Kooromgang 99, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

Arts and heritage
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) was one of the greatest composers the Netherlands has ever known. During his lifetime, he was the Oude Kerk’s organist and the pivot of the Amsterdam music scene. Young organists from all over Europe came to Amsterdam to learn from him and he exerted a great influence on the music of his contemporaries and of composers that came after him. Sweelinck played the organ of the Oude Kerk almost every day, thereby becoming one of the first to hold concerts that were open to the public. Whereas previously, music was played in the street, behind the closed doors of the court or during church services, people could now just walk into the Oude Kerk and enjoy a concert every day. Sweelinck’s work and the concert’s he gave are an important starting point for the music programme in the Oude Kerk to this day. Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck also embodies the upheaval of the Reformation in the Oude Kerk, having lived across the two eras. Sweelinck was a young Catholic composer and organist, who no longer played during church services after 1578: from then on people sang a capella. On listening to his settings of psalms for multiple voices one hears the work of a brilliant mind, who with splendid arrangements introduced the new psalm book of Geneva’s Protestant Reformers to the people of Amsterdam.