ALBERT DE KLERK
Albert de Klerk
De Klerk was the organist at St. Joseph's Church in Haarlem, playing there the Adema organ from the time he was 16 until his death. As the organist of the city of Haarlem, he performed at least 6,400 times, playing a multitude of improvisations. These were the subject of a ...
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Biography Albert de Klerk
De Klerk was the organist at St. Joseph's Church in Haarlem, playing there the Adema organ from the time he was 16 until his death. As the organist of the city of Haarlem, he performed at least 6,400 times, playing a multitude of improvisations. These were the subject of a doctoral thesis in which Gerard Sars concluded: “Improvising as he did renews church music from within so that participants in the liturgy are not alienated.” De Klerk had his own musical language, a moderately modern idiom, with a leaning toward the style of César Franck and Hendrik Andriessen. “De Klerk, who was gifted with absolute pitch and sharp theoretical and practical insight, had a legendary musicality. [...] As an improviser, he was world famous among his colleagues, in part thanks to the Haarlem organ competition each summer, which drew countless organists to the city.” De Klerk was self-taught as a composer.
Albert de Klerk is born on October 4 in Haarlem. His father, the Flemish musician Jos de Klerk (1885-1969), had fled Antwerp to seek safety from the dangers of World War I in Haarlem, where he works as the organist and choral conductor at St. Joseph's Church.
Albert de Klerk takes his first piano lessons with Hendrik Andriessen. From age 14, he is Andriessen's assistant organist at St. Joseph's.
At 16, he succeeds Andriessen as St. Joseph's organist. He goes to the Amsterdam Conservatory and studies the organ with Cornelis de Wolf, Jacob Bijster, and Anthon van der Horst and piano with Anton Tierie, George van Renesse and Willem Smalt.
He graduates cum laude with an award for improvisation.
De Klerk receives the Prix d'Excellence and the Toonkunst Music Prize, but because of the war he can neither continue his studies nor give concerts. Together with Jan Mul and Herman Strategier, he forms the club “Tres Pueri”. They produce clandestine music publications. In 1942, they compose the 'Missa trium puerorum' [Mass of the Three Boys], which they dedicate to the then 50-year-old Andriessen.
De Klerk conducts the Haarlem Catholic Choir, which he founded, and begins teaching the organ at the School for Church Music in Utrecht, something he continues to do until 1964.
He is invited to be a jury member at the Organ Improvisation Competition, an initiative that began in part through his father's efforts in 1951.
Together with Piet Kee, he is named organist of the city of Haarlem. His productivity and improvisational skill are enormous.
His LP 'Die Kleinorgel' (Telefunken) receives an Edison award.
De Klerk begins teaching the organ at the Amsterdam Conservatory, where he trains a generation of distinguished organists, including Hans van Nieuwkoop, Gert Oost and Leo van Doeselaar.
He resigns from the conservatory (now renamed Sweelinck Conservatory). Upon resigning as the city organist of Haarlem, he receives the Jos de Klerk Prize, an award initiated by his father to honour Haarlemmers who have made a special contribution to the city's cultural life.
For his accomplishments as a composer of sacred choral music, he receives the Netherlands Choral Prize.
In honour of his 75th birthday on October 4, the Netherlands Institute for Music gives him a liber amicorum that is published under the title Klerk-werk.
From the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Europäischer Chorverbände, he receives the AEC Preise. On December 1, as he is going home from St. Joseph's, where he still plays every Sunday, Albert de Klerk dies of a cerebral hemorrhage. A memorial relates his thoughts on St. Joseph's Church: “St. Joseph's is where I have spent most of my life. It was there that as an infant being baptised I let loose my first little cries, and it is there that I hope to have my requiem.” After his death, the Andriessen/De Klerk Foundation is begun to preserve the aristic heritage of these two musicians by organizing or supporting a number of concerts of their music each year in Haarlem.
Discography Albert de Klerk
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