He was twenty-four. Twenty-four. That was all the Nazis allowed him. Who
knows what he would have been capable of? What operas could we have had
from him? Who knows, maybe he would have surpassed maybe he would have surpassed Wagner, the composer who
was not so keen on Jews? Or he might have gone in a totally different
direction and become a jazz giant?
We will never know, because he only lived to be 24 and when the war
broke out he was not even 20 yet. But he had already made a name for himself
as a violinist. But also as a composer, because composing was his true love and something
he did on a daily base. Even while he was in hiding.
He had to move often because he was in danger of being betrayed, but he
continued to compose. How he was arrested is not entirely clear. Perhaps
during a raid? What we do know is that on 14 May 1944 he was put on a
transport to Auschwitz. A death certificate, dated 30 September 1944,
states that he died in Central Europe. That is all we have to go on.
At one time he also wanted to become a music teacher, as is shown by an
advertisement in Het Joodsche Weekblad (a publication of the Jewish
Council) of 7 September 1941, in which he offered himself as a teacher
of music theory and violin pedagogy. Only recently, he had successfully
passed the state examination of theory and violin with Willem Pijper,
which enabled him to establish himself as a teacher. He lived in
Naarden with his mother, his younger brother, his sister and her husband.
Kattenburg never denounced his Jewish background. He arranged a large
number of Hebrew melodies, which appeared in his manuscripts with titles
written in Hebrew and he also used dating according to the Jewish calendar. In
1942, the Star of David even appeared symbolically in his manuscripts.
Not long ago, a CD was released with Kattenburg’s “All that jazz”,
something we owe to a German piano duo, Friederike Haufe and Volker Ahmels.
The ‘Overture for two pianos’ from 1936 is the only work Kattenburg
wrote for two pianos (i.e. not for piano four hands). Tap dance’ also
dates from the same period and for this a tap dancer was actually needed to perform.
Kattenburg even made a very successful drawing of the tap dancer in the
manuscript. On this new album, Tonio Geugelin has been perfectly fitted
to this special role.
You really have to buy this CD. Please do. It is insanely good. And so incredibly
That this CD has a short playing time, a little over 21 minutes is not
important. There is simply nothing more.
Friederike Haufe: “We wondered if it would be possible to market a CD of
such short duration, especially when most people want quantity next to
quality… but Donemus and Medien Kontor, labels we worked with, asked
us to leave it this way. So it has become a kind of metaphor for the
tragedy of his short life …
Works for two pianos and piano four hands by Dick Kattenburg
Piano duo Friederike Haufe and Volker Ahmels (piano) with Tonio Geugelin
This cd can be ordered here. You can also download the booklet here
I am grateful, and not for the first time, for reading about musicians who, thanks to you, Basiu, become known to me. And Dick Kattenburg is yet another of those musicians. His Tap Dancer is light and whimsical, and stays in one’s memory long after being listened to.
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