Prologue, variations and epilogue on an Afrikaans folk song

Composition Date: 1998
Revision Date: 1998
Duration: 00:24:00
Genre: Keyboard, Piano, One Keyboard, Two Hands


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Piano
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Programme Note:
Inspiration for this work was drawn from my Afrikaans cultural heritage. The Afrikaans folk song Jan Pierewiet, which forms the basis for the piece, has its origins in Europe and may have been imported to South Africa by the 17th century French Hueguenots (as Jean Pirouette?). Its simple yet elegant character is reminiscent of the Minuet, but particularly of the Polish Mazurka. In some German and American folk song albums the tune is described as Varsovienne (Warsaw Dance). As an adopted Afrikaans folk song and dance it is deeply ingrained in the Afrikaans culture and used at folk dance events.

In this arrangement the folk song becomes a symbol and somewhat of a reflection of some key events in Afrikaans cultural history - not as "objective history" or a descriptive "program", but rather as a way Afrikaners emotionally experienced their history (which naturally differs from the way other cultural groups may view it). The quest to preserve its own culture through political independence has been one of the dominant factors in their history. Rather than attempting to describe events, Reflections alludes to the character of the events as it affected the Afrikaner people. The song undergoes variation in character and is combined with other musical motifs serving as complementary or conflicting cultural symbols.

Synopsis of the Afrikaner's struggle for cultural survival - conflicts but also acceptance of rivals (British Empire and African Nationalism).
Slightly stylized version of the folk song.
1. De Zilveren Vloot (early Dutch settlement, in South Africa, 17th century).
2. Thanksgiving (Dutch Reformed Worship).
3. Nostaligic Celebration (an evening of folk dancing).
4. Annexation (British annexation of the Cape, end of 18th century).
5. Trek to the North (the Great Trek of the 1830's, the hardships and battles, culminating in the establishment of the two independent Boer Republics.
6. The Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902, won by the British following the destruction of the Boer farms and the establishment of concentration camps in which 26,000 women and children died).
7. Empty Cradle (aftermath of the war): the folksong as an unwinding musical box.
8. Awakening (the growth of Afrikaner nationalism following the establishment of the Union of South Africa, 1910).
9. The Cosmopolitan (exposure of the Afrikaner to American and other international influences through travel and the movie culture at a time of cultural and entrepreneural success - symbolized by the Ragtime/Blues character of the folk song).
10. Illusions in a world apart (the era of the Cold War and institutionalized "Apartheid"; the contrast between white and black living conditions and experience of "reality"; mistaking the ideological dream of "racial harmony by means of separate states and homelands" for reality (whites); the groundswell of black anger, resistance, armed struggle and explosive violence that brings Apartheid to an end).
11. Realization (the end of the Afrikaner dream of cultural and political independence).
Adapting in "the New South Africa" - concilition and cooperation but also anxiety and uncertainty regarding the future of Afrikaans culture in South Africa (a somewhat chromatic and quasi-fugal treatment of the folksong).

Credits: Jacobus Kloppers
Creator: Jacobus Kloppers
Subject: Afrikaans cultural heritage | South African nationalism
Date Created: 1998


  • Call Number:
  • MI 2110 K66ref
  • Genre:
  • Keyboard, Piano, One Keyboard, Two Hands
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • July 15, 1999
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • Score
    48 Pages
    Height: 30 cm
    Width: 23 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • For piano.
    Ms (photocopy) ; master copy in CMC Toronto.
    Duration: 24:00
    Premiere: Oct. 23, 1998, King's University College, Edmonton, AB; Colleen Athparia, piano.
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