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Musicians and artists

A small selection of musicians and artists, notable for their music, personality, attitude, or life story.


Henk Badings
Henk Badings (1907-1987), Beautiful Music by a Controversial Individual
Henk Badings was an intelligent, productive composer who left behind an impressive œuvre of over 600 works. Most of them are of a high musical caliber that has been appreciated throughout the world. But in the Netherlands, their creator’s name continues to be associated with a controversial war record.
 
Rudolf Escher
Rudolf Escher (1912-1980), A Conscientious Ethicist and Esthetician
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.
 
Jan van Gilse
Jan van Gilse (1881-1944), A Militant and Committed Idealist
Jan van Gilse lived for his art, always seeking the best and the highest attainable goal in music, inspired by idealistic motives. As a conductor and organizer, he militantly championed the interests of Dutch music. The Germans certainly could have made good use of a man like van Gilse, were it not for his fierce anti-fascist convictions and the fact that he always managed to elude the Nazi regime.
 
Johnny & Jones (1916-1945, 1918-1945), Singing Carefree Songs at Westerbork
Johnny & Jones, “two kids and a guitar” (Johnny “Max” Salomon Meyer Kannewasser, b. 1916, and Jones “Nol” Arnold Siméon van Wesel, b. 1918) were Dutch pop idols of the late 1930s. They had become very popular before the war with their upbeat songs inspired by American jazz. They also performed cheerful music in the camp cafe at Westerbork almost every day as a symbol of their trust in the future. Unfortunately, however, that trust would ultimately prove to be an illusion. 
 
Willem Mengelberg
Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951), A Celebrated Musician in Free Fall
Willem Mengelberg was one the most famous conductors worldwide in the first half of the twentieth century. From an early age, he had a close relationship with Germany. His parents were German and had moved to the Netherlands in 1870. Mengelberg even received part of his training in Germany, namely in Cologne. Before the First World War, he had performed in Frankfurt for many years in addition to his work with the Concertgebouw Orchestra.