Van der Stucken, Frank



Eminent American musician; born at Fredericksburg, Texas, his father being a Belgian and his mother German. After the Civil War the family went to Antwerp, Belgium, where Frank became a pupil of Peter Benoit, the celebrated Flemish composer and the director of the Conservatory there. Van der Stucken's first compositions with orchestra, Te Deum, Gloria, and several minor religious pieces, were performed at the Cathedral and St. Jacques Church, also a ballet at the Theatre Royal. In 1878 he studied in Leipsic, where he enjoyed the friendship of Edvard Grieg, Carl Reinecke and many other prominent musicians. Here his first male chorus was sung successfully and Grieg wrote enthusiastically of his fifth opus, consisting of nine songs. In the following years he traveled and studied in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Paris. In 1882 he acted as conductor at the Stadttheatre in Breslau, Silesia. While there he composed a suite on Shakespeare's Tempest, a Festzug in Wagnerian style, Pagina d'Amore, an episode for orchestra, with choruses and songs, and Vlasda, an opera. The next year he was presented to Franz Liszt, who took a great interest in his work and helped him to give a concert of his own compositions at the Grand Ducal Theatre of Weimar. He also conducted performances of his own works at Magdeburg, Rudolstadt, Antwerp and Paris. Having been appointed director of the Arion Singing Society of New York he returned in 1884, after eighteen years abroad. He held this position for eleven years, also conducting the Novelty concerts at Steinway Hall, 1884 and 1885, the Symphonic concerts at Chickering Hall from 1886 to 1888. In 1887 he directed a concert of his own works with the Philharmonic Orchestra in Berlin and a festival of the Music Teachers' National Association at Indianapolis. In 1889 he conducted the concert of American music at the Paris World's Exposition and was delegate to the musical congress of the Paris Exposition in 1900. In 1891 and 1894 he .was director of the Newark (N. J.) and New York Festivals of the Northeast Sangerbund. In 1892 he planned and conducted the famous trip of the New York Arion Society to the principal cities of Europe. From 1895 to 1907 he was musical director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and from 1897 to 1903 dean of the Cincinnati College of Music. He conducted two May Festivals in Indianapolis in 1897 and 1899, and after Theodore Thomas' death he was chosen to direct the Cincinnati May Festivals. Van der Stucken is esteemed not only as a composer, but as conductor, teacher and propagandist. He was the first conductor to give a program made up entirely of American compositions, which took courage and ability. Aside from his works already named are Pax triumphans and William Ratcliff, for orchestra, choruses, and many songs, among which several have attained a wide-spread popularity.