In 1945, World War II soldier Harold Van Heuvelen wrote a symphony.
"We just practically sat there without anything to do," Heuvelen told NPR of his position as a recruit instructor at the end of the war. "So I decided to write a symphony."
This week, the 93-year-old retired colonel in the Army Reserve heard his "Symphony No. 1, Opus 7" performed for the first time, at the U.S. Army Orchestra's Veterans Day concert — and received a standing ovation almost 70 years in the making.
"It opened up a new world for me at age 93," Van Heuvelen told the Kalamazoo Gazette after hearing his four-movement piece performed. "I'm probably one of the most happy 93-year-olds in the country."
Heuvelen's son Bob, a former chief of staff, discovered the opus in the early 2000s and made it his mission to have the work performed. He contacted Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who then petitioned the Army on his behalf.
Major Tod. A. Addision conducted the orchestra.
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