st Symphony opus 4, (dedicated to ‘mon ami Edouard Lalo’)).


Daniël de Lange: Symfonie Nr. 1 Opus 4 (Allegro moderato)
Dutch Radio Symphony Orchestra o.l.v. Jac van Steen (1997 Dutch Radio).

On 5 August 1869 Daniël married Lide van Oordt, during the same ceremony at which his brother Samuel Jr. married Lide’s sister Aafje van Oordt. The marriage between Daniël and Lide resulted in two sons and four daughters (one of which died in infancy). At this point the website of the family De Lange notices also that De Lange’s fascination for Palestrina and then forgotten masters such as Sweelinck harks back to this period, during which he himself wrote a unique ’Requiem’ for a-capella-double choir which clearly reveals this fascination. Paris also marked his first contact with the musical avant-garde of his day, Wagner, Berlioz and Liszt, for whom he had much admration (contrary to his brother).


Daniël de Lange:Requiem 4. 'Sanctus - Benedictus' • 5. 'Agnus Dei'
Nederlands Kamerkoor o.l.v. Uwe Gronostay (CD NM Classics).

Didactic mission in Amsterdam

DanielDeLangeAcappellaKoor'… a choir the fortissimo of which would drown the biggest of our feebly monstrous choral societies, and the pianissimo of which almost embraces perfect silence.' (Bernard Shaw)

During his holidays in 1870 the French-German war started and De Lange decided to remain in The Netherlands. He took a post as teacher of the Society for promoting Tonal Arts (MtbvdT) in Amsterdam. His didactic mission there resulted in 1873 in the founding of the music school in Zaandam and in 1875 in the founding of the Leiden department of the MtbvdT. In 1877 he took a post there as secretary, in which function he had a tremendous impact on Dutch musical life until 1909. His importance for Dutch choral development and as active member of the society of Dutch Musical Histry was likewise very profound. De Lange was also the first paid music critic in the country, writing for ‘Het Nieuws van de Dag’. He was admired and feared for his razor sharp pen. In 1881 he had founded an a-capella choir with soloists such as soprano Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius, baritone Johannes Messchaert and tenor Johan Rogmans, which became famous overnight after a performance in Vienna of Dutch and Italian renaissance workse.

DanielDeLAngeOprAmstConservatoriumYet De Lange’s greatest merit lies perhaps in the founding (together with Frans Coenen, Julius Röntgen and Johannes Messchaert) of the first Dutch Conservatory, the one in Amsterdam. He taught there composition, solfège and musical history. In 1895 he succeeded Julius Röntgen there as director.

As a conductor, De Lange introduced among others Berlioz’ La Damnation de Faust and Bruckner’s 3rd and 7th Symphony. Apart from that he published a study of Eastern gamelan music.

Theosophy and emigration to the USA

DanielDeLangeColifornieAfter Lide’s death on April 28 1910 he remarried with Anna Maria Gouda, a singer, on 6 July 1911. From this marriage no further children were born. He and Anna Maria became deeply interested in theosophy. In 1914 they emigrated to Point Loma in California where the head quarters of the theosophic movement resided. Daniël became director of their conservatory and published his ‘Thoughts on Music’. He died in Point Loma on January 30 1918

Daniël de Lange as composer

‘He wasn’t possesed by the need to create and perhaps he didn’t need to create.’ (Sem Dresden over Daniël de Lange)

‘The 1993 performance of  the ‘Requiem’ by the Dutch Chamber Choir made a profound impression. This belated world première took place in Paris, the city where De Lange had composed the opus in 1868, and to which he owed his strongest musical impulses.’ (Johan Kolsteeg and Huib Ramer, ‘Daniël de Lange’, Honderd Componistenboek, Gottmer, Haarlem, 1997)


Daniël de Lange: Zehn Lieder und Gesänge ‘Erster Verlust’ (J.W. Goethe)
(2007 CD SDLCD0701 Laura de Lange (piano), Wiard Witholt (bariton)).

In the light of the manyfold theoretical, didactic and programmatic activities of De Lange it  will not come as a suprrise that his compository output remains relatively limited. Yet it contains pieces that have been sporadically performed again since the 1980s, especially his symphony, some works for choir and his songs. Interesting are De Lange’s orchestral songs on texts of the 1880s generation of poets such as Frederik van Eeden and Albert Verwey. He also composed chamber music, works for piano and organ, some orchestral works among which the mentioned symphony and a complete and a half opera, respectively De val van Kuilenburg (1878) and the dramatic scene on text by Frederik van Eeden, Lioba (1906). Important also in the context of this website on dramatic music is the stage music that De Lange composed for the entr’actes in Victor Hugo’s Hérnani. Johan Kolsteeg and Huib Ramer describe his oeuvre in the spirit of Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner in which atmosphere De Lange eventually developed a very personal style combining challenging harmonies  with the principles that he derived from old music. The mentioned ‘Requiem’ thus integrates influences of the late medieval polyphonic school with the avant garde chromatism of De Lange’s time.

Opera composer

His number of composition is limited, and he never strived to have them performed. Each propaganda effort in this direction was embarrasing to him and he also didn’t like it when others pushed for their works. Yet he could accept it, if his works spontaneously reached performance. Only very seldom did he allow himself to star as a composer, such as when his setting of Frederik van Eeden’s Liobawas premiered in the Stadsschouwburg. At the same time he never strived to see his earlier opera, De val van Kuilenburg performed.’ (Anton Averkamp, ‘Levensbericht van Daniel de Lange’, Jaarboek van de Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde, 1918.)

