WWII left behind a unique and impressive body of music. On this page, you will find a limited selection of works that were produced during, or in response to, WWII, or are relevant to this site for other reasons.
This selection is not representative and contains only streams that we can provide to visitors free of charge [see also the selection of free streams on the Dutch site]. Various rights apply to the majority of the relevant works; as a result, we can only offer these for a fee on the Dutch-language website. On the Dutch-language site over seventy key works are available for download, fragments to thirty seconds long are availabe as well.
Caroline Ansink (b. 1959), Zeitenschrunde (1989, 8')
Caroline Ansink is a Dutch composer and flutist. Her work Zeitenschrunde is a setting of a text by Paul Celan. "Tief in der Zeitenschrunde / beim Wabeneis / wartet, ein Atemkristall / dein unumstößliches Zeugnis."
Recording: NCRV network, 1990
Source original music recording: Music Center the Netherlands
Performance: Nederlands Studenten Kamerkoor, conducted by Daniël Reuss
Henri Delnooz (b. 1942), Zwei Bilder von Auschwitz (1981, 14')
For sixteen-voice a cappella choir.
Recording: KRO network, 1986
Performance: Studium Chorale conducted by Eric Hermans
Source original music recording: Music Center the Netherlands
Score: Music Center the Netherlands
Jan van Dijk (b. 1918), Vertroosting (1944, 1'18)
Composer Jan van Dijk wrote the piece Vertroosting ["Solace"] in 1944 and based it on a poem by Joost van den Vondel, the most prominent Dutch poet of the 17th century. “I wrote it after a number of acquaintances of mine had been shot. All my fellow students from before the war who were Jewish were deported. Excellent musicians - they were all taken away. Only one survived. It was absolutely terrible. That was reality.”
Source: Jan van Dijk Foundation, CD11
Performance: Eindhovens Madrigaal Choir conducted by André van der Noots
Sam Englander (1896-1943), Halelu et Ad-nay kol goyim & Hodu l-Ad-nay ki tov (1935, 3'04)
Sam Englander was best known as the conductor of the Choir at the Great Synagogue in Amsterdam. In addition to serving as the conductor of this synagogue choir, he conducted many others, some of which were non-Jewish. The occupation brought an end to the work and life of this great conductor, however. Englander and his family were murdered at Sobibor on June 11, 1943.
Source: cd "Mokum, Jerusalem of the West, the musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Community of Amsterdam"; Bet Hatefutsoth/Jewish Historical Museum, 2005
Performance: Choir at the Great Synagogue in Amsterdam conducted by Sam Englander, I.E. Maroko (Chief Cantor), September 28, 1935
Special thanks to the Jewish Historical Museum
Rudolf Escher (1912-1980), Musique pour l'esprit en deuil (1943, 20'58)
As a young, creative composer, Rudolf Escher found it difficult living in a time of chaos, destruction, and uncertainty. An inveterate ethicist, he always set out to discover the essence of the main truths of life. The compositions he wrote during the occupation directly reflect his intellect, as well as a constant awareness of living in an age of destruction. His works can be seen as an act of resistance against the violence of war.
Tata Mirando jr. (b. 1933) and Nello Weiss Mirando (b. 1956), Improvisations, piano and violin (2010, 2'33)
Improvisation by Tata Mirando jr. (1933) and h is son Nello Mirando (1956) on the occasion of the publication of Zicht op verleden, vervolging en deportatie van de Sinti en Roma in Nederland 1940-1945 ["View of the history, persecution and deportation of the Sinti and Roma in the Netherlands 1940-1945"]. Tata Mirando jr. (Adolf Weis Mirando) is the son of Tata Mirando (Joseph Weiss), founder of the world famous Koninklijke Zigeunerorkest Tata Mirando ["Royal Gipsy Orchestra Tata Mirando"]. After his father's death in 1967, the orchestra leadership passed to Tata Mirando jr. His son, Nello Weis Mirando, is also a major talent, with several concerts in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw with the Mirandos and with orchestras from Budapest to his name.
