|Elly Ameling, born February 8, 1933
- Rotterdam, the Netherlands
The outstanding Dutch soprano, Elly Ameling (actually Elisabeth Sara), studied Rotterdam and The Hague with Bodi Rapp. She completed her training with Pierre Bernac in Paris. In 1956 she won the first prize in the vocal competition in s’Hertogenbosch, but her career really started to take off after she won first prize at the ‘Concours International de Musique’ in Geneva in 1958. Many other first prizes followed.
Elly Ameling made her formal recital debut in Amsterdam in 1961. Subsequent appearances with the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Philharmonic and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra secured her reputation. Since then, concert tours led her regularly throughout the world. She has performed with most major symphony orchestras, and conductors such as Ernest Ansermet, Carlo Maria Giulini, Bernard Haitink, Rafael Kubelík, Kurt Masur, Wolfgang Sawallisch, André Previn, and Seiji Ozawa. She is a regular guest at the major festivals (Holland Festival, Edinburgh, Lucerne, Aix-en-Provence, Tanglewood, Flanders Festival, etc.) She also regularly receives invitations to give master classes.
Elly Ameling's repertoire (lied as well as works with orchestra) ranges from Monteverdi and J.S. Bach through W.A. Mozart, Schubert, Robert Schumann, Wolf, and Debussy to composers of the 20th century, such as Benjamin Britten, Gian Carlo Menotti, Francis Poulenc, and Geroge Gershwin. More than 150 LP’s and CD’s document this extended repertoire. Many of them have been awarded the Edison Prize (4 x), the ‘Grand Prix du Disque’, the ‘Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik’, etc. [Note: Though the adage says not to judge a book by its cover, the recordings shown on this webpage have been selected because of their photos of the artist!]
Ameling has been awarded four honorary degrees and has been knighted, in 1971, by Her Majesty the Queen of The Netherlands for her services to music (the Order of Orange-Nassau) and in 2008 she received the highest civil decoration in the Netherlands, the Order of the Netherlands Lion.
-- Names which are links refer to my interviews elsewhere on this website. BD
A few more recordings with Elly Ameling
which also feature some of my other interview guests
To read my Interviews with Yvonne Minton, click HERE.
To read my Interview with Tom Krause, click HERE.
To read my Intereview with Siegmund Nimsgern, click HERE.
To read my Interview with Anna Reynolds, click HERE.
To read my Intereview with Gwynne Howell, click HERE.
To read my Interview with Peter Schreier, click HERE.
To read my Interview with Wolfgang Sawallisch, click HERE.
To read my Interview with Vittorio Negri, clilck HERE.
To read my Interview with Heinz Rehfuss, click HERE.
To read my Interview with Arleen Augér, click HERE.
To read my Interview with George Shirley, click HERE.
To read my Interview with Benjamin Luxon, click HERE.
To read my Interview with Antal Dorati, click HERE.
To read my Interview with Raymond Leppard, click HERE.
|Sir Constantijn Huygens (4 September
1596 – 28 March 1687), was a Dutch Golden Age poet and composer. He was secretary
to two Princes of Orange: Frederick Henry and William II, and the father
of the scientist Christiaan Huygens.
Constantijn Huygens was born in The Hague, the second son of Christiaan Huygens (senior), secretary of the Council of State, and Susanna Hoefnagel, niece of the Antwerp painter Joris Hoefnagel.
Constantijn was a gifted child in his youth. His brother Maurits and he were educated partly by their father and partly by carefully instructed governors. When he was five years old, Constantijn and his brother received their first musical education.
They started with singing lessons, and they learned their notes using gold colored buttons on their jackets. It is striking that Christiaan senior imparted the 'modern' system of 7 note names to the boys, instead of the traditional, but much more complicated hexachord system. Two years later the first lessons on the viol started, followed by the lute and the harpsichord. Constantijn showed a particular acumen for the lute. At the age of eleven he was already asked to play for ensembles, and later — during his diplomatic travels — his lute playing was in demand. He was asked to play at the Danish Court and for James I of England, although they were not known for their musical abilities.
The boys were also schooled in art through their parents art collection, and also their connection to the magnificent collection of paintings in the Antwerp house of diamond and jewelry dealer, Gaspar Duarte (1584–1653), who was a Portuguese Jewish exile.
Constantijn also had a talent for languages. He learned French, Latin and Greek, and at a later age Italian and English. He learned by practice, the modern way of learning techniques. Constantijn received education in math, law and logic, and he learned how to handle a pike and a musket.
In 1614 Constantijn wrote his first Dutch poem, inspired by the French poet Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, in which he praises rural life. In his early 20s, he fell in love with Dorothea, however their relationship did not last and Dorothea met someone else. In 1616, Maurits and Constantijn started studies at Leiden University. Studying in Leiden was primarily seen as a way to build a social network. Shortly after, Maurits was called home to assist his father. Constantijn finished his studies in 1617 and returned home. This was followed by six weeks of training with Antonis de Hubert, a lawyer in Zierikzee.
In the Spring of 1618 Constantijn found employment with Sir Dudley Carleton, the English envoy at the Court in The Hague. In the summer, he stayed in London in the house of the Dutch ambassador, Noël de Caron. During his time in London his social circle widened and he also learned to speak English. In 1620, towards the end of the Twelve Years' Truce, he travelled as a secretary of ambassador François van Aerssen to Venice, to gain support against the threat of renewed war. He was the only member of the legation who could speak Italian. In January 1621 he traveled to England as the secretary of six envoys of the United Provinces with the object of persuading James I to support the German Protestant Union, returning in April of that year. In December 1621 he left with another delegation, this time with the aim of requesting support for the United Provinces, returning after a year and two months in February 1623. There was yet another trip to England in 1624.
