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Jan van Gilse (1881-1944) a Dutch composer and conductor, began serving as director of the Utrecht Conservatory in 1933, a post he accepted upon leaving Berlin after the rise of the Nazi regime. In 1935 van Gilse founded the Stichting Nederlandse Muziekbelangen [Dutch Musical Interests], a foundation to promote the performance of Dutch music. A strongly independent spirit, van Gilse refused to join the Kulturkammer, a condition of publication and performance under the Third Reich; his work was banned as a consequence. Along with both his sons, van Gilse became active in the Dutch resistance. By 1942 it was necessary for both the composer and his wife to go into hiding. Following his son’s executions in 1943 and 1944, Van Gilse was admitted to hospital under a false name. Van Gilse was ultimately buried in an unmarked grave in order to protect those who had been helping him.


Leo Smit Foundation website. Accessed 2 June 2017.

[photo of Jan van Gilse]. n.d. Web. 15 June, 2017.