Looking back on our Sweelinck Day 2021

23 November 2021

The Netherlands recently commemorated the 400th death year of one the country’s most important composers, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, who died on the 16th of October 1621.The country filled with concerts celebrating this wonderful composer, with the main event taking place in Amsterdam from 16-24 October, with concerts, a research conference, and a book “Sweelinck!” illustrating the composers place in Dutch society, who even today remains a cultural icon. While forgotten as a composer by many, his name can still be found on street signs in most Dutch towns, on cafes, on the 25 Guilder note, and on stamps.

The Royal Conservatoire contributed to the celebrations with a Sweelinck day, filled with lectures, student demonstrations, an exhibition, and two concerts. Find here some impressions of the day and quotes from participating students. You can still order the Sweelinck Magazine with articles by Ton Koopman, Simon Groot and Kathryn Cok here.

Interview, Lectures and Concerts

Find below the interview with Dr. Kathryn Cok and explore with her the world of the iconic Dutch composer. Click through the programme of the Sweelinck Day at the Royal Conservatoire.

Lecture: Simon Groot, Early Basso Continuo, the case of Sweelinck's Cantiones sacrae (Antwerp 1619)

It was good to share a scientific vision with students from the Royal Conservatoire. In my view, musicology is in the service of musicians and performance practice, which is why interaction between scientists and musicians is so important
Simon Groot, researcher and musicologist
I was eager to hear Simon Groot’s talk because it dealt with basso continuo, which overlaps with my research, and concerns me as a lutenist. It was interesting to learn about the Italian sources he presented, and to see how they related to Sweelinck's practice. I very much enjoyed the discussion of fingerings, and how they relate to interpretation. It's always exciting to imagine how a composer of the caliber of Sweelinck might have played his or her music, especially given how united composition and performance were at that time. Overall, I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about Sweelinck, whom I was not particularly familiar with, in spite of his importance.
Jeremy Bass, Master of Early Music Lute
It was a great pleasure for me to be in the audience listening to both eloquent lectures. The lecture by Groot gave me a point of view that better expands the European context and highlights the similarities of the national styles, especially because previously, to me, the names of these treatises were not so closely related to Sweelinck's Northern European style. I also appreciated being able to interpret some musical examples of historical fingering myself with my harpsichord classmates. Kathryn Cok's presentation, full of sensitivity and a poetic look at the investigation of an ambiguous and complex subject, made a great impression on me. It was a day full of knowledge and learning, and a luxury to be able to be so closely involved in this kind of academic activity at the Royal Conservatoire of the Hague.
Laura Mingo, Erasmus student Bachelor of Early Music Harpsichord