Persecution and deportation of Sinti and Roma in WWII
Source: Zicht op verleden, vervolging en deportatie van de Sinti en Roma in Nederland 1940-1945 ["View of the history, persecution and deportation of the Sinti and Roma in the Netherlands 1940-1945"], Carry van Lakerveld and Raoul Nijst; Stichting Rechtsherstel Sinti en Roma, 2010
Recording: Moskitofilm, April 8, 2010; Victor Nieuwenhuis (Moskitofilm), Sander Schreuders (sound)
Special thanks to Nello Weis Mirando and Carry van Lakerveld
Louise de Montel (1926-1993), Ave Maria (undated, 1'44)
“Then we heard the Ave Maria coming from the women’s camp, sung by a girl with a fine voice. It was Louise de Montel, the 'Nightingale of Vught'. It was one of those moments at which we, the prisoners at Vught, forgot reality - a moment of intense experience, hope, and faith.”
The Beauty of Song
Source: vinyl single, sung by Louise de Montel with the 'nun choir', Tonysound, TD4468 (undated)
Gisela Wieberdink-Söhnlein (b. 1921) and Hetty Voûte (1918-1996), Hear the women sing, songs of Camp Vught and Ravensbrück (1994, 28')
Songs sung by Gisela Wieberdink-Söhnlein and Hetty Voûte, Pooh & Piglet, at the presentation of the book Vrouwen van Vught [“Women of Vught”] (Hans Olink, 1994) at the Camp Vught National Memorial. With piano accompaniment by theatre producer Coen Affolter, who was also a prisoner at Vught during the war years. Gisela and Hetty wrote the songs, including Ravensbrück-les-Bains, while imprisoned at Vught and Ravensbrück. The Red Cross drivers who brought the former Ravensbrück prisoners back to the Netherlands from Sweden were also invited to attend the presentation.
Dutch East Indies
Orchestra of Voices, Largo/New World, Dvorák (1943, 5'26)
This music is called 'vocal orchestra music' because women sing music written for piano orchestra. During the Second World War this special music helped a group of women survive a wartime situation in the Dutch East Indies that had been occupied by Japan (the Dutch colony became Indonesia in 1949).
Orchestra of Voices
Source: cd Song of Survival, Helen Colijn; MiraSound 399216, 1995/2004; by Women's Choir Malle Babbe, Haarlem, the Netherlands.
Richard Scie (b. 1931) about Lili Kraus (pianist, 1903-1986), interview by Radio New Zealand, 2003
The performances given by musicians imprisoned in the Japanese camps in the former Dutch East Indies made a deep, lasting impression on those who heard them. This was also true of the concerts given by the Lili Kraus (piano) and Szymon Goldberg (violin) duo, both of whom had established international reputations for themselves as soloists. In 1943, the families of both musicians were arrested and interned in various camps in and around Batavia and Bandung. A year prior, Lili Kraus had managed to escape a raid thanks to her piano playing. Richard Sie, the son of a Chinese surgeon who had taken the Kraus family into his home, was thirteen at the time. He recalls what happened: “After a pause, a very different man [the Japanese officer who was supposed to arrest Lili] stood up from the couch. Bowing respectfully, he mumbled his thanks for her impromptu concert. He left the house quietly, apparently forgetting that he was supposed to take Lily with him.”
Almary with the Ilsa Loritta Orchestra, Herr Hitler Wants to Go to London (1941, 3'09)
A unique Columbia recording from the Dutch East Indies by the musician Almary with the Ilsa Loritta Orkest [“Orchestra”] of the Indisch Restaurant Bandoeng [“Indonesian Restaurant Bandoeng”]. Probably recorded in Singapore in the autumn of 1941. The recording features the story in song of Hitler’s failed attempt to add Great Britain to his “empire”.
Source: Tim de Wolf, Bureau for Audio Archeology De Wolf; thanks to Lex Jautze
Recording: Colombia Records, 1941
Pedro Pablo ‘Dada’ Medardo de Marchena (1899-1968), Bula Waya ["Over the fence"] (1940-1945, 3'13)
Antilleans thought to be subversive at the outbreak of the Second World War were arrested and interned in a camp in Bonaire. This happened to the popular singer Pedro Pablo ‘Dada’ Medardo de Marchena. At the very beginning of the war, de Marchena was arrested on suspicion of harboring Communist sympathies. He would spend five years in the camp in Bonaire, where he wrote songs about wanting to leave the camp and about feminine beauty beyond the barbed wire. His Bula Waya [“Over the Fence”] became an Antillean classic. He wrote in Papiamento to counterbalance the popularity of English-language songs.
Source: 'Padu del Caribe' (Juan Lampe) and the Netherlands Antilles Orchestra rec. Curaçao; Curaçao, 1952