I’m saddened by the news of the demise of Felix van Lamsweerde, one of Holland’s greatest experts on Indian classical music. I’ve known Felix for more than thirty years, we often met and spoke each other at ethnomusicological events and at concerts of Indian classical music. He passed away on Saturday 31st of July 2021.
During his career as curator ethnomusicology at the KIT Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam Felix made a huge number of recordings of mostly Indian classical music performances on audio tape, video and film, all of which – along with his writings, photos and other parts of his collection – has moved to the Musicology Department of the University of Göttingen in 2017. Felix van Lamsweerde is also known for his great contributions to promote and popularize Indian classical music in The Netherlands and abroad.
His passing is a huge loss – he will be dearly missed. RIP, dear Felix.
KITLV / Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies has put online a substantial collection of popular music from Indonesia. Thousands of songs from the 20th century – traditional, popular and locally inspired – are freely available and can be streamed through a renewed media library. The added contextual data and images of the original records make a collection that was previously hard to find, into a unique source for contemporary and cultural history of Indonesia. Click here to try out this music collection.
Peter van Hoboken in his office at Radio Netherlands
From here I’d like to refer to these documents as the Radio Netherlands Hoboken Collection, abbreviated as RNHC. My find in January 2002 of a unique recording by Radio Netherlands in 1957 of sitarist Ravi Shankar already illustrated the great value of Peter van Hoboken, who organised this recording. As an adept of Indian classical music and dance Van Hoboken organised recordings of concerts in The Netherlands and he produced many Radio Netherlands programmes on Indian classical music.
At this point I want to proceed with some interesting documents I found among the RNHC, concerning radiotalks done in 1950 by world famous dutch ethnomusicologist Arnold Bake (1899-1963), radiotalks Bake did in english and hindi about the musical life and culture of India, recorded for the Radio Netherlands Transcription Service to be distributed to presumably India and Surinam for broadcasts by stations over there. What I found of these radiotalks is only paperwork, Bake’s typed scripts along with his handwritten corrections. Unfortunately, the recorded tapes can’t be found in the Radio Netherlands Audio Archives, as these were sent to stations outside Holland, the main task of the Transcription Service.
It’s a great pity the recordings of Bake can’t be found in the archives of Radio Netherlands. I’ve asked Felix van Lamsweerde and they’re not in his Van Hoboken Collection. I would assume that they could have been stored in the Arnold Bake Archives, kept at the University of Leiden, but Felix and another expert, Fred Gales, told me that the collection over there contains only papers of radiotalks and not recordings. So, if not in Hilversum and not in Leiden, where can they be? Did the Radio Netherlands Transcription Service sent them to All India Radio and/or to Surinam or are they kept somewhere at the University of London’s School of Oriental & African Studies where Bake lectured? At this point I can’t believe they’re lost. I hope they can be found somewhere, as I’d like to hear how the scripts I found in Hilversum come alive in a radio transmission with Bake’s voice and with the music he talks about.
The radiotalk-script I like to present here contains Bake’s thougths on India’s world famous writer, poet, philosopher and Nobelprize winner Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941), in particular on ‘Tagore and his music’ and when I publish this it’s 7 May 2011, precisely the 150th birthday of Tagore. So, yes, this update on the RNHC took me too long, but I think I’m right on time with presenting these particular papers. 🙂
scriptpage 1, click a few times on the photo to enlarge
scriptpage 2, click a few times on the photo to enlarge
scriptpage 3, click a few times on the photo to enlarge
scriptpage 4, click a few times on the photo to enlarge
Let me add that I consider my short writings here on the RNHC as a work in progress. I don’t wanna pretend that I know all the details or have all the answers. That would be stupid and a false claim. If someone sees mistakes or things I overlook or has interesting additional information, please let me know.
* Radio Netherlands and Peter van Hoboken’s son Alexander have given me permission to publish these documents and write about them.
In my work as an archivist at Radio Netherlands I deal with all kinds of audio-material. Apart from a huge record and cd collection, other treasures of the archives are the many thousands of music recordings done by Radio Netherlands (mostly western classical music, but also other genres like jazz and world music) and many thousands of music programmes and all kinds of spoken word programmes. Some of the oldest material is on 78rpm-records, but the vast majority is on tape. All this material is being digitized, and now selections of it are published and can be listened to on the web.
Besides regular news the spoken word programmes are concerned with big national events, dutch society, literature, art, royalty, economy, religion etc., all produced and broadcasted since the birth of Radio Netherlands in 1947. Altogether the Audio Archives of Radio Netherlands provide a unique perspective on the world at large and on the social, cultural and economic dimensions of dutch society since 1947. Since we’re talking about World Radio here, not only in dutch, but also in english, spanish, portuguese, french, surinamese, bahasa indonesia, afrikaans and arabic.
For Holland the Radio Netherlands Archives have always been a sort of ‘hidden treasure’, but recently things have changed. All material is being digitized now and selections are now retrievable/available via internet, thanks to my colleague Martien Sleutjes who’s keeping a weblog and adding material on a daily basis. Though it may concern only selections, among them are real treasures. So, if you’d like to find out how Radio Netherlands reported about the world and dutch society in the past 60 years in different languages, take a dive in the Radio Netherlands Archives and start listening. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll find there, and there’s coming up more all the time!