monuments #5: ton koopman

15 October 2021

On Friday 15 October Ton Koopman will give an organ concert in the Monuments series. At this moment, time will stand still for an hour and history will resonate intensely thanks to the magnificent acoustics of the Oude Kerk.

On the eve of the 400th anniversary of the death of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621), organist Ton Koopman (1944) will play a programme of music by Sweelinck and his contemporaries. Sweelinck was the organist of the Oude Kerk for 40 years and worked in a time of great social contrasts. A fierce debate raged about free will (can people choose their actions, or is their doing good or evil predetermined?). The Oude Kerk changed from a Roman Catholic church to a Protestant church overnight and the Netherlands declared its independence in 1581. Sweelinck was 19 at the time and had already been the organist of the Oude Kerk for several years. Next, he continued to play and compose undisturbedly for 40 years, it seems. Musicians from all over Europe came to Sweelinck to learn to play the organ and a lively musical practice developed in the Oude Kerk pertaining to the first public concerts in Northern Europe. Sweelinck played the organ daily and people would walk around in the church and listen to his music. This concert is played on the transept organ in meantone temperament: tuned to the pitch of the sixteenth century.

Ton Koopman is one of the great pioneers and advocates of early music and has been regarded as an authority for many decades. During his international career as an organist, harpsichordist, conductor and researcher, Johann Sebastian Bach’s oeuvre became the epicentre of his work and life. He has performed all over the world, both as a soloist and with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, which he founded. He received an honorary doctorate from Utrecht University and is a professor at Leiden University. In June 2006 he was awarded the prestigious Bach Medal of the city of Leipzig, the place where Johann Sebastian Bach lived, worked and performed from 1723 until his death in 1750.

monuments #5
15 October, 8.15 p.m.