(contributed by Drs. J.E.F. Röntgen <jrontgenwirehub.nl>)
Julius Röntgen was born in Leipzig, the son of a Dutch father, Engelbert Röntgen, who was the primarius of the Gewandhausorchestra, and a German mother, Pauline Klengel, the daughter of a famous musician, Moritz Klengel, director of music in Leipzig. His first pianostudies were given by Carl Reinecke, composer and director of the Gewandhausorchestra. In his early compositions Reinecke’s influence is clearly noticeable, as well as the influence of Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms. As a 14-year-old boy, Röntgen went as a real ‘Wunderknabe’ to Weimar, where he was introduced to Liszt, the famous piano player, and he played some of his own compositions: an a-flat preludium and a c-flat preludium and fuge. Liszt was very impressed and for the afternoon Röntgen got an invitation to attend a soiree in Liszt’s house.
Later on Röntgen went to Munich, where he studied piano with Franz Lachner, a friend of Franz Schubert’s. In 1878 Röntgen got an invitation to become a pianoteacher at the Amsterdam School of Music, the later Amsterdam Conservatory. He had a successful career in Amsterdam. He was admired as a pianist, especially in chamber music and as an accompanist of singers. In 1884 he was, together with the Dutch composers Frans Coenen and Daniël de Lange, the founder of the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music, which he left in 1924 as director. Folk music became his great inspiration due to the influence of his great Norwegian friend Edvard Grieg. As an editor of Grieg’s music he completed the Second String Quartet in F major, of which Grieg wrote two movements in 1891 but which he never completed. After Grieg’s death Röntgen completed this work after a correspondence with Nina Grieg.
In Amsterdam Röntgen made the headlines as director of orchestras and especially choirs. But as an accompanist of the great violinist Carl Flesch and the cellist Pablo Casals he achieved his greatest successes. In international concert life Röntgen made great concert tours with the famous singer Johannes Messchaert. In 1930 Röntgen received a honorary doctorate at Edinburgh University from his friend and musicologist Donald F. Tovey, to whom he dedicated two piano-concertos, which will be recorded on CD next autumn in the ‘Donemus’-Series.
After his retirement Röntgen made great compositions in his new home in Bilthoven, built by his son the architect Frants Röntgen, called ‘Gaudeamus’. This house played a big role in Dutch modern musical life in the years after the Second World War.
Julius Röntgen’s oeuvre comprises over 800 compositions in all classical genres. More than twenty symphonies (merely in one or two movements), operas, scores of solo-concertos and orchestral works, hundreds of songs, more than a hundred piano pieces, duos, trios, quartets, quintets and a sextet for strings. He was always quite open about the influences of other composers on his music: once he said: "Now I’m very proud of this new composition of mine, in which Debussy’s influence is so obvious." With the Australian composer and pianist Percy Grainger he made several country songs and compositions. In the controversy between Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahms he chose the side of the latter. There was a sort of ‘Hassliebe’ for Wagner, whose compositions he studied very well. Röntgen also experimented with the modern music style of the new times: he even wrote a bitonal symphony, which was never published.
Röntgen married two times: his first wife was Swedish, Amanda Maier, known as a violinist and composer and a study-friend of Röntgen’s in Leipzig. After her death he married a Dutch woman, Abrahamina des Amorie van der Hoeven, a well-known piano player and teacher as well.
The huge Röntgen Archives are stored in the Music Department of the Municipal Museum of The Hague, Holland. Röntgen had six sons, five of whom became dedicated and well-known Dutch musicians.
- Six Early Netherlands Dances, opus 46. Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Willem Mengelberg. Philips recording of 10 November 1940. CD Aspects of Music from the Netherlands, CD 7.
- Fantasy for piano and violin, opus 24. Joan Berkhemer, violin and Rob Mann, piano. Aspects of Chamber Music from the Netherlands. BFO, Radio Nederland Wereldomroep, CD A 1.
- Sonata for piano and violocello in A-flat, opus 41 (1900). Godfried Hoogeveen, violoncello and Edith Grosz, piano. Aspects of Chamber Music from the Netherlands. BFO, Centre of Netherlands Music, CD A 2.
- Theme and Variations. Opus 17 in B-flat major (1878). Piano à quatre mains by Wyneke Jordans and Leo van Doeselaar. Aspects of Chamber Music of the Netherlands. BFO, Centre of Netherlands Music, CD A 14.
