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Tim Reynish July 2016

Wonderful research is going on by Troy Bennefield into two outstanding composers who were murdered in concentration camp during World War II, details of whom can be found by clicking on LEO SMIT FOUNDATION .

LEO SMIT Born 1900 Amsterdam died 1943 Sobibor

Leo Smit wrote his Concerto for Piano and Wind in 1937 and there is a fine recording on Youtube; browse on CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND WIND to hear this. The style owes much to the jazz idioms used in the 1930’s, and we are reminded of composers like Stravinsky, Martinu, Schulhoff, Milhaud, Auric and others of Les Six, full of energetic rhythms and pithy tunes.

It is scored for double wind with piccolo and cor anglais doublings, 3 horns, two trumpets, trombone, tuba, timpani, cello and double bass and the duration is 16.00. It is available from Donemus.

Smit was born in Amsterdam, studied and worked there, making a debut with the Concertgebouw in 1925 with his student piece, Silhouettes, which was criticised for its use of jazz idioms; in 1927 he moved to Paris where he remained for nine years, coming under the heady influence of Les Six and in particular Milhaud. In 1937 he made the fatal move back to Amsterdam, was eventually rounded up by the Gestapo and sent to Sobibor

The article on Smit in the Leo Smit Foundation runs thus:

Leo Smit composed in a neoclassical style, often in C major. He was also inspired by the new music of his time; many of his works contain the jazz rhythms and harmonies that he enjoyed so much. Smit’s style is very French, reminiscent of Ravel and Debussy; but there is also something of Hindemith in the Concerto for Viola, and Stravinsky in the Clarinet Trio. Altogether his music is warm, melodious, full of variety, classical in form with interesting harmonies. Before 1940 Smit had already written a number of major works; the Sextet (1932) for five wind instruments and piano,the Symphony in C (1936), the Concerto for Piano and Wind (1937) and the Concerto for Viola and Strings (1940)

Smit composed the exuberant Sextet for Wind Quintet and Piano in 1933 and dedicated it to the Concertgebouw Sextet. The work sparkles with energy and lush extended harmonies, and the second movement contains a hauntingly beautiful oboe line. The out movements are filled with jaunty rhythms that show Smit’s fascination with jazz and other popular styles, and easily call to mind the eclecticism of the Paris musical world that he loved.

Sextet for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn and piano by LEO SMIT

The Sextet is in three movements – allegro vivace – lento – vivace, and lasts 14 minutes and is a fine companion piece for the Poulenc Sextet, and a full performance can be heard on the Donemus Webshop catalogue. It is a tremendous find, witty, romantic, beautifully scored, very French in style with echoes of Les Six, well worth acquiring for any group.

It is available from Donemus, as are many of the works mentioned in this article.

DICK KATTENBERG Born 1919 Amsterdam died 1943 Auschwitz

Dick Kattenberg was born in Amsterdam and studied in Antwerp and the Hague; for some time he worked with Willem Pijper. He wrote some thirty wsorks, most of them during the war. In 1944 he was captured and deported to Auschwitz, where he was exterminated at the age of just twenty five. In addition to the Divertimento for Wind Quintet being edited by Troy Bennefield, wrote a Quartet for flute, violin, cello and piano, and a Flute Sonata, available from Donemus.