John van Kesteren

Last updated

John van Kesteren (May 4, 1921 in The Hague – July 11, 2008 in Jupiter, Florida) was a Dutch operatic tenor. [1] [2]

The Hague City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

The Hague is a city on the western coast of the Netherlands and the capital of the province of South Holland. It is also the seat of government of the Netherlands.

Jupiter, Florida Town in Florida, United States

Jupiter is the northernmost town in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. According to a 2017 Census Bureau estimate, the town had a population of 64,976. It is 87 miles north of Miami, and the northernmost community in the Miami metropolitan area, home to 6,012,331 people in a 2015 Census Bureau estimate. Jupiter was rated as the 12th Best Beach Town in America by WalletHub in 2018, and as the 9th Happiest Seaside Town in America by Coastal Living in 2012.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.



Van Kesteren first worked as an electronic telex specialist for the Dutch Telegraph Company PTT. His very first appearance as a non-professional singer was in 1942 with an operetta company in Apeldoorn in the French operetta The Bells of Corneville . During World War II he appeared in five French and German operettas. From 1946 on he studied at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague with the bass Willem Ravelli. He went on to study with Prof. Dr. Lothar Wallerstein of the Vienna State Opera.

Telex switched network of teleprinters

The telex network was a public switched network of teleprinters similar to a telephone network, for the purposes of sending text-based messages. Telex was a major method of sending written messages electronically between businesses in the post-World War II period. Its usage went into decline as the fax machine grew in popularity in the 1980s.

Operetta opera genre

Operetta is a genre of light opera, light in terms both of music and subject matter.

Apeldoorn City and Municipality in Gelderland, Netherlands

Apeldoorn is a municipality and city in the province of Gelderland in the centre of the Netherlands. It is a regional centre. The municipality of Apeldoorn, including villages like Beekbergen, Loenen, Ugchelen and Hoenderloo, had a population of 160,852 in 2017. The western half of the municipality lies on the Veluwe ridge, the eastern half lies in the IJssel valley. John Berends of the CDA is the mayor of Apeldoorn.

He made his operatic debut in 1947 in Scheveningen, the Netherlands with the ensemble of Vienna State Opera as the Italian singer in Der Rosenkavalier, a production with Anni Konetzni, Fritz Krenn and Hilde Güden. In 1949, he got another unique chance when world-famous conductor Erich Kleiber asked him to audition for the roles of the young sailor and Melot in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde , in a production by the Wagner Society in Amsterdam, once again, directed by Lothar Wallerstein. His partners were Kirsten Flagstad, Max Lorenz and Hans Hotter. In 1947, his concert career started in Switzerland in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis under the direction of Charles Münch.

Scheveningen District in South Holland, Netherlands

Scheveningen[ˈsxeːvənɪŋə(n)](listen) is one of the eight districts of The Hague, Netherlands, as well as a subdistrict (wijk) of that city. Scheveningen is a modern seaside resort with a long, sandy beach, an esplanade, a pier, and a lighthouse. The beach is popular for water sports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding.

<i>Der Rosenkavalier</i> opera by Richard Strauss

Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59, is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is loosely adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Molière's comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac. It was first performed at the Königliches Opernhaus in Dresden on 26 January 1911 under the direction of Max Reinhardt, Ernst von Schuch conducting. Until the premiere the working title was Ochs auf Lerchenau.

Erich Kleiber Austrian conductor

Erich Kleiber was an eminent Austrian conductor and a composer.

After completing his studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and Vera Schwarz in Salzburg, Van Kesteren was invited in 1954 to Berlin's Komische Oper to sing Nurreddin in Cornelius's The Barber of Baghdad under the direction of Walter Felsenstein and to sing the title role in the first performance in Germany of Rossini's Le comte Ory under the direction of Carl Ebert at the Stadtische Oper in 1956. In 1959 he moved to Munich at the invitation of both the German National Theatre and the Theater am Gartnerplaz, where he remained for seventeen years singing 33 opera's and operettas.

Nadia Boulanger French musician and teacher

Juliette Nadia Boulanger was a French composer, conductor, and teacher. She is notable for having taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century. She also performed occasionally as a pianist and organist.

