Wertheim, Rosalie

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WERTHEIM, ROSALIE (Rosy ) MARIE (1888–1949), composer. Wertheim was born in Amsterdam and exhibited musical gifts from an early age. In addition to studying piano and voice, she studied composition with Bernard Zweers and Sem Dresden. She taught piano and solfege at the Amsterdam Muzieklyceum. Her early interest in social work and concern for the working classes grew into a deep commitment. She taught piano to poor children, supported a number of needy families from her own income, conducted a children's chorus in a low-income neighborhood, and conducted the Jewish women's chorus of the Religieus Socialistisch Verbond in Amsterdam.

In 1929 she moved to Paris to study composition with Louis Aubert. Her home became a haven for Dutch artists and composers, and a veritable salon for leading French composers such as *Milhaud, Honegger, Messiaen, Jolivet, Ibert, and Elsa Barraine. Between 1929 and 1935, her works were frequently included on concert programs in Paris. In 1935 she left Paris for a year in Vienna, studying with Karl Weigl. She spent the next two years in the United States, where her music was well received in the New York Composers' Forum. During her time in the States she also worked as foreign correspondent for Dutch newspapers, as she had done in Paris and Vienna. She returned to Amsterdam to find a quickly deteriorating situation. Forced into hiding during the Nazi occupation, she gave secret concerts in the basement of her home, frequently presenting works by Jewish composers, whose music had been outlawed.

Like many of her Dutch contemporaries in the 1910s and 1920s, Wertheim was drawn to French music, particularly the works of Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky. Among her most successful works were the Piano Concerto, written in 1940 and premiered by the well-known and respected conductor of the Residentie Orchestra, Willem van Otterloo; the Divertimento for Chamber Orchestra (1934) and the String Quartet (1932), both performed in New York; a piano suite; and a Trio for flute, clarinet, and bassoon. Her music is often cheerful, neo-classical in style, and at times quite playful.


"Rosy Wertheim," in: Mens en Melodie 4 (1949), 220; de Ridder, Kate. "Rosy Wertheim," in: De Vrouw en Haar Huis 7 (1948), 252–54. H. Metzelaar, "Rosy Wertheim," in: S. Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (20012), 302.

[Melissa de Graaf (2nd ed.)]