Willem de Fesch

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Willem de Fesch (who is often listed as Fesch, Willem de) was one of the most important and influential composers of the Netherlands, bringing the Italian concerto style to the Low Countries, but them…
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Artist Biography by

Willem de Fesch (who is often listed as Fesch, Willem de) was one of the most important and influential composers of the Netherlands, bringing the Italian concerto style to the Low Countries, but them moved to England, where he made less of an impression.

His parents were Louis de Fesch and Johann Massbragt, about whom nothing is known, not even their occupations. It would not be surprising if they were a musical family, for Willem's older brother, Peter, was most likely the Magister musices in Leiden. In 1711, Willem married Maria Anna Rosier. Since her father was a violinist and teacher who was the concertmaster of the court of Elector of Cologne, there is reason to think de Fesch was his pupil. By that time, he had made a name for himself in Amsterdam, making important appearances there and in Antwerp as a concert violinist. In 1725, he became concertmaster of Antwerp Cathedral. He kept the job for six years until he was fired for sloppiness, meanness, and generally not being able to get along with others.

He moved to London and stayed and worked there the rest of his life. He apparently wrote oratorios, but none of these have survived; played as an orchestral violinist; and sometimes conducted. His works written in Holland show a consistent development of skill and in absorbing the latest musical currents from Italy. They culminate in the set of sonatas he published as Opus 8 in London, which were apparently begun in Antwerp. These are in the new galant style popular in Italy, simpler in texture, more expressive, and above all more brilliant. They were influenced most by Vivaldi.