Rosy Wertheim

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Rosy Wertheim, painted by Jan Veth in 1912 . Joods Historisch Museum , Amsterdam

Rosalie Marie Wertheim , mostly called Rosy Wertheim , ( February 19, 1888 in Amsterdam - May 27, 1949 in Laren ) was a Dutch composer , pianist and music teacher .


Wertheim was the daughter of Johann Gustaaf Wertheim and Adriana Roza Wertheim born. Enthoven. Her father and grandfather Abraham Carel Wertheim were respected bankers in Amsterdam. She attended a French boarding school in Neuilly, where she also received piano lessons. She graduated from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam , where she studied piano with Ulfert Schults and with Sem Dresden and Bernard Zweers harmony and counterpoint . In 1921 she passed the state exam in piano playing with the Koninklijke Nederlandse Toonkunstenaars Vereniging , the Royal Dutch Association of Tonkünstlervereinigung.

From 1921 to 1929 she taught at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, composed songs and choral works , and directed women's and children's choirs. Among them was the children's choir Eilandkinderen ( Inselkinder ) consisting of Jewish children from the poorer districts of Amsterdam. In 1929 Wertheim went to Paris for six months , but stayed there for six years. In addition to her compositional work, she reported on Parisian musical life for the Amsterdam daily Het Volk and studied composition and instrumentation with the composer Louis Aubert . Her apartment became a meeting place for numerous artists, including fellow composers Honegger , Ibert , Messiaen and Milhaud . A particularly close friendship developed with the French composer Elsa Barraine . Wertheim's works from this period, all in the neoclassical style , are characterized by their lightness and playful attitude, harmoniously based on the French impressionists .

In 1935 she went to Vienna for a year to study counterpoint with Karl Weigl . The following year she traveled to New York to teach and to prepare performances of her own works. Her string quartet from 1931 and the Divertimento for chamber orchestra as well as a number of piano works were performed at a concert by the Composers' Forum Laboratory .

In 1937 she returned to her hometown of Amsterdam. In 1940 the Residentie Orkest played its piano concerto, conducted by Willem van Otterloo . After Germany's invasion of the Netherlands , it held secret concerts in its basement, mostly with forbidden works by Jewish composers. At the beginning of the German occupation, she was still involved in the resistance and hid persecuted people in her basement. From June 1942, Wertheim had to hide in different places because of her Jewish origin, mostly in Het Gooi and Amstelveen . On several occasions she exposed herself and the families who hid her to great danger through thoughtless excursions. Nevertheless, she survived the Nazi regime , while the majority of her family was abducted and murdered by the National Socialists. After the end of the Nazi occupation she taught at a music school in Laren, but soon fell seriously ill. For the last few years of her life she was bedridden.

After her death, Max Vredenburg wrote in the Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad (Neue Israelitische Wochenblatt) that her work was still being neglected in the Netherlands. Rosy Wertheim wrote over ninety pieces of music, most of which are undated.

Characteristics of their compositions

The flautist Eleonore Pameijer describes the composer's style as follows: “Rosy Wertheim wrote particularly lyrical music. She was gifted with a very complex sense of harmony . Initially she concentrated on the late Romanticism , for some time she flirted with the octatonic , which was very popular in the Netherlands in the 1920s (heard among others in the compositions of Sem Dresden and Leo Smit ). Her stay in France had a major impact on her later work. (...) Your compositions are never easy or straightforward; she writes multi-layered music, looking for the depths and heights in a way that reminds a little of Brahms . It's not small gestures, but big ones. Even in her simplest songs, Rosy Wertheim always shows complex layers. "


“During the war my compositions were still being performed in this country, but of course I couldn't be present, and I was also performed in America. The Germans stole all my possessions and all my books - but now they are gone and I am trying to put in order what is left of my life. "

- Rosy Wertheim : 1948 in an interview with Kate de Ridder in "De vrouw en hair huis"

Works (selection)

  • Cello Sonata, around 1921
  • Two songs, 1922:
    • I. It rustles and rustles
    • II. The island of oblivion
  • Sonatina for cello and piano, 1930
    Allegro appassionato, Intermezzo, Finale
  • Sonata for piano and violin, 1931
    Allegro con brio, Andante non troppo lento, Allegro con moto
  • String quartet, 1931
    Allegro con moto, Intermezzo, Allegro energico
  • Four songs based on Dutch poems, 1933
    • I. Scherzo (Text: Anthonie Donker)
    • II. Het Narrenschip (Text: Roel Houwink)
    • III. Zang van Salome (Text: Ada Gerlow)
    • IV. Not yet determined
  • Trois Morceaux for flute and piano, 1939
    Cortège des Marionetten, Pastorale, Capriccio
  • Trois Chansons for soprano, flute and harp, 1939:
    • I. La Danse des Dieux
    • II. Les Deux Flutes
    • III. Sur les Bords du Jo-Jeh
Without dating
  • Concerto for pianoforte and orchestra
  • Divertimento for chamber orchestra
  • Six Morceaux for solo piano
  • Three Preludes for 'Lancelot'
    Andante, Andante quasi andantino, Allegro molto ma non agitato

Source for the catalog raisonné:


  • Julie Anne Sadie, Rhian Samuel: The Norton / Grove Dictionary of Women Composers , Norton, New York 1995, ISBN 0-333-51598-6
  • Melissa De Graaf: Rosy Wertheim (1888-1949) . Jewish Music WebCenter ( [PDF; accessed May 20, 2019]).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Isolde Weiermüller-Backes: Rosy Wertheim's résumé , on Klassika, the German-language classical pages, last change on February 16, 2011, accessed on October 31, 2016
  2. a b c d e Leo Smit Foundation: Rosy Wertheim (1888–1949) , accessed on October 20, 2016.
  3. ^ Jewish Music WebCenter: Marie Wertheim, Rosalie , accessed October 20, 2016.
  4. ^ Lexicon of persecuted musicians from the Nazi era (University of Hamburg): Rosy Wertheim , accessed on October 31, 2016.
  5. This text was written in 2007 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Leo Smit Foundation. The author relied on publications by Helen Metzelaar, Pauline Micheels and Wim de Vries .
  6. Quoted here. according to MUGI (Music and Gender on the Internet): Rosy Wertheim , accessed on October 31, 2016.
  7. Label Etcetera: Forbidden Music In World War II, Dutch Composers , accessed on October 7, 2016.