Forbidden Music Regained

Leo Smit Stichting
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The composers included in this overview all lived and worked in the Netherlands. Their music was banned during World War II.

In the Netherlands, not many composers were able to leave the country in time to escape the Nazi regime. Most people expected the country to remain neutral, like in World War I. When the country was overrun, it was too late. Many were killed in concentration camps, others survived in hiding. Their music ranges from late romantic to impressionist, neoclassical and modernist.

  • Portrait: Daniel Belinfante

    Daniel Belinfante

    (1893 - 1945)

    Daniel Belinfante's manuscripts, donated in 1955 to the Dutch Music Institute in The Hague by his widow Martha Belinfante-Dekker, remained untouched for decades. It is an oeuvre of some 100 compositions consisting of solo concertos, an orchestral …

  • Portrait: Johanna Bordewijk-Roepman

    Johanna Bordewijk-Roepman

    (1892 - 1971)

    Johanna Bordewijk-Roepman was a versatile composer. She wrote for piano, small ensembles, for large orchestra, choirs and even carillon. She largely taught herself composition and displayed an enormous originality. Her music cannot be categorized …

  • Portrait: Henriëtte Bosmans

    Henriëtte Bosmans

    (1895 - 1952)

    Before the war, Henriette Bosmans already enjoyed a well-established reputation in Dutch musical life, especially as a pianist. During the war she was not allowed to appear in public and had to support herself with underground house concerts. Her …

  • Portrait: Fania Chapiro

    Fania Chapiro

    (1926 - 1994)

    Fania Chapiro was born in 1926 in Indonesia (the former Dutch East Indies), on the island of Java, in a carefree musical environment. She had a Russian father, her mother was Dutch. Both parents cherished the exceptional musical talent of their …

  • Portrait: Reine Colaço-Osorio-Swaab

    Reine Colaço-Osorio-Swaab

    (1881 - 1971)

    Reine Colaço Osorio-Swaab started her career as a composer later in life. Initially she wrote mainly songs in a late-Romantic style. After lessons in composition with Henk Badings, her music became more atonal. We know little about how Reine …

  • Portrait: Martha Belinfante-Dekker

    Martha Belinfante-Dekker

    (1900 - 1989)

    Martha Dekker, sister of the author Maurits Dekker, led a clandestine existence in hiding in Rotterdam, survived the war and was awarded for her resistance work. She was known for the so-called SD-performances (Singing and Declamation), the …

  • Portrait: Lex van Delden

    Lex van Delden

    (1919 - 1988)

    During World War II, Alexander Zwaap had to cover his identity by living under an alias. As of 1953, he legally changed his name to Lex van Delden. His life story is impressive considering the traumatic events he experienced in the war years. A …

  • Portrait: Sem Dresden

    Sem Dresden

    (1881 - 1957)

    Despite his German-oriented teachers, Sem Dresden felt attracted early on to modern French music. He developed his own refined and sober style, composing his entire life. Dresden was of pivotal importance to Dutch musical life, working as a …

  • Portrait: Marius Flothuis

    Marius Flothuis

    (1914 - 2001)

    Marius Flothuis led an eventful life. Early on, he was politically aware and left-wing orientated. He lost his job at the Concertgebouw Orchestra on his refusal to register with the Kultuurkamer, a regulatory cultural agency installed by the …

  • Portrait: Joan Fresco

    Joan Fresco

    (1886 - 1964)

    Joan (Johan, Jonas, John, Joen) Fresco was born on 18 August 1886 in The Hague as the son of the Jewish tailor Moses Fresco and Regina Frank. At a young age, he showed already an interest in music. At the Conservatory in The Hague he studied …

  • Portrait: Géza Frid

    Géza Frid

    (1904 - 1989)

    The Hungarian Géza Frid was one of the key figures in the post-war Dutch music world. To escape the dictatorship of his country of origin, he fled to the Netherlands in 1927. He always remained true to the musical language of his roots. As of …

  • Portrait: Jan van Gilse

    Jan van Gilse

    (1881 - 1944)

    Jan van Gilse received his musical education in Germany. His music developed into a synthesis of French impressionism and German romanticism. He became a popular conductor and one of the founders of the Society of Dutch composers (GeNeCo) and …

