Willem Kes

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Willem Kes 1895

Willem Kes (born February 16, 1856 in Dordrecht , † February 22, 1934 in Munich ) was a Dutch conductor , violinist and composer .


Kes studied violin at the universities of Leipzig , Brussels (with Henryk Wieniawski ) and Berlin (with Joseph Joachim ). He first played as an orchestral musician and also appeared as a soloist in his home country and in Germany. In 1883 he became the conductor of the orchestra in his hometown of Dordrecht , as well as of the Amsterdam Parkorkest . This orchestra was the direct predecessor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra , it played in the park hall, which was demolished before the Concertgebouw was built. It was not of a high standard, according to contemporary reports. Brahms is said to have said in 1879 that there were nice people living in Amsterdam but bad musicians.

Kes is best known today as the first chief conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra from 1888. Here he introduced strict discipline, punished musicians who came too late and let poorly playing musicians sit with him and practice their voices. He also asked for silence in the audience during the performance, which was by no means a matter of course at the time. With his work, Kes laid the foundation for the quality of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and became internationally known. He therefore left this post in 1895 for the Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow , which had also only been founded a few years earlier and which was more respected at the time. However, in 1898 he moved to the Moscow Philharmonic Society. From 1905 to 1926 he was general music director of the city of Koblenz .

Kes also left behind a number of compositions for a wide variety of instrumentations from organ solo to symphony, all of which are now forgotten. His final resting place is in the south-west cemetery Stahnsdorf .


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