He is often considered a member of what is known as the Muiderkring, a group of leading intellectuals gathered around the poet Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft, who met regularly at the castle of Muiden near Amsterdam. In 1619 Constantijn came into contact with Anna Roemers Visscher and with Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft. Huygens exchanged many poems with Anna. In 1621 a poetic exchange with Hooft also starts. Both would always try to exceed the other.
In 1622, when Constantijn stayed as a diplomat for more than one year in England, he was knighted by King James I. This marked the end of Constantijn's formative years. Huygens was employed as a secretary to Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, who — after the death of Maurits of Orange — was appointed as stadtholder. In 1626 Constantijn fell in love with Suzanna van Baerle. Earlier courtship by the Huygens family to win her for Maurits had failed. Constantijn wrote several sonnets for her, in which he calls her Sterre (Star). They wed on 6 April 1627.
The couple had five children: in 1628 their first son, Constantijn Jr., in 1629 Christiaan, in 1631 Lodewijk and in 1633 Philips. In 1637 their daughter Suzanna was born; shortly after her birth their mother died.
Huygens started a successful career despite his grief over the death of his wife (in 1638). In 1630 he was appointed to the Council and Exchequer, managing the estate of the Orange family. This job provided him with an income of about 1000 florins a year. In that same year he bought the estate Zuilichem and became known as Lord of Zuilichem. In 1632 Louis XIII of France, the protector of the famous exiled jurist Hugo Grotius, appointed him as knight in the Order of Saint-Michel. In 1643 Huygens was granted the honor of displaying a golden lily on a blue field in his coat of arms.
In 1634 Huygens received from Prince Frederick Henry a piece of property in The Hague on the north side of the Binnenhof. The land was near the property of a good friend of Huygens, Count Johan Maurits of Nassau-Siegen, who built his house, the Mauritshuis, around the same time and using the same architect, Huygens' friend Jacob van Campen.
At the start of the 1630s he was also in touch with René Descartes, with Rembrandt, and the painter Jan Lievens. He became friends with John Donne, and translated his poems into Dutch. He was unable to write poetry for months because of his anguish over his wife's death, but eventually he composed, inspired by Petrarch, the sonnet Op de dood van Sterre (On the death of Sterre), which was well received.
After a couple of years as a widower, Huygens bought a piece of land in Voorburg and commissioned the building of Hofwijck, which was inaugurated in 1642 in the company of friends and relatives. Here Huygens hoped to escape the stress at court in The Hague, forming his own 'court', indicated by the name of the house which has a double meaning: Hof (=Court or courtyard) Wijck (=avoid or township). In that same year, his brother Maurits died. Due to his grief Huygens wrote little Dutch poetry, but he continued to write epigrams in Latin. Shortly afterwards, he began writing Dutch pun poems, which are very playful by nature. In 1644 and 1645 Huygens began more serious work. As a new year's present for Leonore Hellemans, he composed the Heilige Daghen, a series of sonnets on the Christian holidays. In 1647 he published another work, in which play and seriousness are united, Ooghentroost, addressed to Lucretia of Trello, who was losing her sight and who was already half-blind. The poem was offered as consolation.
From 1650 to 1652 Huygens wrote the poem Hofwijck in which he described the joys of living outside the city. It is thought that Huygens wrote his poetry as a testament to himself, a memento mori, because Huygens lost so many dear friends and family during this time: Hooft (1647), Barlaeus (1648), Maria Tesschelschade (1649) and Descartes (1650).
In 1645, his sons Constantijn Jr. and Christiaan began their studies in Leiden. In these years Prince Frederick Henry of Orange, Huygens' confidante and protector, became increasingly ill, and died in 1647. The new stadtholder, William II of Orange, greatly appreciated Huygens and gave him the estate of Zeelhem, but he died too in 1650.
The emphasis of Huygens' activities moved more and more to his presidency of the Council of the house of Orange, which was in the hands of the young Prince inheritor, a small baby. He traveled frequently during that time, in connection with his work. There were however strong disagreements between the baby's widowed mother in law Amalia van Solms, and widow daughter in law Mary, Princess Royal, (4 November 1631 – 24 December 1660, aged 29) on even the name for christening the Dutch-English Royal newborn.
In 1657, his son Philips died after a short sickness during his Grand Tour while in Prussia. In that same year Huygens became seriously ill, but healed in a miraculous manner.
In 1680 Constantijn Jr. moved with his family out of the house of his father. To stop the gossiping which started shortly afterwards, Huygens write the poem Cluijs-werck, in which he shows a glimpse of the latter stages of his life.
He still tried to find time to publish more of his work. In 1647 a number of Huygens' musical creations, Pathodia sacra et profana, was published in Paris. It contained some compositions in Latin on the words of psalms in French, and Italian amorous worldly texts. The work was dedicated to the pretty niece, Utricia Ogle, of an English diplomat.
In 1648 Huygens wrote Twee ongepaerde handen for a harpsichord. This work was connected with Marietje Casembroot, a twenty-five-year-old harpsichord player, with whom he could share his love for music.
As he was older now, Huygens found refuge in music. He wrote around 769 compositions during his lifetime.
Constantijn Huygens died in The Hague on Good Friday, 28 March 1687 at the age of 90. A week later he was buried in the Grote Kerk in the Hague, together with his son, the famous scientist Christiaan Huygens.
In 1947 a literary award was created, the Constantijn Huygens Award, to honor his legacy
© 1982 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in her hotel in Chicago on April 9,
1982. Portions were broadcast on WNIB in 1986, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1998
and 1999. A copy of the unedited audio was placed in the Archive of Contemporary Music at Northwestern University. This transcription
was made in 2016, and posted on this website at that time.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.