The crusades were a series of military campaigns that took place during the 11th through 13th centuries. Originally, they were Roman Catholic endeavours to recapture Jerusalem from the Muslims, but developed into territorial wars. Besides the recon quest of Jerusalem important aims were: to keep the Islamic power outside of Europe, to reunite the Byzantine (oriental) Christians with the Roman Catholic church and to extend of the European sphere of influence to the east. The best-known crusade is that of 1096, which was organised after an appeal of pope Urban II ("God wills it.") and was commanded by Godfrey of Bouillon. After that another 8 crusades were organised.
Crusade describes the journey of a young crusader, who leaves his home to fight for his religion, but of course also to seek adventure and fame. In a metaphorical sense however, it can also be considered as describing life in general.
The work opens with an Intrada, in which the composer, Rieks van der Velde, introduces the opening notes of the main theme (the melody of psalm 24) in a playful manner.
We meet the hero of this tale as he bids his family farewell. Of course he goes through some difficult moments here, but adventure calls and soon he and his comrades are on their way. In a cheerful mood he rides onwards, dreaming of distant countries, chivalrous fighting and precious treasures.
The journey proves to be a chain of exuberant and more sedate moments. While bravura and spunk prevail, surely all that glisters is not gold. Memories of the quiet life at home come up.
Moreover, not everything that crosses his path meets his highly elevated expectations. Worse still: from time to time he is confronted with considerable setbacks.
Gradually the naivety of the young man makes place for a more serious mood. In the exuberant passages dissonants creep in. In the sedate parts the mood changes from inner peace into bitterness and finally in dismay. The reality of the battlefield affects him deeply.
After a period of mourning and religious contemplation he goes through a phase that seems like an inner battle between optimism and disillusionment. Gradually he learns to accept life as it is.
The work finishes in a triumphant march based on the hymn-tune. Optimism has eventually obtained the upper hand and as a purified and vigorous man the knight returns in triumph!
Although Crusade was composed almost completely in minor keys, Rieks van der Velde has succeeded in giving the piece an optimistic character. It is as if he wants to show us that we can make out for ourselves how to experience the so called certain facts.
|Composer||Rieks van der Velde|