Wegelin, Arthur

WEGELIN, Arthur Willem 


b. Nijmegen, the Netherlands, 5 March 1908


South African composer and violinist of Dutch birth. Wegelin was born into a musical family, and began violin lessons when he was five. Nevertheless, his family sent him to the Technical College of Dordrecht to study chemistry. A sinus operation and lingering illness halted his progress; he then decided he would become a musician. He enrolled at the Muzieklyceum in Amsterdam, took his Netherlands State Diploma in violin and music theory, and became a violinst in the Utrecht City Orchestra in 1933. He remained a member of this orchestra until 1942, giving violin lessons throughout the province of Utrecht at the same time. In addition he was secretary to the local branch of the Toonkunstvereniging (Music Association), he organized concerts for schools, and played in Johann Feltkamp’s Amsterdam Bach Orchestra, and began composing. In 1944, his wife of nine years died, leaving him to look after two children in difficult circumstances. 


After the Second World War, like may other Dutchmen, Wegelin decided to make a new start in South Africa (his sister and brother – the latter a cellist – were already resident there). He lived in Cape Town until 1951, teaching at the College of Music, the Diocesan College and the Technical College in Worcester; he also had a number of private pupils in Robertson. He was invited to be a soloist with the Studio Orchestra of the SABC and the Cape Town City Orchestra, and he formed a violin and piano duo with Stefans Grové. While in Cape Town, Wegelin married again. 


In 1951, Wegelin took up an appointment as a violin lecturer at the newly-founded music department of the University of Potchefstroom, remaining there until 1965 (he was promoted to senior lecturer in 1961). During these years, he also continued to study, taking the degrees of B.Mus (1956) and M. Mus (1957) through the University of South Africa (UNISA). Wegelin published two pioneering Afrikaans books on School Music and Practical Harmony and, in addition, a monograph on the music history of Potchefstroom until 1925, written at the request of Jacques Malan, the editor of the South African Music Encyclopedia. He also became active in the South African Society of Music Teachers (SASMT). In 1959, Wegelin was awarded the Bothner Bursary to investigate school music and new trends in composition in Europe. UNISA also appointed him an examiner for its violin examinations. In 1966, Wegelin became the Director of the new Conservatoire of the University of Port Elizabeth, and Chairman of the Committee for Musical Studies. 


Wegelin initiated a new field of South African research when he completed a preliminary monograph on testing the aptitude for music among high school pupils in Port Elizabeth. After his resignation from the University of Port Elizabeth, the University of Pretoria appointed him as a senior lecturer in composition. Upon his retirement in 1973, he became a Senior Research Official at the Human Sciences Research Council, and completed his research on music aptitude tests (1974-1979). 




Avenent (1934) 


Die kortsluiting, Opera sketch for Orff orchestra and 3 solo voices, with Henk Temmingh (1963)


Vocal Works:



Winter, for mezzo-soprano and piano (1933) 


Eurydice, a song cycle for tenor and piano (1945) 









Die towenares, for soprano and piano (1953)


Drie Totius liedere (‘Three Totius Songs’), for soprano and piano (1964) 


Blare, for soprano and piano (1975)



Damkafeekantate, for unaccompanied choir (1956) 



Vroeg in die oggend 

Double fugue on the wording of the “Notice” at the entrance to the dam. 

Koorstukke, for mixed choir and small orchestra or piano (sung at the inauguration of the Afrikaans Language Monument in 1975: 


Die vaalrooi wind 


Die velkombersie 

Paternoster, for unaccompanied choir (1972). 


Die duur nooi (1972) 


Koorstukke, for female choir, in the serial style (1973): 




Koorstukke, for unaccompanied choir or female choir (1978): 


Variasies op ’n tema (van die olifant) 

Suur druiwe 

Bring my 

Die boodskap van die engel Gabriël, for unaccompanied mixed choir or female choir (adapted from Des Knaben Wunderhorn) 


Isiaah 40, vs 28-31, for unaccompanied mixed choir, with choreographic directives for stage movement, for television, in serial style (1975) 


Koorstukke, for unaccompanied mixed choir (1976): 


Cancion de Jinette 

Noche de luna Ilena 

Pitos, flautas, pitos 

Hadewijch, cantata for 2-part unaccompanied female choir, with fanfares and intermezzos for small orchestra or piano.


Children’s songs:

Nuwe wysies van Oom Willem, songs for primary school, with the accompaniment of Orff instruments (1964)


Works for Orchestra:

Symphonietta, for amateur symphony orchestra. Lost. 


Aria symphonica, for violin and orchestra (1955) 


Adagio, for strings (1960)


Chamber music: 

First string quartet (1936) 


Sonata, for flute and piano (1943) 


Voices from the continent, three pieces ‘based on Bantu rhythms’ 


Melodies, for violin and piano (1963) 


Trio romantico, children’s trio in traditional style (1971) 


Veselweefsels, trio for violin, viola and piano, in serial style (1972) 


One thousand seconds, divertimento for wind quartet, in serial style (1975) 


Sonata, for violin and piano (1978)

This Violin Sonata is dedicated to André Strydom and Elizabeth Rennie who gave the first performance in New York in March 1993.

With sincere thanks en hartlike dankbaarheid; met komplimente aan André van die komponis.

Montagu 29-4-93


Piano Solo:

Sonatina, for piano (1959) 


Dialogo, dodecaphonic solo for unaccompanied violin (1970) 


Anagram, for piano solo, inspired by ‘Sotho mountain people’, in the serial style (1973) 


Braaivleis, narrative piano music for children (1976)


Music for aptitude tests:

Music for the junior and senior music aptitude tests of the Institute for Psychometric Research, Human Science Research Council, Pretoria, 1973-1977

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