  • Portrait: Simon Gokkes

    Simon Gokkes

    (1897 - 1943)

    Relatively little is known about the life of Simon Gokkes. Most of his compositions were lost during the war; in the preserved works his preference for Jewish and biblical themes is apparent. From a young age Gokkes worked as a choir and opera …

  • Portrait: Bob Hanf

    Bob Hanf

    (1894 - 1944)

    In his early years, Bob Hanf received drawing lessons from the legendary George Breitner. While studying in Delft he became friends with writers Hendrik Marsman and Simon Vestdijk. Hanf studied violin with Louis Zimmerman and played under the …

  • Portrait: Paul Hermann

    Paul Hermann

    (1902 - 1944)

    Cellist and composer Paul Hermann steered into a new direction, several times during his life, to escape from the claws of anti-Semitism. As a young musician, there was no future for him in Hungary and he set off to Berlin. But in 1933, life in …

  • Portrait: Julius Hijman

    Julius Hijman

    (1901 - 1969)

    Julius Hijman's life centered around contemporary and Dutch music. Touring internationally, he presented the works of Dutch composers, and in the Netherlands he introduced new music from abroad. His own compositions were not always appreciated by …

  • Portrait: Mischa Hillesum

    Mischa Hillesum

    (1920 - 1943)

    The pianist Mischa Hillesum was an extremely musical, sensitive but also mentally unstable personality. Conservatory teachers acknowledged his stunning talents and audiences were thrilled by his performances. Music was his primary necessity, his …

  • Portrait: Carel Jacobs

    Carel Jacobs

    (1909 - 1980)

    Carel Jacobs was an outstanding student at the Nederlandsche R.K. Kerkmuziekschool (Dutch Roman Catholic Church music school), where he studied composition with Johan Winnubst. Feeling unsafe as 'Vierteljude', he gave up his conducting classes …

  • Portrait: Dick Kattenburg

    Dick Kattenburg

    (1919 - 1944)

    Dick Kattenburg was extremely talented. It was obvious that he would enjoy a flourishing career as a violinist for years to come. Even today, some seventy years later, his appealing music immediately touches the heart. A large part of his oeuvre …

  • Portrait: Leo Kok

    Leo Kok

    (1893 - 1992)

    The term ‘homo universalis’ or Renaissance Man originated as a description of individuals, that helped humanity escape the dark ages by virtue of their open minds and tenacious pursuit of new knowledge. Leo Kok was such a polymath in his own …

  • Portrait: Hans Krieg

    Hans Krieg

    (1899 - 1961)

    The life of Hans Krieg, a German who became a Dutch citizen in 1951, was marked by the horrors of Nazi ideology. Before the war, a promising career as a composer and choral and opera conductor was on the horizon, however, when Hitler and the Nazi …

  • Portrait: Hans Lachman

    Hans Lachman

    (1906 - 1990)

    Born in Germany as Heinz Lachmann, Hans Lachman started his musical career in film music and light music. After World War II, which he survived by hiding in the province Limburg, he began composing in a modern classical idiom, building up a …

  • Portrait: Bertus van Lier

    Bertus van Lier

    (1906 - 1972)

    Composer Bertus van Lier was a versatile and determined intellectual. From the start of World World II he upheld his principles against the occupier. During and after the war he maintained this attitude towards those colleagues who were suspected …

  • Portrait: Ignace Lilien

    Ignace Lilien

    (1897 - 1964)

    His hometown Lemberg, in the Ukraine known as Lviv, and in Poland as Lwów, has a history of occupation by shifting powers. This is why the Germans had trouble figuring out Ignace Lilien's real identity; he survived the war with forged documents. …

  • Portrait: Israel Olman

    Israel Olman

    (1883 - 1968)

    Up until World War II, Israel J. Olman had been a celebrated choral conductor and composer. He wrote synagogal music and also music for socialist choirs, to be performed at major singing competitions. His fame, in addition to the fact that he was …

  • Portrait: Wilhelm Rettich

    Wilhelm Rettich

    (1892 - 1988)

    Wilhelm Rettich belonged to that generation of those whose work and life was deeply affected by the First and Second World Wars. Captivity, persecution, hiding and losses scarred his life. In 1933, he emigrated to the Netherlands, where he …

