Amersfoort, 2 June 1902
Hilversum, 15 July 1947
 
Sonata
1923
movements:
1. Animato
2. Con dolore e passione
3. Intermezzo (Passionato)
4. Teneramente
duration: about 14′;
publisher: Donemus, Amsterdam 1950.
 
Melody
about 1924/1925
duration: about 3’30”;
autograph;
location: Nederlands Muziek Instituut.
 
Jacques Beers obtained his final diploma at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in 1923. In 1926 he was its first student to graduate with a music history major. He also took composition lessons with Sem Dresden.
In 1927 he continued studying composition in Paris, first with Jean Huré and later, after Huré’s death in 1930, with Nadia Boulanger. Up until the outbreak of World War Two Beers worked in Paris as a music journalist for the Dutch newspaper het Handelsblad and as organist and cantor of the German Evangelical Church. His address book has survived to the present day and bears witness to his extensive network.
It seems fair to claim that the Cello Sonata of 1923 is primarily of interest to us today for the insight it affords us into how the 21-year-old composer sought to find his way in modernism. While his ideas are captivating in themselves, they are often worked out in a somewhat contrived manner. The piano sonata, which was written a few years later and dedicated to Jean Huré, already makes a far more balanced impression.
Beers’s own modern idiom breaks through in his Trois chansons pour danser, composed to poems by Yvan Goll in 1928. The work was published by Heugel, dedicated to Vera Janacopoulos (one of the modernists’ muses, who inspired the poet Jan Engelman to write his cantilena ‘Ambrosia wat vloeit mij aan…’) and was premiered by Marcelle Gerar. The latter introduced Beers to Ravel, who certainly attempted to help him gain entry into the Parisian musical world, as evidenced by his surviving postcard dated February 1930: ‘Please excuse me: I myself am working: 1º on a concerto; 2º on a half concerto (for the left hand); 3º on a symphonic poem: Dédale 39. I leave my house as little as possible. I hope to hear your work with orchestra soon, for I do not doubt that Monteux will be captivated by its musicality and character.’
Other song cycles are Vlan! 6 chants puérils dating from 1930 and the Trois chansons nègres of 1939, the latter dedicated to and once again premiered by Marcelle Gerar. All these songs are permeated with a true ‘esprit gaulois,’ as are the Huit pièces faciles for four-hand piano dating from 1933.
The flute sonata of 1931was dedicated to Elisabeth Sprague-Coolidge and published by Eschig, thanks to Ravel’s advocacy. Despite its many indisputable qualities it leans perhaps a little too obviously on Stravinsky’s neoclassicism. This explains why some prefer the more spontaneous suite for flute and piano of 1939. Other outstanding works are the concerto for soprano, alto saxophone, piano and orchestra (1932) and the superb Missa sine tenore (1934), dedicated to Nadia Boulanger.
During this period Beers submitted Melody to the French bureau for authors’ rights SACEM: it is a gently melancholic work with the simplicity of a chanson (tonic key C minor, modulating to E flat major and concluding with a C major arpeggio) but with some subtle metric displacements. It could serve as a fine intermezzo within certain programmes or perhaps be used as an encore.

Composers

Alkema, Henk

Harlingen, 20 November 1944
Utrecht, 4 August 2011

Appy, Ernest

Den Haag, 25 oktober 1834
Kansas City, 2 augustus 1895

Badings, Henk

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

Bijvanck, Henk

Koedoes (Java), 6 November 1909
Heemstede, 5 September 1969

Bouman, Antoon

‘s Hertogenbosch, 18 October 1854
Wassenaar, 23 March 1906

Bunge, Sas

Amsterdam, 19 July 1924
Utrecht, 17 July 1980

Dispa, Robert

Sint-Pieters-Leeuw (België), 19 September 1929
Hengelo (O), 6 March 2003

Dunkler, Emile

Den Haag, 20 August 1838 (?)
Den Haag (?), 6 February 1871

Frid, Géza

Máramarossziget (Hongarije, thans Roemenië), 25 january 1904
Beverwijk, 13 September 1989

Godron, Hugo

Amsterdam, 22 November 1900
Zoelmond, 6 December 1971

Kes, Willem

Dordrecht, 16 February 1856
München, 22 February 1934

Ketting, Otto

Amsterdam, 3 September 1935
Den Haag, 13 December 2012

Lilien, Ignace

Lemberg (now Lviv, Ukrain), 29 May 1897
Den Haag, 10 May 1964

Mul, Jan

Haarlem, 20 September 1911
Haarlem, 30 December 1971

Osieck, Hans

Amsterdam, 25 January 1910
Bloemendaal, 22 June 2000

Stam, Henk

Utrecht, 26 September 1922
Suawoude, 9 December 2002

Witte, G. H.

Utrecht, 16 November 1843
Essen (D), 3 February 1929