Herman Brood, André Hazes, Wally Tax: Amsterdam has many famous musicians. But the very first popular Amsterdam musician was Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck. Sweelinck was a virtuoso organ player, composer and teacher. He was known far beyond our borders. In October of this year it will be 400 years ago that Sweelinck passed away. The Amsterdam City Archives honors him with the exhibition Sweelinck, City Musician of Amsterdam, 1621-2021, which can be seen from September 17, 2021 to January 9, 2022. Four concerts of the Sweelinck Festival will also take place in the City Archives.
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck was born in 1562 in Deventer, but two years later the family moved to Amsterdam. Here Jan’s father works as a permanent organist of the Oude Kerk. The young Jan inherits his father’s talent and, after his death in 1577, succeeds him as organist of the Oude Kerk at the age of 15. Despite all his later fame, Sweelinck will remain in this job for a long time. When the city council receives prominent guests, Sweelinck is often visited in the Oude Kerk.
Only 2 images of Sweelinck are known: that the artistic blood in the family was apparent from this portrait of Sweelinck from 1606, made by his younger brother the painter Gerrit Pieterszoon Sweelinck.
A composition by Sweelinck, performed on an organ from 1610, comes close to how it sounded in Sweelinck’s time.
Jan married the Medemblik Claesgen Dircx daughter Puyner at the age of 28 and the couple moved to 15 Koestraat, a side street of Kloveniersburgwal near Nieuwmarkt. Here Sweelinck will make music, compose, teach and receive admirers from all over Europe until the end of his life. On October 16, 1621, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck died after a short illness. He is buried in the Oude Kerk, the place where he played the church organ for 44 years.
Koestraat 15, the spot where Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck’s house used to be, has recently appeared, but a plaque next to it still indicates that he lived and played music here.
In addition to his music, Sweelinck lives on in Amsterdam through streets and institutions that are after him, such as the Eerste and Tweede Sweelinckstraat, the Sweelinck College. .
Back to top No, this is not Willem van Oranje but the Amsterdam music legend Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck. The note was in circulation from 1972 and disappeared in 2002 with the introduction of the euro.
In the exhibition ‘Sweelinck, City Musician of Amsterdam, 1621-2021’ in the City Archives, the standout is his vocal music. There are all kinds of pieces on display, from valuable 17th-century studbooks from Switzerland to a recently completed portrait of Sweelinck by Henk Helmantel. Special documents from the City Archives tell about the life and work of Sweelinck in Amsterdam 400 years ago. The exhibition is free to visit and can be seen from September 17, 2021 to January 9, 2022. The Sweelinck Festival will also organize various concerts and concerts from October 16 – 24, 2021. Four of the concerts will take place in the Amsterdam City Archives, on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 October.