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[#125] December 13, 2021 Unknown | Wind Orchestra | Grade 6 | 15’-20’ | Symphony, sacred music

American composer, arranger and conductor Alfred Reed

On the 100th anniversary of the birth of French composer and conductor Désiré Dondeyne, we have chosen his Symphonia Sacra as Composition of the Week.

“An important work, inspired by Gregorian themes, especially those of the Holy Week, cast in four movements: “Entry and aspersion”, “Torments and prayers”, “Litanies”, and “The salutary truth”.

A slow introduction incites the faithful to the prayer, followed immediately by the aspersion.

The themes of the third movement are borrowed from the liturgies of Holy Saturday; they include the evocation of the saints and the Kyrie eleison. The main theme of the last movement, which follows constantly changing tonal path, is supported by a brass choir. The piece concludes with a prayer, followed by a litany: "Lord, listen to us!" in an orchestral crescendo that opens onto spiritual light.” Program notes by Les orchestres à vents.

Four percussionists are needed. The duration of the work is 17 minutes and it is edited by Molenaar editions.

Désiré Dondeyne studied music at the conservatory in Lille and beginning in 1936 at the Conservatoire de Paris. He obtained degrees in clarinet, chamber music, harmony, fugue, counterpoint and composition. From 1939 to 1953, he was the solo clarinet with the Musique de l’air (the French Air Force Band). From 1954-79, he was conductor of La Musique des Gardiens de la Paix (the Paris metropolitan police band).

Dondeyne expanded the works of the wind orchestra by restoring historical works, through his own compositions and with his personal encouragement to other fellow composers, such as Jacques Castérède, Louis Durey, Germaine Tailleferre, Serge Lancen or Ida Gotkovsky.

With the Musique des Gardiens de la Paix he traveled throughout Europe and made over 100 recordings and winning several awards.


Other works for winds by Dondeyne:

  • Ballade pour une fête populaire (12’, Molenaar)

  • Deux Danses (12’, Molenaar)

  • In memoriam Stravinsky (7’, Molenaar)

  • Symphonie Nr 4 (27’, Molenaar)

Interview to Desiré Dondeyne by our former president Francis Pieters (French)

Article on Désiré Dondeyne by Francis Pieters (French)


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