W.A.Mozart :: Symphony n°25, KV 183

dedicated to J.v.Oortmerssen (1950-2015)

On 21 November 2015, Anja and I were having breakfast when the phone rang. The kids were at my mother's place, since we had a concert the evening before with a very late hour of return. The phone showed the number of Jacques, and used to his habit of just starting to talk when he called, assuming you immediately would recognice his voice, I answered by saying 'Hi Jacques, nice to hear you'. It turned out to be his son, Jacques jr.calling with the telephone of his father. Before I realised that fact, he already had phrased his message, that I only understood seconds later, since my brain was still figuring out why Jacques jr. would call with the telephone of his father.
'My father got a stroke last night and died this morning.'
His words slowly entered my head. Anja looked up, worrying.
'Jacques died', was the only thing I could say.

Tomorrow, it'll be one year.

I couldn't let that day pass by without doing 'something'. Jacques probably would have said that I could spend my time with better things than remembering him, but one should not always listen to his teacher. Certainly not on my age.
He was known of course as a great Bach player, and yet I choose to honour him with a transcription of the first part of Mozart's 25th symphony in G Minor. Partly because he simply was one of the best Mozart players, with a superb technique that allowed him to perform that music with an ease and perfection that is beyond words. But also partly because I so much would have liked to have played this work in a 4 hand version with him. On organ. Or pianoforte.
Our last conversation, early October of that year, during a so nice diner with Tony, here at our table, went in that direction. He was about to retire in Amsterdam, so time became available. That will never happen any more, death is such a hateful thing by never ever giving anyone just that one moment any more. So I played it myself alone in honour to him, his friendship and in eternal gratitude for the art and wisdom he passed to me and to so many others.

People like Jacques are rare on this blue planet. As many, I'm still mourning over his loss. But proud and grateful at the same time, to have been so close to him. I'll cherish that memory for the rest of my life.

Our thoughts are with his wife Tony and his two sons.

About this recording:

This recording was made on November 18th, 2016, in the Chapel of the 'Holland College' (Dutch college).

The noise on the recording is caused by the heating system. It was decided not to remove it because that affected the sound of the clavichord as well.

A thank you to Geert Robberechts and the KUL for giving us the opportunity to make this recording in this incredible room.

On "Tony" Jacques van Oortmerssen...

A few words on the one year anniversary of Jacques van Oortmerssen's death. He was a great man, a superb musician, gifted teacher, and a deer friend.
And above all he was a family man... When I entered his organ class in 1990, his two sons must have been around the age of eight and ten I believe. And being in Jacques' organ class, made you part of that family. Even today, with my children at that age, my mind sometimes travels back to those days, showing him talking to his children, addressing issues of, well, let's say, early youngsters,in a way that really impressed me. It's strange to think about this now, but I now realize that I sometimes use the exact same words and even the same gesture when Sofie... well... you know. And it works, just that kiss on her head, letting her know only that you are there for her, not participating in that beginning of discussion, but just hugging and give her the feel that it all is ok, and moreover, that she is ok. I still see Jacques jr. entering the living room in Heemstede in a way that could have been Sofie.

I miss him, and that feeling will probably never dissapear. But more than mourning, I cherish what he gave to me, and to so many. Jacques was always 100% to the people he cared about, and in one way or another, like in the good old French tradition, his students were his children. With 65 years, as young as he was when he died, he had lived three lives. We should be eternally thankful for having known such a great man.

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