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the forgotten violin concerto – part 4: Ernest Schuyten

April 2, 2016, 5:17 AM · In my research about the compositions for violin concertante of the 20th century I focus on different aspects of the topic: data, recordings, scores and also original manuscripts. This all builds a „Violin Gathering Point“ and can be studied in detail on my website www.tobias-broeker.de. This time I would like to introduce the violin concerto by Ernest Schuyten.

Ernest Schuyten is a name you most likely never stumbled upon in your life. But this ignorance of Ernest Schuyten is deplorable, because he is an important figure in musical life of New Orleans and even the US.

Ernest Schuyten was born 1881 in Belgium. He studied violin and composition at the conservatories of Brussels and Antwerp and emigrated to the US in the early 1910s. Ernest Schuyten settled in New Orleans and immediately took part of the musical life there. He founded and conducted different orchestras and in 1919 also founded a music conservatory. This conservatory was later incorporated into the Loyola University and formed the College of Music and Fine Arts. Ernest Schuyten became the first dean of the Music College and under his leadership the college was the first in the US to offer a Bachelor of Music for voice or an instrument.

Ernest Schuyten always composed music for all genres during his lifetime. But in 1969 his successful life became a fateful twist by the name of Hurricane Camille. The hurricane hit the New Orleans area and killed the son and grandson of Ernest Schuyten together with most of his musical papers. The granddaughter of Ernest Schyuten told me that the loss of the two men was so tragic for Ernest Schuyten, that he didn't care about his musical compositions and never returned to composing music or to restore the lost compositions. He died a few years later in 1974 in Louisiana.

Due to the Hurricane Camille incident only a few compositions of Ernest Schuyten have survived. I was lucky to find the only existing manuscript of the Violin concerto by Ernest Schuyten some time ago. The work was written around the year 1932 and the composer intended to write a typical three movement concerto. During the compositional process Ernest Schuyten decided to cut down the work to just one movement. He omitted the existing second and never started a third movement. So finally the work is called „Violin concerto in one movement only“.
The work received its world premiere most likely in December 1932 by Ella de los Reyes (violin), the Loyola College of Music Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the composer. No other performance of this work could be evidenced.


Ernest Schuyten in front of the Loyola College of Music Symphony Orchestra. The concertmaster on the left is Ella de los Reyes.

The concerto is scored for a full symphonic orchestra and is still in the Romantic idiom. The solo violin plays nearly all the time of the concerto and forms and develops the melodies while the orchestra gently supports the work of the soloist. The concerto is a beautiful example of the Romantic violin concerto from the end of this era and surely will find admirer nowadays. So Gil Shaham get your violin ready!

The full score of the work can be found at my website for gratis download here.

You can find more on Ernest Schuyten at his Wikipedia article here which I wrote as well.


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