MARCEL POOT (1901 - 1988)
The Belgian composer Marcel Poot, born in Vilvoorde, Brussels on 7 May 1901. From 1939, he held various positions at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, heading that institution from 1949 until 1966. He was one of the most remarkable musical personalities of his generation of Belgian composers, and left behind an extensive selection of mainly instrumental works for orchestra and chamber ensembles. He died in 1988.
Marcel Poots lively and spirited style of composition reveals youthful mischievousness and an uninhibited lust for life, expressed in lively rhythms and often short melodic themes. Poots music is seldom backed by deep thoughts, but the refined musical taste of the composer protects him from superficiality by an innate sense of balance in the formal build-up of his works, which as a rule are classical in structure. Poots modernism was never dogmatic, but a spontaneous synthesis of old and new, averse to systems and experiments. This is why Poot is in many ways a neo-classicist, even though he never admitted to this or any other style of composition. His preference for classically from schemes is derived from his respect for the important traditions of West European art-music of the past, while the pulse of his own age beats in clearly chiseled and tersely formulated themes. Thematic work and motivistic analysis of these often starkly contrasting elements dictates to him a logical extension of the musical idea, brusquely expressed in biting rhythms and muscular ostinatos. Poots music is mostly abstract, without reference to extra-musical content of meaning, and it emerges, as it were, from the logic of strictly personal musical imagination.
Marcel Poot wrote seven symphonies, at different periods of his career. From the moment that the first three symphonies were composed, however, it appears that the young composer handled the symphonic genre with some hesitation and prudence, while the last four symphonies clearly show that the retired, older Poot felt himself fundamentally attracted to the symphonic form. The First Symphony (1929) is more looked upon as a sort of exercise, in which the young composer follows the example of Ravel, Stravinsky and Richard Strauss, seasoned with the new sounds of the roaring twenties, as they sounded when played by cinema pianists and jazz musicians. The Second (1938) and most surely the Third Symphony (1952), written after an interval of nine and fourteen years respectively, point to an emotional change and a deeper feeling. Poots language has become more dramatic and also more romantic, a trend that is no longer found in the last four symphonies. After eighteen years, the Fourth Symphony (1970) heralded a consecutive series of mature symphonic works, a Fifth (1974), a Sixth (1978) and a Seventh Symphony (1980).