Of De Lange’s operas and stage music not a note is remembered today, although a photograph of some bars of the Lioba score graced the cover design of an LP recording of the The Hague City Museum, that contained works of father and both sons. The score of De val van Kuilenburg is considered lost and perhaps not much was lost on this youthful opus of 1878, a historic epos, although it is certainly De Lange’s most ambitious composition is terms of lenth and scope. To our best knowledge it was never performed except for a single aria from it, which was sung by soprano Marie Sablairolles on a Sunday afternoon concert on 10 January 1878 in Het Park Theater in Amsterdam. The Park orchestra accompanied her and the critic of Caecilia devoted the following words to it:

‘I strongly doubt that Mr. De Lange has been contented with the recital of one of the arias from his opera ‘De val van Kuilenburg’. I believe this aria could have been performed much better than Mrs. Sablairolles did, and I would have liked to see a first performance of a Dutch dramatic work in a more felicitous way. Judging on this aria ‘De val van Kuilenburg’ is an old school number opera, perhaps even with dialogues. The text by Mr. H. de Veer is based on historical facts. The same material has been used by Van Lennep in his delightful story ‘Eene schakeling in de 17e eeuw’. The deeper intentions of the work are still unclear to me, because these were not explained in the programme.’ (Muziektijdschrift Caecilia, 1878)

In his still unpublished biography on Daniël de Lange, Jacques Kleverlaan mentions that ten years later, in June 1887, publications appeared regarding a planned performance of De val van Kuilenburg in the Parkschouwburg Amsterdam. The performance was planned for September 1887 during the Congress of Literature there. Organisational and financial problems prevented this from materializing. De Lange did have the musical direction over the concert that did happen during the congress, but no parts of his opera were performed there.

The manuscript score of Lioba from 1906, on a text by Frederik van Eeden, survived in the archives of our partner the Nederlands Muziek Instituut. 401DutchOperas has made a piano reduction of the orchestral introduction from the the full score which was the performed at 401Concerts 3 in the Kröller-Müller Museum Otterlo, on May 29 2016. Pianist was Pieter Dhoore and Ann Vancoillie played solo violin. This performance was a world premiere in modern times and also the world premiere recording of any excerpt of this operatic scene (an sample can be heard in the video trailer presented above of 401Concerts 3). The recording is available through the download 401Concerts 3.

A Daniël de Lange renaissance

The end of the 20th century saw a modest rise in attention for De Lange’s works. The first sign of this was the mentioned LP recording from the 1980s, a release in the series issued by the The Hague City Museum. This contained works by all three De Lange’s and by Gerrit Jan van Eyken, with soprano Wendela Bronsgeest.


Daniël de Lange: 'Du liebst mich nicht' (H. Heine)
Geoffrey Douglas Madge (piano), Wendela Bronsgeest (sopraan)
(1980s LP Marcato • Haags Gemeentemuseum).

Daniël was represented with his song ‘Du liebst mich nicht’ (text by Heine) from ‘Lieder und Gesänge’ opus 10 and with his Paris composed opus 1, the ‘Variations et Allegro fugué’ (dedicated to his teacher Johannes Verhulst). After musicologist and publisher Willem Noske redicovered the score of the ‘Requiem’ (1867, Paris), this was issued in an award winning 1993 cd. This release was followed by the 2006 cd publication of De Lange’s Symphony opus 4. Over the years various issues have been released with one or more songs by either Daniël or Samuel de Lange Jr.


Daniël de Lange: 'Sentiers où l'herbe se balance' (V. Hugo)
(2007 CD SDLCD0701 Laura de Lange (piano), Ilse Eerens (sopraan)).


Daniël de Lange: 'Vor einer Genziane op. 7' (R. Hamerling)
(2007 CD SDLCD0701 Laura de Lange (piano), Wiard Witholt (bariton)).

In 2004 Jan Willem Terwen’s study “Daniël de Lange and the Gamelan” won the prestigious Jan Pieter Heye Prize, and since 2005 there is a De Lange Foundation directed by a far granddaughter, Laura de Lange, herself a pianist. Purpose of the foundation is to promote further performances and recordings of works by the brothers De Lange. Laura: ‘This was not so logical as it seems because at home no one ever spoke about our ancestors. It wasn’t until I attended the conservatory that I realized that they were really special. That’s when I thought their music deserved new attention and then I decided to promote it through the foundation.’

Following the commemorative De Lange year 2011 with various performances dedicated to their works, 401DutchOperas filmed a 2015 performance of his Symphony in Utrecht. In 2016 a cd was released with Nienke Oostenrijk singing two songs by Samuel Jr. In May this cd was followed by the mentioned performance of the introduction to Lioba, the youngest step forward in the modest but fascinating Daniël de Lange renaissance.

Download 401Concerts 3 with Lioba

401COnc3Logo150The recording of our third 401DutchOperas concert in the Kröller-Müller Museum is downloadable via 401Concerts 3. Apart from highlights from Daniël de Lange's Lioba it also includes highlights from Cornelis Dopper's De blinde van Casteel Cuillé, Willem Landré's De roos van Dekama, Gerard von Brucken Fock's Jozal, Julius Röntgen's Agnete en De lachende Cavalier, Jan van Gilse's Helga von Stavern, Jan Brandts Buys’ De kleermakers van Marken (Die Schneider von Schönau) and Richard Hageman's Caponsacchi.

Tickets for 401Concerts 3 in the Kröller-Müller Museum

Through the website of the Kröller-Müller Museum tickets for the May 29 2016 concert are available through www.krollermuller.nl/401nederlandseoperas. The concert is part of a special presentation. The price includes catering and a meet & greet with the artists. By attending you support the project of salvaging Dutch operatic history by means of a series of unique live recordings of its highlights. By nature our concerts are singular events, each time with entirely new repertoire, which has to be constructed from handwritten manuscript scores. This makes these concerts far more expensive to organize than average concerts that can be taken on tou.