“Music acts as a bridge, music can truly heal” – De Groene Amsterdammer

Jaap van Zuyden at Concertgebouw

© Edward Lee

moment of inspiration. something above that. Jaap van Zuyden is a world star, former violinist, now as conductor, hence his work area is as large as the world. I spoke to him on the phone in Dallas and New York in the United States, twice in Amsterdam, then had to travel abroad again for a week, but now we are here, in his apartment in Amsterdam, so big that his woman Aaltje van Buuren can invisibly disappear into a room Side of the sitting room.

The moment of excitement comes when Jaap van Zuyden records a tune for African-American composer Florence Price (1887-1953), the first black woman to be recognized by major orchestras as an important symphonic composer. Soon he will perform this piece in New York. He also got such a nice grade from the big bandleader. that it Fourth Symphony As per the price, the scribbles and letters in the margin are by Van Zweden. The race car driver leaned on his motorcycle, the jockey face to face with his horse: this is as close as possible to the magic that grips Van Sweden when he flips a few pages. This is his work and his life: this is music.

Will more blacks and people of color come to such a performance? Van Suoyd thinks he’s done more business for African Americans (Tanya Lyon, John Walker) and finally says, “At least the seed has been planted. It takes time, and it doesn’t happen once, though you have to keep in mind that America is getting ahead a lot. On the Netherlands in this regard, including the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

He now talks about his work with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, based in the third largest city in Texas. Texas is once again famous for being a very conservative state. But this is more so in the countryside. I didn’t direct as many black and colored musicians as I had in that orchestra. Everything is connected to everything: the fact that Cuban-American composer Tania Leon won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2021 also ensures that more black and colored musicians appear in an orchestra, and that the audience becomes more diverse.

We’re talking about sponsorship, which has always been essential to America’s cultural sector. “Of course, you also have very wealthy African Americans who have companies under their supervision,” van Zuyden says. “But if they invest their money in something, it will mainly go to sports, because they think the result is immediately visible there. It really takes some time, and in Holland, where sponsorship is a relatively new phenomenon, it will take much longer.

Jaap van Zuyden and sport: This is by no means an impossible combination. As a boy, there were these two passions: football and violin. The love for football was evident: a family that wasn’t very wealthy, never going on vacation, but with Woestduinplein in West Amsterdam just around the corner. We were playing football there with the boys from the neighborhood. With Surinamese and Indonesian boys, and later also with Moroccan and Turkish boys: I have always found this combination quite self-evident.
Well, his father was a musician, and is still a musician: a pianist who performed a lot with gypsy orchestras and later became a teacher at music schools. “As a boy I heard him play English Bach wings every day.”

© Mary Louise Hodge

It all started in that two-room apartment, young Yap’s desire to play the violin. He. She Violin Concerto Van Bruch, he was four or five years old – and immediately sold out. A renter has arrived. My dad said, “It’s a very social tool, you can take it anywhere, you can play with anyone.” But then you had to study. “The great thing is that the people in the neighborhood urged me to study the violin, if I stayed too long on the football field. It was a kind of acting pride, for my father and me.

Van Sued does not believe in black bands. Or the colored or white orchestra

Jaap was nine years old when he became the winner of the Oskar Back Youth Competition, named after the Hungarian-Dutch violinist and music teacher. In 1977, as a late teen, he won the Oscar Bucks National Violin Competition. And right after that time we met. Jaap doesn’t remember it, but I do everything better. Because every year there was a music course in Woudschoten, Zeist, for young musicians, about forty. With Oscar back in his pocket, Jaap has long been the child prodigy, and I remember him in retrospect. I myself play the flute, witty but somewhat modest. I especially remember my surprise that Jaap could not only play the violin superbly, but also play football and speak in Amsterdam. I know that, straight from my Twenty, I can hardly make sense of it. In this sense, the rising global star was by no means a product of the Dutch elite.

At that time, he had long been taught by the famous violin teacher Davina Van Willy. She was a household name that circulated in a whisper during that musical camp. Big move for a boy from West Amsterdam? I took the tram, line 2 from Hoofddorpplein to get to it on the Keizersgracht, a violin case under my arm. I once asked: “What do I hear, what do you have there?” So those were marble balls. I patiently explained that my fiddle would scratch and shrink like this.

Van Willy was stern. “Never a compliment.” But she took full responsibility for the young violinist. Fingers, school times, really the kind of person who grew up with her student. Then the child prodigy left for America to study at the Juilliard School of Music with the famous violin teacher Dorothy Delay. It was very different from Van Wely: finger, how long did I have to study? This was my own business, as long as it looked good. Suddenly, at the age of sixteen, I became completely responsible for myself in New York. But sometimes I received praise during lessons. Americans are generous with that, if they really liked it.

very lonely time, a lot of studying in a dark room with a host family, a view of a blank wall; He played football in Central Park on Sundays, especially with Puerto Ricans, and then tried to hang out with fellow students, especially Koreans and Japanese who played great. Entire families support such talent. I learned more about discipline there. Free weekend? This means studying for eight hours a day.

All this practice and study pays off. He became the youngest music director of the Concertgebouw Orchestra ever, playing with all the world famous orchestras, and in 1995 he decided to take up the lead. This means that he is now standing in front of all those world-famous orchestras, from New York, where he works as conductor, and from San Francisco to Vienna and Berlin. (As we speak, Van Zuyden is called twice: choppy around Brahms and Vienna, and Britten and London.) What kind of winning instinct is this? “I don’t know if this is in someone’s nature.” Looks upwards carefully. When I’m playing or walking, I don’t really think about it. You don’t think all the time: How do I actually walk?

No, Zweiden does not believe in black orchestras. Or a colored or white orchestra. “Music acts as a bridge, and music can truly heal. And we know all these contradictions now. But we must not try to tear talents black and colored like flowers from the ground. The most important thing is that young people of any color can take up classical music as soon as possible.”

Van Soued goes on to discuss the healing effect of music on a different level: he and his wife Altje in particular were co-founders of the Papageno Foundation (1997), which focuses on children and young adults with autism. “And it turns out that music is a real treat here, too.” Their son Benjamin, who is also autistic, lives in the Papageno house, where young people learn to live independently. More and more are coming. Variety doesn’t stop at color, that’s what Van Suede has to say. Music will do more than bridge ethnic differences.

Suddenly a memory comes to him. He’s in New York running there, it’s Barack Obama’s heyday, and someone close to him asks him all the time: “Yap, what do you think of a black president?” “I thought that was very upsetting, because I saw Obama as an American president, not a black or brown man.”

In a sense, the famous conductor of the orchestra, who knows the world like no other, still stands at the football arena at Woestduinplein in West Amsterdam. It was about the way they played football, not their color or background. “It’s about how they play.” Well, that’s what the maestro kept for life.

In a series of monthly interviews, Stephen Sanders talks to a diverse group of people about how the world of classical music can become more inclusive. This series is a collaboration between the green and The Concertgebouw

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