Dresden, Sem, notable Dutch composer and pedagogue; b. Amsterdam, April 20, 1881; d. The Hague, July 30, 1957. He studied composition with Zweers at the Amsterdam Cons., and then composition and conducting with Pfitzner at the Stern Cons, in Berlin (1903–05). Returning to Amsterdam, he was conductor of the Motet and Madrigal Soc. (1914–26); he also taught composition at (1919–24) and was director (1924–37) of the Cons. In 1937 he became director of the Royal Cons, of Music in The Hague, but was removed from his position by the Nazi occupation authorities in 1940; upon the liberation in 1945, he was restored to his position, which he held until 1949. He publ. Het Muziekleven in Nederlands sinds 1880 (Amsterdam, 1923) and Stromingen en Tegenstromingen in de Muziek (Haarlem, 1953); he also rev. Worp’s Algemeene Muziekleer (Groningen, 1931; 9th ed., 1956). His compositions reveal both German and French influences with a distinctive Dutch strain.
DRAMATIC O p e r a : François Villon (1956–57; orchestrated by J. Mul; Amsterdam, June 15, 1958). O p e r e t t a : Toto (1945). ORCH.: Theme and Variations (Amsterdam, March 29, 1914); 2 violin concertos (1936, 1942); Symphonietta for Clarinet and Orch. (1938); Oboe Concerto (1939); Piano Concerto (1942–46); Flute Concerto (1949); Dansflitsen (Dance Flashes; The Hague, Oct. 20, 1951); Organ Concerto (1952–53). CHAMBER: 2 piano trios (1902,1942); Violin Sonata (1905); Trio for 2 Oboes and English Horn (1912); 2 cello sonatas (1916, 1942); Sonata for Flute and Harp (1918); String Quartet (1924); Sonata for Solo Violin (1943); Suite for Cello (1943–47); piano pieces; organ music. VOCAL: Chorus tragicus for Chorus, 5 Trumpets, 2 Bugles, and Percussion (1927); 4 Vocalises for Mezzo-soprano and 7 Instruments (1935); O Kerstnacht for Chorus and Strings (1939); Chorus symphonicus for Soprano, Tenor, Chorus, and Orch. (1943–44; rev. 1955); Psalm 99 for Chorus, Organ, and 4 Trombones (1950); St. Antoine, oratorio (1953); Psalm 84 for Soprano, Tenor, Chorus, and Orch. (1954); Carnival Cantata for Soprano, Men’s Chorus, and Orch. (1954); De wijnen van Bourgondie (The Wines of Burgundy) for Chorus and Orch. (1954); St. Jon’s, oratorio (1955); Catena musicale for Soprano, Woodwind Quartet, String Trio, and Orch. (1956); Rembrandt’s “Saul and David” for Soprano and Orch. (1956); choruses; songs.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire