Pop/Rock Dance Hiphop Jazz World Classical Contemporary Stage Festival Genre tree


Summary | Biography | Discography | Photos | Audio/Video

Sem Nijveen


24-09-1912 - 21-04-1995


jazz, swing, trompet, viool

Sem Nijveen

Sem Nijveen (Groningen, 24 September 1912 – Hilversum, 21 April 1995) is considered to be one of the best Dutch swing trumpeters before WW II. He has an extraverted style, based on Louis Armstrong and Harry James, but can also play subtly and bluesy, both muted and unmuted. His timing ...
Full biography


trompet, viool

Mentioned in the biography of

1945   Lex van Spall

Biography Sem Nijveen

Sem Nijveen (Groningen, 24 September 1912 – Hilversum, 21 April 1995) is considered to be one of the best Dutch swing trumpeters before WW II. He has an extraverted style, based on Louis Armstrong and Harry James, but can also play subtly and bluesy, both muted and unmuted. His timing and technique are always impeccable. Around 1930 he plays in local dance and entertainment bands in the city of Groningen. In 1933 he moves to the West, where he starts to work with pianist and jazz pioneer John van Brück's band. A brief engagement with bassist Jack de Vries's Internationals follows, until he joins trumpeter Eddy Meenk's A.V.R.O Decibels in 1935. After a stint of a year and a half with this radio band his fame has grown to such an extent that Theo Uden Masman, the pianist-leader of The Ramblers Dance Orchestra, asks him to join his brass section. That fact that Nijveen is also a brilliant hot violin player is an added perk. He sometimes solos in one tune on both instruments. He becomes a highly determining factor in the Ramblers's jazz repertoire. Because of the aryanization of the Dutch entertainment world Sem Nijveen, a Jew, is forced to leave the orchestra in 1941. He goes into hiding, but Masman continues to pay his salary. After the war the trumpeter returns to the Ramblers and continues to stay on for three years, off-and-on. In the meantime he joins the Metropole Orchestra as a violinist. It is a new radio formation led by pianist and arranger Dolf van der Linden. In these years Nijveen can regularly be found in the recording studio alongside the accordionists Johnny Meijer and Harry Mooten, and pianist Pim Jacobs. In 1947 he is one of the first Dutch musicians to make a recording in the new bebop style: Rebop Continental, by Johnny Meijer's quintet. At the insistence of cabaret performer Tom Manders and director Gijs Stappershoef he forms a comical violin duo with his childhood friend and Metropole colleague Benny Behr in 1959. For the next twenty years it is an in demand attraction all over Europe. Singer Josephine Baker is stunned to hear that Nijveen and Behr are from the Netherlands. The duo also performs in Japan and Indonesia. In 1994 the two are the subject of the television documentary Boezemvijanden (Bosom Enemies) by film maker Jan Kelder. By that time Nijveen has stopped playing actively.

Played in

Metropole Orkest   viool
The Ramblers   trompet, viool

1928 - 1933

Groningen impresario Christof Rinket gives violinist Sem Nijveen his first gigs. He works throughout the northern Dutch provinces, and when he has acquired a trumpet, he is one of the first in Groningen to play jazz-like solos, in the Cocktail Band and the Blue Melodeans quintet.

1933 - 1934

Nijveen moves to the West, to join John van Brück's renowned band. The magazine De Jazzwereld gives him a first mention in October 1934: 'Refined improvisations by Huber [Robert Haber] on alto sax and clarinet alternate with raucous solos by Nijveen on trumpet. His playing is marvelous.'


The trumpeter is promoted to Jack de Vries's Internationals, where he replaces Louis de Vries, but after three months he leaves to join the A.V.R.O. Decibels.

1937 - 1941

In October 1937 Nijveen joins The Ramblers. His first violin solo is recorded on 24 March 1938, when the band is backing singer Greta Keller. His first trumpet solo is to follow three months later. Sem Nijveen performs with The Ramblers Dance Orchestra all over Europe. Late 1941 he is forced to leave the orchestra and go into hiding. As a Jew he is not allowed to work under the German occupying regulations.

The Ramblers


After the liberation Nijveen returns to The Ramblers. He manages to combine this for three years with a position in the string section of Dolf van der Linden's new Metropole Orchestra, where he stays on for over thirty years.

Metropole Orkest


During a visit to the US he meets pianist George Shearing, who is quite taken with Nijveen's violin playing. But in spite of the attractive offers he returns to the Netherlands and to the Metropole Orchestra.


Sem Nijveen is considered to be the leader of Romance in Jazz, an experimental medium sized ensemble with strings, winds and a rhythm section, which produces radio concerts during two winter seasons for the VARA broadcasting company from October 1958. Theo Loevendie is the arranger and conductor, Rita Reys the singer, and the other musicians include trumpeter Ado Broodboom, pianist Pim and bassist Ruud Jacobs, and drummer Cees See. Two of the VARA recordings of Romance in Jazz are released by the Nederlands Jazz Archief (Dutch Jazz Archive) on the Rita Reys CD I Got Rhythm in 2005.

Rita Reys Theo Loevendie

1959 - 1979

Benny Behr, with whom he shares the position of concert master of the Metropole Orchestra, becomes Nijveen's partner in a highly successful duo, which combines musicality and humor. They perform all over Europe and the Far East, doing concerts, TV shows and large events.

Benny Behr


Sem Nijveen and Benny Behr are the main characters in Jan Kelder's television documentary Boezemvijanden (Bosom Enemies).


On 21 April Nijveen dies, aged 82.

Discography Sem Nijveen

In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.

Photos Sem Nijveen

Audio/Video Sem Nijveen

No audio- or video material is yet available.
Add audio or video

Add audio or video

Muziekencyclopedie.nl on Facebook Muziekencyclopedie.nl on Twitter