Salzburg City in Austria

Salzburg, literally "salt castle", is the fourth-largest city in Austria and the capital of Federal State of Salzburg.

Peter Cornelius Composer from Germany

Carl August Peter Cornelius was a German composer, writer about music, poet and translator.

As a lyric tenor with a remarkable range in the upper register, he specialized in roles that are generally difficult to cast, in both the 18th and 19th-century repertoire, including Jean Ph. Rameau's Platée, Rossini's Le Comte Ory and Chapelou in Adam's Le Postillon de Longjumeau, and 20th-century works, ranging from roles in Richard Strauss's operas and Carl Orffs Carmina Burana to Sinopoli's Lou Salome. Carl Orff, who later became a close friend, would write to people anywhere in the world planning to perform Carmina Burana saying that John van Kesteren was his favourite "Roasted Swan". He also performed this role in the award winning movie of the cantata together with Hermann Prey, Lucia Popp and director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and conductor Kurt Eichhorn.

Carl Orff German composer

Carl Heinrich Maria Orff was a German composer and music educator, best known for his cantata Carmina Burana (1937). The concepts of his Schulwerk were influential for children's music education.

<i>Carmina Burana</i> (Orff) Cantata

Carmina Burana is a scenic cantata composed in 1935 and 1936 by Carl Orff, based on 24 poems from the medieval collection Carmina Burana. Its full Latin title is Carmina Burana: Cantiones profanae cantoribus et choris cantandae comitantibus instrumentis atque imaginibus magicis. It was first performed in Frankfurt on 8 June 1937. It is part of Trionfi, a musical triptych that also includes Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite. The first and last movements of the piece are called "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi" and start with the very well known "O Fortuna".

Hermann Prey opera singer

Hermann Prey was a German lyric baritone, who was equally at home in the Lied, operatic and concert repertoires. His American debut was in November 1952, with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy, and his American recital debut took place in 1956, at New York's Carnegie Hall. As a Lieder singer, he was a gifted interpreter of Schubert, including his song-cycles Die schöne Müllerin and Die Winterreise and the collection of songs Schwanengesang, as well as of Robert Schumann, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler. He also appeared frequently as a soloist in Bach's Passions and Brahms' A German Requiem.

In later years Van Kesteren specialized in character parts, as well as singing a wide concert repertoire that included hundreds of appearances as the Evangelist in Bach's St Matthew Passion . At Benjamin Britten's suggestion to conductor Herbert von Karajan he sang at first German performance of Britten's War Requiem with the Berlin Philharmonic. With van Karajan and the same orchestra, Van Kesteren sang at the 25th commemoration in Beethoven's ninth symphony and Missa Solemnis in Hiroshima and sang the Evangelist in the first Russian performance of the St Matthew Passion in Moscow.

Evangelist (Bach) tenor part in Bachs oratorios and Passions

The Evangelist in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach is the tenor part in his oratorios and Passions who narrates the exact words of the Bible, translated by Martin Luther, in recitative secco. The part appears in the works St John Passion, St Matthew Passion, and the Christmas Oratorio, as well as the St Mark Passion and the Ascension Oratorio Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen, BWV 11. Some cantatas also contain recitatives of Bible quotations, assigned to the tenor voice.

Johann Sebastian Bach German composer

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Art of Fugue, the Brandenburg Concertos, and the Goldberg Variations as well as for vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach Revival he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.

<i>St Matthew Passion</i> passion by Johann Sebastian Bach

The St Matthew Passion, BWV 244, is a Passion, a sacred oratorio written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1727 for solo voices, double choir and double orchestra, with libretto by Picander. It sets chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of Matthew to music, with interspersed chorales and arias. It is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of classical sacred music. The original Latin title Passio Domini nostri J.C. secundum Evangelistam Matthæum translates to "The Passion of our Lord J[esus] C[hrist] according to the Evangelist Matthew".

