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Piano improvisations on Jheronimus Bosch' The Garden of Earthly Delights

Piano improvisations

on Jheronimus Bosch’

The Garden of Earthly Delights

Performed by Eugenie Geurts


Music and video recorded on 22 October 2015
in the former house and workshop of the medieval
painter Jheronimus Bosch (1450-1516)
The city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

This production is a co-creation of:


For information about this video contact

Video:  ©  2015 Eugenie Geurts & Ralf van de Veerdonk
Text below:  © 2016 Dr. Marcel Stakenborg


The painting


Jheronimus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights. Circa 1480-1490, oil on panel.
Source: Museo Nacional del Prado, via Wiikimedia commons.


The video


The Dutch musician-composer Eugenie Geurts and cinematographer Ralf van de Veerdonk decided to combine their talents to create a unique video “Piano Improvisation on Bosch’ painting The Garden of Earhtly Delights”. This powerful symbiosis of musical and visual images revives the spirit of Jheronimus Bosch.


Secret messages and symbolism


4 Scenes 1 Jheronimus Bosch

Like all the works of Bosch, this video is loaded with symbolism and secret messages. The video starts in the “inner sanctum” of Bosch world (scene 1): the painter’s former house and workshop in the mediëval city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. God and good are represented by the musical theme played by the right hand of the pianist. In the beginning when we see God with Adam and Eve in heaven (scene 4). The open and consonant musical theme played by the right hand is dominant. Then the devil starts to rear his ugly head in the dissonant bass theme played by the left hand. As we continue our journey along the 3 panels going from left to right, the dominance of the right hand music is challenged and gradually taken over by the left hand (scene 6). The devil, depicted by the eye level video shot of the owl in the beginning of the video (scene 2 and 5), is omnipresent and observes everything that happens on this planet. The low angle arc shot of the Bosch statue (scene 3) introduces the painter who warns humanity against the power of evil with his paintings.


The devil is in the details


4 Scenes 2 Jheronimus Bosch

At the end of the video, Bosch’ apocalyptic vision of a burning city (scene 7) transforms into an wonderful areal drone shot of the majestic St. John’s Cathedral, lit and enlightened by the rising morning sun (scene 8). God and good will always triumph over evil, the viewer may think at the fade out. However the observant viewer with “ear for detail” may notice that the three fading rings of the church bell, representing the “Sancta Trinitias” (Holy Trinity) played by the left hand are actually tritones! A tritone is dissonant interval between two pitches, nowadays known as the augmented fourth, witch is used frequently to avoid traditional tonality both in Jazz music (e.g. Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman) and in classical music (e.g. Mahler and Franz Liszt). In the medieval times the use of tritones, also known as  the “diabolus in musica” (the devil in music), was strictly forbidden by the catholic church, who controlled the musical rules in those days. The tritone was considered sexual and would bring out the devil. Rumor has it that people were executed for writing and using the interval. Indeed, the devil is in the details again. Not only in Bosch’ paintings but also in this amazing video.



Connected by Jheronimus


Eugenie en Ralf - kopieEugenie and Ralf did not know each other until recently. Early September 2015 they met “by coincidence”. More precisely, it was the art of Jheronimus Bosch that brought these two artists together. It was love at first sight. It quickly turned out that they had many things in common: a relentless passion for perfection and a zest for creating art that captures the audience by going beyond the ordinary.

The contrast between the serene and the obscene in the Bosch’ Garden of Earhtly Delights provides a powerful source for inspiration, improvisation and creative energy,” says Eugenie. “I literally submerged myself in this extraordinary painting. I went from the role of observer to becoming a participant in the painting. This process evoked many emotions inside me, which I translated into musical images in the form of spontaneous piano improvisations.”

“Just like Jheronimus I love to be inspired by our hometown, the wonderful city of ’s-Hertogenbosch,” Ralf continues. “When I was offered the unique possibility to make video recordings in the former house and workshop of the painter, I immediately got a ton of ideas for fantastic shots. This flow of visually rich footage was then topped by the passionate music from Eugenie.”


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