Jan van Dijk

Jan van Dijk was born on 4 June 1918 in Oostzaan. He studied composition with Willem Pijper and piano with Jaap Callenbach. From 1955 he was lecturer of composition and theory at the Conservatory of Brabant in Tilburg and from 1961 to 1979 he taught general subjects at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. He has followed Prof. Fokker's interest in the 31-tone system from the beginning, and was one of the first composers to write works for the 31-tone organ in Haarlem.
Jan van Dijk is without doubt the most productive Dutch composer of this time. His music is filled with surprising turns, motives, instrumental colour combinations, all composed in a moderately modern idiom, in which sometimes the impressionist and lucid atmosphere of Van Dijk's greatest idol after Bach: Debussy, or else the fresh, the passion and folk rhythmic of his other idol: Bartók, can appear. Finally also Richard Wagner belongs to his great idols. But an epigone is this striking figure from Tilburg not in the least, if only for the inexhaustible ways he can express himself in remarkable instrumental combinations.
photo Jan van Dijk Jan van Dijk has written about 950 compositions. About 250 are works for orchestra, among which nine symphonies, five sinfoniettas, and many symphonic poems and solo concertos for among others viola, alto saxophone, alto recorder, accordian, double bass, saxophone, violin, flute, trombone, oboe and organ. He also wrote a lot of music for amateur ensembles like fanfares and brassbands, using bizarre combinations as brassband with carillon and symphony-orchestra with carillon. Many concertos and concertinos for piano and orchestra were introduced by himself as soloist.
Jan van Dijk also occupied several executive functions and was music journalist for the Algemeen Handelsblad. His works were often honoured with awards.

In Concerto for trombone, violin and cello is the trombone the only instrument that uses the 31-tone system, with the exception of two notes in the violin score; the two string instruments play in the 'ordinary' twelve tone systen and form in this way a large contrast with the trombone. The tone systems employed by Jan van Dijk are based on the Euler-Fokker genera of the sixth degree, namely [333577] and [335577].
The ad libitum sections for the trombone in the middle part, the Aria, form in a certain sense the axis of the piece. These recitative-like passages interrupt the metrical continuity of the Aria and join themselves between the pitch heights which are structured around the central point in an almost perfect retrograde movement. Although this information gives some insight into the way of composing, it says nothing about the music itself. It is not cold, rational and construed, but warm, lyrical and human.

Article on this website

Article with Adriaan Fokker "Expériences musicales avec les genres musicaux de Leonhard Euler contenant la septième harmonique", with compositions, 1949