Welcome to my weblog!
The place where I will regularly post thoughts and comments on any aspect of music.
Join my World of Music - and feel free to comment!
(As you see, the blog is in DInglish - Dutch International English - but comments in Dutch, German, French, Spanish and Frisian are welcome.)

Curious who I might be?
Look me up at my personal page.
Want to be notified when a new blog entry appears? Leave your email-address at the 'Follow by Email'-option below. Or become my Facebook-friend! (Or find me on LinkedIn and Twitter - @EvertBBoele.)
And you might check my other blog, Evert Listens to Dylan, if you would be interested what listening to the complete recordings of Bob Dylan does with (or to, or for) me.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Alan Lomax revisited - or Who the Dutchie Was (aka: Pieter de Rooij Wins the Prize)

This blog entry will reveal who the Dutchie was who accompanied Alan Lomax on a trip to Spain just after the second world war - see my earlier writing on the topic. But it will do so with a detour. Have a little patience, be brave, have faith that this story will finally end and the question will be answered, just read on and you will be rewarded. And allow me to take the opportunity to make some more or less related points while detouring.

So let me start with announcing that this summer I will go to Shanghai for a week.
Not to finally immerse myself in Chinese culture because I am such a fan of the work of Slauerhoff (which I am - especially of his novels; did you know, by the way, that Cristina Branco sings his poems in Portuguese as fados) or of Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee detective novels (which I am; Van Gulik, by the way, was also a connoisseur of the Chinese instrument Q'in or Ch'in - he wrote a standard work still acclaimed widely, 'The Lore of the Chinese Lute'. People who took my course in non-western music know the answer to the question why Van Gulik calls the Q'in - a zither - a lute.) (There also is a relation between Judge Dee and the Grijpstra & De Gier tv series, by the way...)

No, I will go to Shanghai to visit the world conference of the international ethnomusicological society. The society is called the International Council for Traditional Music, an old-fashioned name (but before having this name it was called the International Folk Music Council, even more old-fashioned) for a society covering an enormous diversity of characters from all over the world who share one thing: a fascination for music. The nice thing is, apart from their fascination for music, that their fascinations are so widely divergent: Africa, Inuit, the Bushmen, Groningen; instruments, compositions, social groups, musical pantheons - you name it and someone's working on it. The conference is always a happy gathering: lots of nice and lots of weird people, lots of interesting - and less interesting - reading of papers, and lots of music making going on before, in between, after and sometimes during the papers. If you are an ethnomusicologist, the conference is the place to be (which sounds convincing, as it is an ethnomusicological conference, as it were).

Anyway. When you're there, you will find yourself sitting at a table and someone takes the chair next to you and asks you for your name and your area. Area? Yes: you are supposed to answer 'Ghana', or 'Greenland', or 'Holland'. And then you are supposed to ask what the area of that someone is. But probably you will be able to guess. Because many ethnomusicologists like a bit of 'going native' - so if the guy wears a batik shirt he will be 'in' Indonesia; if he wears a Dutch Vlisco-print shirt he will be 'in ' Africa, et cetera. And if he looks bland like me, he is probably 'in' ethnomusicology-at-home - like me. The ultimate form of going native, in a way.

Now going native is a dangerous thing, methodologically; at least so the anthropologists and sociologists warn us ethnomusicologists. And they are right, of course. Nevertheless, apart of course from the lure of living dangerously, the going native tendency of many ethnomusicologists has a great charm. Someone is so gripped by a certain music that he wants to become that music - but because that is impossible he at least tries to become an inhabitant of the area where the music comes from.

The person coming to my mind here is a Dutch ethnomusicologist called Bernard IJzerdraat. He studied with Jaap Kunst (the Dutch inventor of the word ethnomusicology, too much neglected in the Netherlands - remind me that I send the municipality of Groningen a letter to request to name a street after him, because he comes from Groningen originally; who wrote, by the way, not only about Java, Bali, Papua and Flores but also about Terschelling, showing he really is an island man) - he studied with Kunst, I said, in Amsterdam during the second world war, was even involved in illegally fabricating during the war the first gamelan handcrafted outside Indonesia - imagine that, hammering a handmade gamelan into being right under the Gestapo's nose (find some of the story here in Dutch)! Bernard became a specialist in Indonesian music and art, teaching a.o. Ki Mantle Hood (the godfather of the US gamelan scene) and emigrated in the 1950s to Indonesia to become professor Bernard Suryabrata. Going native, yes.

Leaving IJzerdraat for a moment, I take the liberty of quoting from my earlier blog entry about Alan Lomax going to Spain accompanied by an unknown Dutchman:

""At that time", Lomax writes, "I did not know that my Dutch travelling companion was the son of the man who had headed the underground in Holland during the German occupation; but he was recognized at once by the professor who ran the conference. This man [Marius Schneider EBB] was a refugee Nazi, who had taken over the Berlin folk song archive after Hitler had removed its Jewish chief [Erich von Hornbostel EBB] and who, after the war, had fled to Spain and was there placed in charge of folk music research at the Institute for Higher Studies in Madrid. When I told him about my project, he let me know that he personally would see to it that no Spanish musicologist would help me. He also suggested that I leave Spain."

What a hell of a tableau this makes: Lomax, Brailoiu [with whom Lomax travelled to Spain], Schneider, their work overshadowed by the threatening shadows of Hitler and Franco (and the FBI at the same time following Lomax because he was suspected to be a communist - McCarthy was coming), in a time when folk song collecting was of great social importance.

And in the midst of all this this mysterious "Young Dutchman", specializing in gamelan as a young Dutchman ought to do and visiting a conference. Who is he? Who?"

I now can reveal it was a young Bernard IJzerdraat - yet to become Suryabrata. Bernard's father was Bernardus IJzerdraat. He played an important role in Dutch resistance, was fusillated in 1941, and one of the deaths mourned in Jan Campert's famous poem 'The song of the eighteen dead' ('Het lied der achttien doden').

And it was my fellow ethnomusicologist Pieter de Rooij who pointed this out to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Pieter! Read Pieter's blog Tonalties, by the way: it is good fun! And once I have thought out which prize should have been connected to answering the question about Lomax' Dutchie, be sure it will come in your direction, Pieter!

PS Lomax' allegation that Marius Schneider in a way collaborated with the Nazis by heading the Phonogramm Archiv from 1934-1945 is hard to reconcile with the fact that, according to the Schneider-entry on German wikipedia, Schneider fled Germany in 1944. Something to find out more about (there is a 2001 article on the question, I see at the bottom of the French Wikipedia Echneider-entry) - especially because Schneider also took ('occupied', I nearly wrote, but that would be a bit misplacd in this context) the ethnomusicology chair at the University of Amsterdam at the end of the 1960s ...

No comments:

Post a Comment