Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Takumi Taguchi, violin
Recorded November 5, 2017 at Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, Benaroya Hall
Marius Flothuis (b. Amsterdam, 1914 – d. Amsterdam, 2001) played an important part in the musical life of the Netherlands through much of the 20th century. Largely self-taught as a composer, he was also a musical scholar, educator and critic. The Concertgebouw Orchestra, under Eduard van Beinum, introduced his four “Morgenstern Songs” in 1939, after some of Flothuis’s early chamber works had been performed at concerts of the Dutch Society for Contemporary Music.Soon after Nazi Germany overran the Netherlands, all people active in the arts were required to register in the Reichskulturkammer (chamber of culture) and declare their loyalty to the occupying regime. Flothuis, whose father-in-law was Jewish, refused, costing him his position in the Concertgebouw’s artistic management. He threw himself into a life on the fringes at great personal risk, sheltering Jews going into hiding and organizing concerts to help support the anti-Nazi resistance. In September 1943 he was betrayed, and sent to the Vught concentration camp in the Netherlands. As Allied forces approached in 1944, the camp was evacuated and its prisoners sent to Sachsenhausen, near Berlin. Soon after arriving in Sachsenhausen, Flothuis was assigned to the Heinkel aircraft factory, but since it had been bombed there was little work to be done. The barrack where he was housed with other musicians lacked a piano for him to play, but he wrote missing parts and musical arrangements for his fellow prisoners and composed at least 18 works, including the Duettino that we hear this evening. In the final weeks of the war, the Germans abandoned Sachsenhausen and Flothuis survived the “death march” to Schwerin, where he was liberated by Soviet soldiers. He carried his "Oranienburger Notenbuch" – including the Duettino - with him on the march. We do not know whether the piece had been performed in the camp. In the late 1950s and the 1960s it was played often by the violin duo Jeanne Vos and Bouw Lemkes.