In 1974, Van Kesteren was officially invited to start a revival of cultural ties between the Netherlands and Indonesia, presenting concerts, radio and television programmes. He sang concerts and opera in among other cities, London, Tokyo, Melbourne, Rome, Berlin, Paris, Oslo etc. The Bavarian government named him Kammersänger. He was an Officer in the order of the Royal Dutch House of Orange-Nassau. and the German government bestowed upon him the Bundesverdienstkreuz first class. Until his death in 2008, John van Kesteren lived in, Jupiter, Florida with his wife Louise. He continued to sing into his eighties. van Kesteren's last major performance was a solo recital for the inauguration of Palm Beach Atlantic University's Helen K. Persson Recital Hall in 2000.

Related Research Articles

Ernst Haefliger was a Swiss tenor.

Gundula Janowitz is a German-born Austrian lyric soprano singer of operas, oratorios, lieder, and concerts. She is one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century and was pre-eminent in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jean-Pierre Ponnelle French opera director

Jean-Pierre Ponnelle was a French opera director, set and costume designer.

Jozef Kundlák Slovak opera singer

Jozef Kundlák is a Slovak tenor.

Rockland Osgood American lyric tenor

Rockland Osgood is a contemporary American lyric tenor who has distinguished himself in a wide variety of musical idioms from the Baroque to the latest in Contemporary compositions. He is frequently praised for his exemplary musicianship, eloquence of expression, and immaculate diction.

Janice Harsanyi was a soprano singer and college professor.

Daniel Nazareth was an Indian composer and conductor.

Lawrence Brownlee is an American operatic tenor particularly associated with the bel canto repertoire. Describing his voice, Speight Jenkins, general director of the Seattle Opera, said: "There are other singers that sing this repertory very well, but I don't think anyone else has quite as beautiful a sound and as rounded a tone," and praise his "incredible top notes", adding about his high F (F5) in "Credeasi, misera": "With him it's not a scream, it's a beautiful sound." Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato adds: "He is always in service of the music. His natural instrument is just incredibly beautiful. The word 'honey' comes to mind. He also has technical prowess and agility."

Donald George is an American operatic tenor. He is a Professor of Voice at State University of New York, Potsdam's Crane School of Music. He has performed in major opera houses and concert halls of Europe.

Axel Köhler is a German countertenor and opera director. In 1994, he won the Handel Music Prize. Since 2009, he has been Artistic Director of the Halle Opera House.

Werner Krenn is an Austrian tenor.

Kyu-Won Han is a Korean-American baritone who has had an active international opera career for the last two decades.

Rodrigo Orrego was born in Santiago de Chile. He studied musical history and voice at the Universidad Católica de Chile and graduated afterwards with Prof. Aldo Baldin at the Musikhochschule Karlsruhe, Germany.

Frank Porretta Jr. was an American tenor who had an active career performing in operas, musicals, and concerts from 1952 through 1971. He had a particularly fruitful relationship with the New York City Opera from 1956 to 1970 where he sang a highly diverse repertoire; including roles in new operas by composers Norman Dello Joio, Carlisle Floyd, Vittorio Giannini, and Robert Ward. For the NBC Opera Theatre he portrayed The Astronaut in the world premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti's Labyrinth.

Trudeliese Schmidt was a German operatic mezzo-soprano who had an international career, performing at major opera houses and festivals in Europe. The singer with a remarkable stage presence excelled in trouser roles such as Cherubino, Idamante, Hänsel, Octavian and the composer in Ariadne auf Naxos. She performed in premieres of operas by Isang Yun and Manfred Trojahn.

Mark Milhofer is an English operatic tenor, who has performed at major international opera houses, beginning his career in Italy. Besides the standard repertoire, the singer has appeared in historically informed performances such as Monterverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, in 20th-century operas by Benjamin Britten and Gian Carlo Menotti, and in premieres of new operas.

Paris Choral Society

The Paris Choral Society is an auditioned amateur choir based at the American Cathedral in Paris, France.

Ferry Gruber was an Austrian-German tenor in opera and operetta. A member of both the Bavarian State Opera and Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich for half a century, he focused on roles of the buffo genre and operetta. He made recordings, appeared on radio and television, performed internationally at major opera houses and festivals, and worked also as an operetta director and a private voice teacher. He was a favourite with the audience, and received the title Kammersänger.


  1. John van Kesteren (Tenor) Biography
  2. (in Dutch) Tenor John van Kesteren (87) overleden Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine De Pers July 13, 2008