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Matthijs Vermeulen


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Matthijs Vermeulen (1888–1967) was a Dutch composer and music journalist.

Vermeulen was born Mat­theus Christia­nus Franciscus van der Meulen on 8th February 1888 in Helmond, the son of a blacksmith. After an accident in his father’s workshop he abandoned the idea of entering the family business, and went to a Jesuit school, which is where he first came into contact with music. At the age of fourteen he wrote a letter to his brother stating that he had had a kind of epiphany: from that moment on he would aspire to be a composer.

He received private tuition from the well-known Dutch composer Alphons Diepenbrock, whose daughter, Thea, later became his second wife.

Apart from composing, Vermeulen was also active as a journalist From 1909 to 1920 he worked as a music critic for several magazines and newspapers, such as De Groene Amsterdammer and De Telegraaf. It was in this capacity that he gained his greatest public notoriety.

Vermeulen’s dissatisfaction with the artistic policies of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and its leader Willem Mengelberg came to a head in November of 1918. After a performance of the Seventh Symphony by Cornelis Dopper, conducted by the composer, Vermeulen stood up and shouted “Long live Sousa!” from the stands of the Concertgebouw (a part of the audience thought that the socialist leader Troelstra, who had attempted a revolution days earlier, was meant, and therefore interpreted Vermeulen’s words as incitement), leading to great turmoil and a flurry of publications. The orchestra considered whether or not they could ban specific journalists from the hall.

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