Bernhard van den Sigtenhorst Meyer (1888-1953)

Bernhard Meijer, who called himself with the names of both parents Van den Sigtenhorst Meyer, was son of an Amsterdam merchant. He has studied at the Amsterdam Conservatory with J.B. de Pauw (piano), Julius Röntgen (chamber music) and Bernard Zweers (composition). He continued his studies in Paris, Brussels, Munich and Vienna.

He has worked as a music teacher in The Hague since 1918. His life companion was the artist-singer Rient van Santen, with whom he has often performed in concert between 1916 and 1927. Their residence in The Hague contained a concert room, which had a certain fame as an artistic meeting point.

Van Santen, a collector of oriental art and antiques who had visited Java and Japan, stimulated Van den Sigtenhorst’s interest in oriental culture, which manifested itself in series of contemplative, impressionistically coloured short piano pieces and songs. In 1923 they undertook a trip to the Dutch Indies, which was not highly successful as a concert tour, but provided for Sigtenhorst a first direct experience of Buddhist culture.
In the following years orientalism has disappeared from his work. Through his studies of renaissance and early baroque polyphony contrapuntal elements in his work became stronger. His interest in the music of Sweelinck produced the monographies Jan P. Sweelinck en zijn instrumentale muziek (1934) and De vocale muziek van Jan P. Sweelinck (1948). After these well-received publications he was charged with the continuation of the Sweelinck edition of the Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis (VNM), of which he has been on the board since 1931. In the same period he composed his composition on texts by the 17th Century poet Jan Lukens, for solo voice and choir with organ accompaniment (Geestelijke liederen, 1924, 1929, 1932; Jesus en de Ziel’(1938)). Van Santen’s death in 1943 during forced evacuation is reflected in the Second String Quartet.

Van den Sigtenhorst Meyer lead a somewhat retired life. His main source of income were private lessons and lectures. In spite of this his music was highly respected, and he was considered one of the foremost composers of his generation.

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