Karel Van Eycken made a full career as building engineer in his country. At the same time, since his youth, he studied music . First the fundamentals of music theory and solfège with his grandfather (who was director of several bands) – afterwards as an autodidact. Composing happened only during the scarce free time. Many compositions were made but by lacking contacts in the music world, they were never published.
A biography (in Dutch) of the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu, written by Karel Van Eycken in the years 1980 – 1983 brought him in contact with the Czech music world. He was honored for that work in Prague where he received the Bohuslav Martinu Medal, and became honorary citizen of the town of Policka, birthplace of Martinu.
At the age of sixty, Karel Van Eycken retired as engineer and from then on, he could spend all his time composing music. All existing works were verified and revised ; some destroyed. Many new compositions were created. We mention compositions for all kinds of instruments and ensembles, like works for solo piano, violin, viola, etc. – ensembles – concerto’s and works for full orchestra. A piano quartet was dedicated to his friend Harry Halbreich ; four impromptus for piano had been composed for Daniel Blumenthal and created by him. A series of string quartets, six until now, have been masterfully played by the César Franck string quartet and published on CD.
The mean part of the oeuvre of Karel Van Eycken is chamber music. We do find pieces for the classical ensembles like sonatas, wind quintets, string quartets, etc. but also for unusual combinations. He wrote e.g. a septuor for the same instruments as Stravinsky did for his ‘Histoire du soldat’. The ‘Partita’ for fifteen strings was successfully received.
The six symphonies and other important works are ready to be played. We mention songs and works for choir e.g. ‘Lament for Irak’ (8 voices and piano) on Sumerian texts. More joyfull are the songs on texts by Erik Satie for baritone and orchestra. At the moment – august 2019 - hundred and forty have been published .
Karel Van Eycken is member of Comav (Componistenarchipel Vlaanderen) and also member of the Union of Belgian Composers. All his works are (and shall be) edited by DMP in Antwerp.
CD : String quartets 1 & 2 and first cello sonata (15 €)
2CD : String quartets 3,4,5,6 (25 €)
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Volgende concerten :
About my music.
I always had a great intrest in as well old and new music and that brought me a large view on different styles, on every combination of instruments and on musical items. The concerts I could attend were also very enriching. I do remember dearly the concerts given (literally : no entrance fee) at the radio house in Brussels by the two symphonic orchestras (one from the Dutch Radio and one from the French speaking radio). They used the same concert room alternatively. The repertoire was of course the ‘big names’ but also we could hear work of our local (and living) composers.
Together with the theoretical part of my formation, this concerts impregnated my way of thinking about music and especially about my own compositions. The melody is for me the fundament of all music. So - you can hardly find long phrases,- I do use rather short motifs who are combined in a web of more or less voices, after the necessity of the piece. My music is by definition melodious. There is always happening something : the voices run over the instruments with variations to form a polyphonic movement. This way of composing is the most satisfying for myself and it will stay as a characterisation of my work.
My music sounds different of course comparing to other composers. Imitation does not mean good music. On the other hand can study of the masters lead to new conclusions and new forms. So, a ‘rondo’ can now worked out in a variation way ; it is no more the same but the idea behind is still there. Because my music is abstract, I can use the ‘traditional’ names for the movements such as : allegro, adagio, e.s.o. Listeners can already know what to expect with such indications and there is a link with the tradition, and this I like to keep. I do not think about writing an opera because my compositions are first of all abstract and not of this sort of drama.
Most of my works are in multiple movements. Again, I think that the balance is best achieved by using the good things of the past. It is not a romantic exclusivity to compose e.g. a string quartet in four movements. On the contrary : division in movements give a good insight and the needed tranquillity for the listener. He is better ‘in’ the piece.
You could suppose until this point that I don’t compose new music. But melody and form are but some aspects of a composition. Another one is the chosen harmonies. I like to be ‘classified’ in what we call ‘postmodernism’. This tendency emerged out of the great experiences of the second half of the 20th century. Here the limits between music and sounds became very tiny. Now, we are back to pure music with all the possibilities of the older masters, extended with the results of the experiments. It is allowed now to write tonal chords ; there is no more the obligation to be all the time dissonant ; dodecaphonic techniques may be applied ; atonality is an achievement ; bitonality and polytonality are free to be used ; a composition may even be composed in a firm tonality ! In short : all we know me be used.
This leads to the result that you should find in my compositions : a modern soundscape contained in a comfortable canvas.
The series of six string quartets I composed is for me a major achievement as are the three symphonies. The difficulty with symphonies is that they are not easily to be performed. On the contrary, chamber works are more frequently heard and come faster in the repertoire of ensembles.
I aim to write beautiful music for the humanity.
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