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.
By the end of 2018 a friend of mine, Henk Braaksma, who’s been collecting Indian Classical Music (ICM) since the late nineteen-fifties, made me an offer to acquire/buy over his fabulous ICM-collection, consisting of mainly lp’s and tapes, containing most interesting and many great recordings in very good quality and everything very well documented and catalogued as well. Of course I was very enthusiastic and I eagerly accepted his offer, which makes me the proud owner of the ‘Braaksma ICM Collection’. In November 2019 I did a short talk on this collection for a small audience of ethnomusicologists/cultural musicologists and I showed them this video during that presentation.
In this documentary – produced and directed by me – I explore the dimensions of a cultural musicology, through covering debates of musicologists on a wide range of topics at a symposium (Göttingen, September 2012), a workshop (Amsterdam, November 2012) and a panel session (Leiden, March 2013) and through interviews with five renowned musicologists (Birgit Abels, Tomie Hahn, Lawrence Kramer, Wim van der Meer, John Richardson).
The film has the following outline/chapters: Introduction | Musicology and its subdivisions | What’s in a name? (or, what’s wrong with ‘ethnomusicology’?) | Music as cultural practice | Sensational knowledge | Music(ology) in post colonial discourse and cultural theory | The transformation of the idea of culture in (new) musicology | Framing | World Order | Planetary | Power, Institutions, Orthodoxies | Musicologica | Sharing knowledge… how and with whom? | Music and its representations | Shruti | Embracing restlessness | Final notes | End credits (+ some funny stuff) ||
Filmed in 2012 and 2013 in Göttingen, Amsterdam and Leiden.
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.
Recently published on YouTube in two videos: selected segments of unique footage from 1972 of the legendary Balinese composer, musician, dancer I Wayan Lotring (approx.1898-1983).
Lotring is arguably Bali’s most influential gamelan composer/musician of the twentieth century. And of course a great dancer as well. We see Lotring at old age dancing and playing his own compositions with fellow musicians. When playing, we see Lotring mostly as the leader of the ensemble, playing the kendang (drum). Segments are shown of the famous 1972 performances that have been published on Ocora in 1974 (rereleased in 1989). Below you’ll find part two. At 2’40” in this video the famous piece ‘Gambangan’ is played and from 6’16” there’s my very favourite piece ‘Liar Samas’ 🙂
Great as this footage of Lotring might be, there are also two regrettable minuses regarding this material:
1. It’s in black and white (filmed from a black and white tv screen?). I can’t imagine (ethno)musicologist Jacques Brunet shot this material in black and white. Moreover, his recordings of these sessions are presented on Ocora along with colour photos in the cd booklet.
2. Sound and image are not sync. It would be very easy to correct this. I’m always surprised to see this. Why do uploaders not correct this before they publish? As a consequence we don’t get to see the real artistic beauty of Lotring’s dancing along with the music and of his (drum)playing with the orchestra. Ooooww!!! 🙁