Saturday, 9 April 2016


“Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.” - MartinLuther

Pieter Hellendaal (Born: April 1, 1721 –Died; April 19, 1799, aged 78) was an Anglo-Dutch composer, organist and violinist. He was sometimes distinguished with the suffix “The Elder”, after the maturity of his musician son, Pieter Hellendaal the Younger. At age 30, he migrated to England where he lived for the last 48 of his 78 years. He was one of the most famous composers of Dutch origin in the 18th century.

At the age of eleven Pieter was appointed as an organist of the church of St Nicolas in Utrecht. Five years later his family moved to Amsterdam where he studied with Tartini. By 1743 he was playing the violin in public performances and earned the right to publish music by 1744. For a short time Hellendaal was a student at the University in Leiden and even made appearances at The Hague.

By 1751 he had left for London where he was afforded ample opportunites to perfrom and compose. In the performance of Handel’s “Acis and Galatea” Hellendaal performed solo music between acts. The composition “Glory be to the Father” (a canon) received an annual award from The Gentlemen's Catch Club and contemporaneously his six sonatas for violin and continuo were published.

When he was age forty, in 1762, Pieter moved to Cambridge, where the musical enthusiasm in academic circles around the University allowed him to settle down for the rest of his life. First, he was hired as an organist for Pembroke College, Cambridge, and was able to teach, give concerts, and compose. Fifteen years later, in 1777, he was appointed organist in the Chapel of Peterhouse where he worked until he died 37 years later in 1799, at age 78.

The characteristics of Hellendaal’s music included typical conventions of Italian Baroque music. He assiduously followed the practice of thoroughbass with single thematic devices. Violin sonatas followed the slow-fast-fast, three movement structures of Tartini and his concertos were dominated by fugues and liberation of the viola part.

Peter Hellendaal, a.k.a. “The Younger” was born circa 1756 in London and given his father’s name. He became a violinist, clarinetist, and arranger/composer. He actively collaborated in his father’s self-publishing during the 1790s, helping send to market a stream of various musical publications. For example, to serve the needs of parish churches, he selected and arranged for publication pieces from the Elder’s Collection of Psalms and Hymns. This publication also included one of Peter’s own compositions. The last notice of Peter’s life was from 17 April 1801 when he was the soloist in a benefit concert which performed a concerto written by his father. He died later that year, at the age of 45, outliving his father by only two years.

Here are six Cello Sonatas by Pieter Hellendaal the Elder (op. 5, 1780), played by soloist Jaap ter Linden, Ton Koopman, harpsichord continuo and Ageet Zweistra, cello continuo.
No.1 - 0:00
No.2 - 8:28
No.5 - 19:45
No.6 - 31:33
No.7 - 43:52
No.8 - 54:42

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