  • Portrait: Nico Richter

    Nico Richter

    (1915 - 1945)

    Almost all Nico Richter’s surviving compositions date from his student days. Most of them are ultrashort, inspired by Webern and Berg. As a student of medicine, he directed the student orchestra MUSA. He joined the resistance, was arrested in …

  • Portrait: Andries de Rosa

    Andries de Rosa

    (1869 - 1943)

    Born into a humble family, Andries de Rosa was trained to become a diamond worker. But as a young man he moved to Paris pursuing a career in music, which was no easy task. He was part of the left-wing literary circles and avant-garde of that …

  • Portrait: Paul Sanders

    Paul Sanders

    (1891 - 1986)

    His musical legacy is modest but nonetheless fascinating. Many of his compositions demonstrate social engagement and sometimes are more explicit: e.g. 'Plan Song' for the Dutch Labour Party (SDAP). With his music reviews in the socialist …

  • Portrait: Samuel Schuijer

    Samuel Schuijer

    (1873 - 1942)

    On December 11, 1942, Samuel Schuijer was murdered in Auschwitz. His home and music school had been plundered by the Nazis. With the loss of his life and destruction of his belongings, all traces of this significant Dutch musician seemed to be …

  • Portrait: Paul Seelig

    Paul Seelig

    (1876 - 1945)

    Paul Seelig lived most of his life on the island of Java, but he made trips to Europe, America, Australia, Japan and Siam. He had a music business in Bandung. In his music he combined Eastern and Western elements. He developed into a renowned …

  • Portrait: Theo Smit Sibinga

    Theo Smit Sibinga

    (1899 - 1958)

    After Smit Sibinga's death, Everard van Royen, director of the Amsterdam Music Lyceum, praised him as a sensitive and skillful composer and “the beauty of the ancient civilization of the Indonesian archipelago which had influenced him during his …

  • Portrait: James Simon

    James Simon

    (1880 - 1944)

    James Simon was a highly intelligent and accomplished pianist, composer and musicologist. He studied philosophy, loved poetry and felt at home with the great German musical tradition. Music was his life. So much so, that his son would call him …

  • Portrait: Leo Smit

    Leo Smit

    (1900 - 1943)

    1900 - 1943 His music sounds thoroughly French, with bright and blithe notes that seemingly flow easily from his pen. In reality, it took many years before his musical ideas were incorporated into his compositions. And however French it may …

  • Portrait: Martin Spanjaard

    Martin Spanjaard

    (1892 - 1942)

    Martin Spanjaard studied composition with Cornelis Dopper in Amsterdam and Friedrich Gernsheim in Berlin. He primarily made a career as a conductor. Most of his compositions date from the beginning of his career, before he was appointed as …

  • Portrait: Zoltán Székely

    Zoltán Székely

    (1903 - 2001)

    Venice, September 4, 1925. At the third festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music, a young Hungarian violinist presented his own Sonata for Solo Violin. The response to his performance was overwhelming: thunderous applause from …

  • Portrait: Marjo Tal

    Marjo Tal

    (1915 - 2006)

    Marjo Tal shunned publicity and rarely gave interviews. As a composer and a pianist she was solely concerned with creating and recreating music, and was subservient to this her entire life. The few magazine articles about her published through …

  • Portrait: Max Vredenburg

    Max Vredenburg

    (1904 - 1976)

    Max Vredenburg is especially known for his pioneering role in the establishment of Jeugd en Muziek Nederland (Youth and Music in the Netherlands). As a music critic, he worked for almost all the Dutch newspapers sharing his great knowledge with …

  • Portrait: Ferenc/Franz Weisz

    Ferenc/Franz Weisz

    (1893 - 1944)

    Franz Weisz (Weisz Ferenc in Hungarian) decided to leave his home country Hungary due to the political situation and overt anti-Semitism. In the Netherlands he enjoyed two decades of freedom and musical possibilities, but then as a Jew, he was …

  • Portrait: Rosy Wertheim

    Rosy Wertheim

    (1888 - 1949)

    Rosy Wertheim was one of the first Dutch women composers who completed a professional music education and gained international acclaim. Next to music, she was deeply committed to social causes. She lived in Paris for seven years, and for some …