Born: May 11, 1881; Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Died: September 8, 1944
Dutch composer Jan van Gilse spent most of his professional life, which lasted from 1900 until the National Socialists rang the curtain down in 1941, between a rock and a hard place. German-educated, as were most promising composers in the years around 1900, van Gilse returned to the Netherlands as a conductor only to endure withering attacks from critics owing to the perceived German-ness of his programming and compositions. During these hardRead more times, van Gilse played a major role in establishing proper performance rights policies in the Netherlands and served as the first president of what is now BUMA-STEMRA, the equivalent in Holland to what ASCAP or BMI is in the United States. Finally stepping aside from his conducting post in Utrecht in order to silence his critics, van Gilse took up minor conducting engagements in a scattershot fashion thereafter in order to get by. After 1933, van Gilse was fending off Nazi-sponsored requests -- some proffered by his idol, Richard Strauss -- to ally music publishing in the Netherlands with Nazi interests; he was also greatly concerned with protecting Jewish musicians from persecution. During the war, both of van Gilse's sons died fighting in the resistance, and van Gilse himself perished while in hiding and was buried under a phony name.
Jan van Gilse left behind an impressive list of compositions, emphasizing major forms; he composed two operas, four and a half symphonies, cantatas for voice and orchestra, and chamber works. Read less
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