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Harold Van Heuvelen (born c. 1919) is an American composer and musician known principally for his Symphony No. 1 (opus 7), which was composed during World War II and which premiered 67 years later in 2012.[1][2][3]:1[4]

Personal life[]

Van Heuvelen was raised in Huron, South Dakota, the son of Carrie Catherine and Berend Van Heuvelen.[4]:1 Harold Van Heuvelen graduated from Huron High School.[4]:1 He spent a year at Huron College, before enrolling at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, graduating in 1940 with a degree in music.[4]:1[5] He also received a master's degree in violin performance from the University of Michigan.[5]

After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Van Heuvelen enlisted in the United States Army and served as a recruiter during World War II, eventually rising to the rank of colonel.[3][4][6] He spent a further 33 years as an Army reservist.[4]:1

Around 1943, he married Fran Van Heuvelen and later became a music teacher in the Bismarck, North Dakota public schools from 1946 to 1948.[2][3][4]:1 In 2007, after the deaths of their respective spouses, Harold married Alma Van Heuvelen (née Viswat), whom he had met while they were both students at Hope College decades before.[5]

Music[]

As a teenager, Van Heuvelen was trained as a violinist on an Andrea Guarneri instrument from 1694.[4]:1[5] The instrument, which he still owns, has variously been valued at US$50000[5] and US$250000.[4]:1

His Symphony No. 1 evokes American sentiments during World War II in its four movements.[3][4]:1 The first movement is inspired by the worldwide events that led to the war—a period of "wandering and searching".[3][4]:1 The second movement represents the military buildup in the United States prior to its declaration of war.[3] The third movement recalls the conflict itself and the eventual "glorious victory", while the fourth movement signifies the "glorious peace" thereafter, which Van Heuvelen imagined as "a nice wonderful time" in which America believed "war was over for always".[2][3][4]:1

Composition of the symphony began in April 1945, during a period of relative calm following the Allied victory in Europe.[1] While soldiers at Van Heuvelen's New Orleans post waited to hear if they would be sent to Japan, they were instructed merely to "find something to keep [themselves] busy" while on duty.[3] While many of Van Heuvelen's compatriots sketched house plans, the composer committed his symphony to a handwritten, bound volume.[4]:2 Soon after the war, Van Heuvelen showed the finished symphony to Leonard Bernstein, but nothing came of it.[6] For decades, the symphony languished—it was too difficult for Van Heuvelen's high school orchestra to play—until Harold's son Bob Van Heuvelen had it transcribed into electronic form, and recorded on a compact disc.[4]:2

Bob Van Heuvelen was professionally acquainted with United States Senator Kent Conrad, and mentioned the symphony to him; Conrad in turn contacted Senator Carl Levin, who as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee and a connoisseur of classical music, requested a copy of the recording.[4]:2[6] Levin arranged for it to be premiered at Brucker Hall at Fort Myer, Virginia on November 4, 2012, by the U.S. Army Band under the direction of Major Tod Addison.[2][3][4]:1[6] Although Addison had initially worried that the symphony would not be particularly good, he abandoned those reservations upon seeing the score, later describing the piece as "tonal", "accessible", "broad" and "neo-romantic" in the manner of Brahms.[6] With Harold Van Heuvelen in attendance—in his newly tailored, World-War-II-era uniform—the symphony was premiered to a standing ovation.[6]

Other compositions by Harold Van Heuvelen include a violin concerto.[4]:2

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Antolini, Tina (November 10, 2012). "A Veteran's Standing Ovation, 70 Years In The Making". NPR Music website. Washington, DC, U.S.A.: National Public Radio. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2F2012%2F11%2F10%2F164816962%2Fa-veterans-standing-ovation-70-years-in-the-making&date=2012-11-14. Retrieved November 14, 2012. "Van Heuvelen finished the symphony and even got it in front of Leonard Bernstein a few years after the war. But he wound up getting a job teaching music in the public schools of Bismarck, N.D." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Monacelli, Emily (November 12, 2012, 18:22 (EST)). "Kalamazoo World War II veteran 'just elated' to hear his symphony performed 67 years after composing it". Kalamazoo, MI, U.S.A.: Advance Digital. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mlive.com%2Fnews%2Fkalamazoo%2Findex.ssf%2F2012%2F11%2Fkalamazoo_world_war_ii_veteran.html&date=2012-11-14. Retrieved November 14, 2012. "But the 93-year-old Kalamazoo resident did just that Nov. 4, when the symphony he wrote in April 1945 as an Army recruiter was played by the U.S. Army Orchestra at its Veterans Day Concert in Ft. Myer, Va." 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Gehring, Brian (November 1, 2012, 15:39). "Mr. Van Heuvelen's opus". Bismarck Tribune website. Bismarck, ND, U.S.A.: Bismarck Tribune. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fbismarcktribune.com%2Fnews%2Flocal%2Fmr-van-heuvelen-s-opus%2Farticle_1bfd9db4-2464-11e2-bb21-001a4bcf887a.html&date=2012-11-14. Retrieved November 14, 2012. "Van Heuvelen said it took him three months to write the symphony, a four-movement piece that details the story of WWII from beginning to end." 
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 Callison, Jill (October 30, 2012, 12:38). "Callison: At long last, veteran's symphony comes to life". The Argus Leader website. Sioux Falls, SD, U.S.A.: Gannett. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.argusleader.com%2Farticle%2F20121030%2FCOLUMNISTS0113%2F310300010%2FCallison-long-last-veteran-s-symphony-comes-life&date=2012-11-14. Retrieved November 14, 2012. "Into it he poured a country’s emotions: apprehension as Adolf Hitler began running rampant in Europe, devastation after Pearl Harbor was attacked, elation in the victory." 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Barr, Jeff (July 19, 2012, 14:05 (EDT)). "Long-lost friends reunite in marriage, music". MLive website. Kalamazoo, MI, U.S.A.: Advance Digital. Archived from the original on November 19, 2012. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.mlive.com%2Fkzgazette%2F2008%2F07%2Flonglost_friends_reunite_in_ma.html&date=2012-11-19. Retrieved November 19, 2012. "After graduating from Hope College in 1940 with a music degree, Harold Van Heuvelen earned a master's degree in violin performance from the University of Michigan. He then returned to his western roots of Montana and North Dakota." 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Antolini, Tina (November 10, 2012). "A Veteran's Standing Ovation, 70 Years In The Making [Transcript]". NPR Music website. Washington, DC, U.S.A.: National Public Radio. Archived from the original on November 19, 2012. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2Ftemplates%2Ftranscript%2Ftranscript.php%3FstoryId%3D164816962&date=2012-11-19. Retrieved November 19, 2012. "I was pretty worried, to tell you the truth. And thankfully, as soon as I looked at it, it was tonal. It was accessible. It was very neo-romantic. And I think I said the word Brahms right away, because it was just so broad." 

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