Badings, Henk

Bandoeng (Java), 17 January 1907
Maarheeze, 26 June 1987

Sonata no.1
1. Allegro
2. Lento moderato
3. Allegro vivace
duration: circa 12′;
publisher: Donemus, Amsterdam 1948.

Sonata no.2
1. Allegro molto
2. Adagio
3. Allegro vivace
duration: circa 16′;
publisher: Alsbach & Co, Amsterdam z.j.;
dedicated to Bernard van den Sigtenhorst Meyer.

Vier voordrachtstukken (Four Pieces)
1. Serenade
2. Scherzo pizzicato
3. Air triste
4. Rondo giocoso
duration: c. 18’30”;
publisher: Donemus, Amsterdam 1947.



Henk Badings arrived in the Netherlands with his mother and his older brother in 1915, shortly after the death of his father. His mother died a year later and Badings was placed in a foster family.
After he had completed secondary school his foster father did not consent to him pursuing artistic studies. So he enrolled at the Technical University in Delft in 1924, graduating with honours as a mining engineer in 1931. In 1934 he became a research assistant in historical geology and palaeontology.
During this period Badings immersed himself in music theory subject, primarily teaching himself. For some time around 1930 he was a student of Willem Pijper, however their views were so divergent that it can be safely asserted that Pijper had little if any influence on Badings’s composing style. However Pijper did stimulate him to compose an orchestral work: the first symphony, which was performed by the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1930. This was followed by another four symphonic works, all of which were performed by the Concertgebouw Orchestra: the first cello concerto (1930, with Henk van Wezel as soloist), the second symphony (1932) and the third symphony (1934). During the same period he also wrote the two cello sonatas, which are connected by a single line of development.

During the Second World War Badings became director of the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. He was also a member of the Dutch Chamber of Culture. After the liberation from Nazi occupation he was banned from professional musical activity; however, the ban was lifted in 1947.
After the war he intensively occupied himself with electronics and experimented with the 31-tone system. His work included teaching acoustics and information technology at the University of Utrecht. He was professor of composition at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart, as well as a guest lecturer at the universities of Adelaide (Australia) and Pittsburgh (USA). He also published a number of books. Henk Badings was the recipient of numerous honours.

The following characteristics generally apply to the period in which both cello sonatas were composed (1929-1940): classical-romantic form, sombre instrumentation and, particularly in the slow movements (such as the superb Adagio of the second cello sonata), an elegiac character: this contrasts strikingly – also in the case of the cello sonatas – with the high degree of playfulness that particularly typifies the contrapuntal passages.
Another characteristic feature of this period is the exploration of the octatonic scale. Badings has emphasised that the Javanese music and the gamelan sounds of his youth always remained in his head and that this influenced him to constantly search for specific pulsating, combined tones and configurations of overtones. We immediately encounter a clear instance of applied octatony in the opening of the first movement (C major) of the second cello sonata. In the left hand of the piano in bar 1 we hear an octavated descending line C – B flat – A with a middle voice G – G flat – E. The cello simultaneously plays the beginning of the main theme (bar 1): E flat – C – E flat – E, supported by a D flat in the right hand of the piano and leading to an octatonic scale (bar 2): C – D flat – E flat – E – F# – G – A – B flat.

To a certain degree the Vier Voordrachtstukken display the intrinsic unity of a four-movement sonata with a Scherzo as second movement and a Lento (Air triste) as third movement. However, the title (which translates as ‘four concert pieces’) is completely justified in view of the light-hearted touch that typifies the work. Also the Air triste, clearly the main focal point, is more nostalgic in character than elegiac.

the two sonatas: see Discography, Dutch Cello Sonatas, CD volume 5



(August 29th 2014)