in memoriam - Ack van Rooyen

19 november 2021

Ack van Rooyen

01.01.1930 – 18.11.2021

We are deeply saddened by the passing of master trumpet and flugelhorn player Ack van Rooyen yesterday afternoon in The Hague. We are also endlessly thankful for the shared time with this unique musician and person, as well as for the guidance and inspiration he provided to generations of students, colleagues and listeners.

Ack van Rooyen was born in The Hague and studied classical trumpet at the Royal Conservatoire, graduating cum laude in 1949. That same year, together with his beloved brother Jerry van Rooyen and Rob Pronk, he visited New York City where he heard jazz concerts on 52nd Street. Back in Europe, Ack worked both as an orchestra musician and as a jazz artist.

His accolades are too many to mention and include the Buma Boy Edgar Prize, the Edison award, and being declared Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau. Ack was invited to perform with the greatest artists and orchestras in the history of jazz, such as Clark Terry, the Gil Evans Orchestra and Miles Davis. We knew of his great success and critical acclaim, of course we did. But we also had the privilege and honour to hear Ack’s music from close by, when he taught and performed with faculty members and students here in The Hague. It is this closeness that we will miss terribly.

Ack van Rooyen taught trumpet from the beginning of the existence of the Jazz department of the Royal Conservatoire until his retirement. He educated several generations of jazz musicians and stayed close to the institute until his passing. There is not a single person who did not love and revere Ack van Rooyen’s artistry. He touched all of us with his tone, his phrasing, his melodic sense and his unique combination of musical genius and human warmth.

As students, we admired and listened to the charismatic teacher he was, as alumni we associated Ack with the best The Hague had to offer, and as colleagues and friends we were time and again inspired by his greatness as a musician and as a person.

We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to Ack’s family and friends. In the name of students, faculty and management, we thank Ack for the generosity with which he shared his wisdom and art.

Susanne Abbuehl, Head of the Jazz Department
Henk van der Meulen, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire

Masterclass at the Royal Conservatoire on March 31, 2021

Last March, jazz icon and BUMA Boy Edgar Prize winner Ack van Rooyen honoured us with his presence in a profoundly inspiring masterclass. In the presence of several generations of players he has influenced – current students as well as faculty members Rik Mol, Martijn de Laat and Jarmo Hoogendijk and regular musical partner Juraj Stanik – he shared his immense wisdom generously with us. This short film by San Bhugaloo documents the beauty of his musical and personal contribution and lets us understand once more why he is one of the most admired jazz musicians at the Royal Conservatoire, in the Netherlands as well as internationally.

in memoriam

Colleagues, friends and former students share their memories and express their condolences.

To my trumpet teacher, mentor, colleague and dear friend Ack van Rooyen: Thank you so much for your immense contribution to the jazz world; for helping so successfully to put Europe on the world map as a swinging jazz continent; for giving the flügelhorn a permanent place in jazz; for your presence in the Royal Conservatoire for many years as a teacher and mentor who has showed the way to several generations of jazz musicians, regardless of instrument.

What a beautiful, long and incredibly well-spent life you have lived. Your physical presence will be sorely missed. But your playing, love, humor, wisdom and sense of beauty will remain with us forever and will live on in many more generations of jazz musicians to come. Someone as special as you will simply never be gone. Dear Ack, we all know you will keep swinging and spreading joy and beauty forever.

Love, Jarmo

The trademark of a great musician is that you can recognise him within a few notes. This was the case with Ack van Rooyen. To make music with him was reaching for the essence of it, and that is the way he was as a person, too, paired with a very keen sense of humour.

His musical spirit and heritage will continue to live on through several generations of trumpet players. I will honour his memory and share his teachings with my students. He will forever remain in my heart.

I am thankful for the many very special and often humorous moments together with Ack.

Wat zal ik hem missen. Zo ongelooflijk geestig, altijd ondersteunend en liefdevol, en zo zeldzaam één met het instrument. Hij wist als geen ander wat hij kon op zijn bugel, en kon zo fantastisch helemaal in de muziek zijn. "No mind" noemde hij dat dan.

Hij kon confronterend zijn zonder ooit afbrekend te zijn, altijd opbouwend en licht. En zo als hij was speelde hij ook. Wat een bijzondere muzikant en prachtig mens.

Ack van Rooyen bleek helaas niet het eeuwige leven te hebben. Zijn muziek heeft dat gelukkig wel. De onvergetelijke fluwelen toon op de flugelhorn, de eindeloze muzikale frasen op trompet, de muzikale expressie die peilloos diep raken. Eén van de allergrootste, wellicht dé allergrootste Nederlandse jazzmusicus is heengegaan. Een man van weinig woorden maar rake woorden met een diepe boodschap. Altijd bescheiden, altijd correct, altijd warmte uitstralend. We zullen Ack van Rooyen missen maar nooit vergeten.

Het is aan Ack te danken dat de jazzafdeling van het Koninklijk Conservatorium is uitgegroeid tot het internationale instituut dat het nu is. Toen ik midden jaren tachtig begon als ‘baas’ van Ack, was hij het die me heeft geïntroduceerd in de Europese en internationale jazz gemeenschap. De aanzet tot internationaliseren heeft Ack gegeven. Wat een inzicht, wat een visie!

Ack is een icoon van de Nederlandse Jazz, heeft ruim 60 jaar zijn stempel gedrukt op de jazz in Nederland en Europa( Denk aan zijn features in de Herbolzheimer Big Band en het United Jazzrock ensemble) en zijn spel en geluid hebben diverse generaties trompettisten sterk beïnvloed. Op mijn vraag aan Ack, wat hij de jonge generatie zou willen meegeven, antwoordde hij: 'leren luisteren' en dat zal mij altijd bijblijven.

Obituaries in the press

De Volkskrant




humble heroes podcast with Ack van Rooyen