- Sonata No. 1 for Oboe and Piano (1918). Maarten Karres, oboe and Ariane Karres, piano. Erasmus Muziek Producties, CD WVH093.
- Sonata in E Major, opus 40. Elisabeth Small, violin and Alan Mandel, piano. Premier Recordings, New York. CD PRCD 1037.
- Three Motets. Wider den Frieden. Klage-, Anklage- und Trostgesang (1920); Gleichwie die grünen Blätter auf einem schönen Baum (1929); Kommt her zu mir, alle die ihr mein begeeret (1929). Netherlands Chamber Choir, conductor Uwe Gronostay. NM-Classics. CD 92039.
- Serenade for Seven Wind Instruments, opus 14, in A major (1876). Viotta Ensemble. NM-Classics. CD 92035.
- CD-Sampler Julius Röntgen 1855-1932. (Serenade, op. 14; Theme with Variations, op. 17; Motets;) new release: Symphony in C-sharp (1930): Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra, conductor Jac. van Steen. NM-Special. CD 92096.
- Edvard Grieg. Complete String Quartets. With the String Quartet No. 2 in F major, finished by Julius Röntgen. Raphael Quartet: Ronald Hoogeveen violin, Ramy Koch violin, Zoltan Benyacz viola and Henk Lambooij, cello. Olympia Explorer Series, CD OCD 432.
- De Pianola in Nederland. Ludwig van Beethoven. Andante con variazioni. Six Variations in F to a Theme of Beethoven himself, opus 34. This roll played by Julius Röntgen. Rol: Philips No. 131. Erasmus Muziek Producties. CD WVH172.
- Sonata for violocello and piano in B-flat major, Opus 3. Claudius Herrmann, violoncello and Saiko Sasaki, piano. DIVOX CDX 29407. (Switzerland) Produced in 1997 in cooperation with Swiss Radio DRS-2. Appassionata AG, Basel
- (1) Concerto D major for Pianoforte and Orchestra. Opus 18. (Allegro - Larghetto espressivo - Finale: Allegro con Brio). (1879) (2) Two Concertos for Pianoforte and Orchestra (Composed 1929-1930). Folke Nauta, Pianoforte with the "Orkest van het Oosten", conducted by Jurjen Hempel. Donemus, Amsterdam, 1997. (= Donemus, Jubilee Series Composers’ Voice CV 64.)
- From "Schemerliedjes" (Frederik van Eeden, text): Zing, mijn lieveke, zing; and Eens heb ik de dalende zon gevraagd. Frans Fiselier, baritone and Han Louis Meijer, piano. Ed. Vrienden van het lied. Produced by Sweetlove Records (Holland) SLR 9401255.
- Prometheus. Tom Sol, baritone and Frans van Ruth, piano. Ed. Vrienden van het Lied. Produced in 1994 by Sweetlove Records (Holland) SLR 9401255.
- Klavierwerke zu vier Händen. Works for Piano Duet. Kölner Klavier-Duo/Cologne Piano Duo: Elzbieta Kalvelage and Michael Krücker. Koch-Schwann 3-1841-2. Produced in coproduction with Bayerischer Rundfunk München,1998.
- Chamber Music: Pianotrio in C minor, opus 50, nr. 4.; Sonata in F sharp minor, opus 20 for violin and piano; and Sonata nr. 5 opus 56 in B minor for violoncello and piano. Alexander Kerr, violin, Gregor Horsch, violoncello and Sepp Grotenhuis, piano. NM Classics CD 92089. Produced in 2000 in cooperation with Radio Netherlands World Service.
- Brieven van Julius Röntgen. Verzameld door A. Röntgen - des Amorie van der Hoeven. Amsterdam, H.J. Paris, 1934.
- Hanna de Vries (Stavland). Julius Röntgen og Edvard Grieg. Et musikalsk vennskap. Bergen (Norway) Alma Mater Forlag AS, 1994.
- Averkamp, A. - In memoriam Julius Röntgen (1855-1932) // Tijdschrift der Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis deel XIV (1935), pp. 44-47.
- Paap, W. - Herdenking van Julius Röntgen // Mens en Melodie jrg. 2 (1947), p. 293-298.
- Dresden, S. - In memoriam Julius Röntgen 9 mei 1855 - 13 september 1932 // De Muziek jrg. 7 (1932), pp. 1-4.
- Benestad, Finn und Hanna de Vries Stavland. Edvard Grieg und Julius Röntgen. Briefwechsel 1883-1907. Utrecht, Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, 1997. (in press)