C. Gyselings: Joseph Jongen, sa vie, son oeuvre pour piano (diss., U. Libre de Bruxelles, 1980)
J.S. Whiteley: Joseph Jongen and his Organ Music (Stuyvesant, NY, 1997)
JOHN SCOTT WHITELEY
Jongen, (Marie Victor Justin) Léon
(b Liège, 2 March 1884; d Brussels, 18 Nov 1969). Belgian composer and pianist, brother of Joseph Jongen. He studied at the Liège Conservatoire and was joint organist of St Jacques, Liège (1898–1908). Thereafter he toured Europe with a piano quartet and settled in Paris, becoming accompanist to the tenor Imbart de la Tour. In 1913 he won the Belgian Prix de Rome with the cantata Les fiancés de Noël. He toured South America, and after World War I he visited north Africa. In 1925 he began a period of nine years in East Asia, and became conductor of the Tonkin Opera, Hanoi (1927–9). On his return to Belgium he was appointed professor of fugue at the Brussels Conservatory, where he succeeded his brother as director (1939–49). He was elected to the Royal Academy of Belgium in 1945 and was also a member of the Royal Academy in London. In 1956 he became co-director of the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth, and in 1963 his Violin Concerto was set as the test piece for the competition of this organization.
Jongen’s operatic works reveal his fiery temperament; his choral writing adroitly points the irony of the texts, some drawn from La Fontaine. Travel recollections led to the Ravel-like exoticism of such orchestral works as Malaisie, and the Sept esquisses for piano show how close Jongen was to French Romanticism. However, the song cycle Provinciales reveals the more eccentric, mischievous side of his personality.
Stage: L’Ardennaise (action lyrique, 2, T. de Méricourt), 1909; Le rêve d’une nuit de Noël (incid music, 3, J.F. Fonson), 1917, Paris, Champs-Elysées, 18 March 1918; Roxelane (ballet, C. Farrère), 1920; Thomas l’Agnelet (roman musical, Farrère), 1922–3, BRM, 14 Feb 1924; Musique pour un ballet (scenario, J.J. Etchevery), 1954, BRM, 1954; Le masque de la mort rouge (ballet, E.A. Poe), 1956, BRM, 1956; Les cinq filles de Benjamin (operetta, 3, L. Payen)
Orch: Etude symphonique pour servir de prélude à l’Oedipe roi, 1908; Suite provençale, chbr orch, 1926; Malaisie, suite, 1935; Prélude, intermezzo et final sur le nom d’Ysaÿe, pf, orch, 1938; Fantaisie, pf, orch, 1938; Rhapsodia belgica, vn, orch, 1948; 4 miniatures, 1949; Improvisation en mode lyrique, 1955 [after Lassus]; Vn Conc., 1962
Choral: Les fiancés de Noël, S, T, B, children’s chorus, 1913; Trilogie des psaumes, 4vv, orch, 1937–9; 7 fables de La Fontaine, female/children’s vv, pf, 1944–5
Song cycle: Provinciales, 1v, pf
Kbd: 7 esquisses, pf, 1913, orchd 1943; Campéador, pf, 1931, orchd 1934; In memoriam regis, org, 1934; Divertissement sur un thème de Haydn, pf qt, 1955
Chbr works, film scores, brass band works, songs
MSS in B-Bcdm
Principal publishers: Bosworth, Brogneaux, CeBeDeM, Durand, Lemoine, Schott