Clara de Vries-Jazz Musician murdered in Auschwitz.

It is funny sometimes how you are researching one thing and it leads you to something completely different.
I was looking at the origin of a Dutch TV show called ‘Ter land.ter zee en in de lucht” which translates to on the land, in the sea and in the air. It was a light-hearted entertainment show where candidates from all over the Netherlands demonstrate in open air how long and far, they can keep going (sometimes only a few meters) in a self-constructed sort of go-cart, before crashing mostly in to water. But for most it was really more for showing off the design of their ‘vehicles’ rather than winning.
While I was researching it ,I noticed a piece of music used for the show called the beach party, which was performed by a Jazz musician called Willy Schobben, a Jazz trumpetist from Maastricht which is a city I know well because I grew up only a few mile away from it.
When I looked up Willy Schobben, I discovered he married Clara de Vries in 1936, like Willy Clara was also a Jazz trumpetist, and by all accounts an exceptionally talented one. Louis Armstrong once said of her “That Louis de Vries, he had a sister Clara with a ladies-band. Oh boy, she could play that horn!” Her brother Louis, another Trumpetist, was often referred to as the Dutch Louis Armstrong. Unfortunately, he died in a car crash in 1935.
Clara was the sister of Louis de Vries and Jack de Vries, received trumpet lessons from her father Arend de Vries. So, she had quite a musical pedigree.
She played in several Jazz Bands like: Shirmann Jazz Girls; Clara de Vries and her Jazz-ladies; The Rosian Ladies; the Swinging Rascals; and several other bands.

Her talent though was soon to be destroyed, Clara was Jewish and when the German invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940 her fate and that of many other Jews was sealed. Added to that she played Jazz, which was considered degenerate art by the Nazis. Jewish musicians were also forbidden to perform for non-Jewish people and later they were forbidden to perform their art at all
On February 9, 1941 Clara was still giving concerts outside the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam in the Café-Cabaret Alcazar. The NSB, the Dutch Nazis, had heard there was a Jewish musician playing in the club and raided the place. Which led to fights and 23 people were injured.
Clara however, refused to stop playing concerts.
On October 15, 1942 Clara and her family were arrested and sent to Westerbork, A few days later, on October 21 she was put on transport to Auschwitz where she was murdered on arrival a day later, on October 22.
Except for her brother Jakob, all her siblings and parents were murdered.

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sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/507961/about-clara-johanna-suzanna-de-vries


http://www.nettyvanhoorn.nl/sweet_and_hot_music.html

http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/vrouwenlexicon/lemmata/data/Vriesde

Captain Macheath- The story behind Mack the Knife.

knife

Mack the Knife is one of my favourite Jazz songs,  I love the Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong versions equally. It just doesn’t get cooler then that song, sung by those 2 performers, although Sammy Davis Jr, does a pretty cool rendition also.

Even though  I have admired this song for decades. it is only recently I discovered the actual history of the song. I always thought it was written in the 50s.

The song was composed in 1928 in Berlin by Kurt Weil amd Berolt Brecht provided the lyrics.

Weil was Jewish while  Brecht was a Christian, his mother was a Protestant and his Father was Catholic , but he was an opponent  of the Nazi regime and had Marxist sympathies .Both men fled Germany in the early 30s for fear of persecution. They both ended up in the US, although Brecht eventually returned to East Berlin after the war.

They had written the music drama called “The Three penny Opera” which premiered in Berlin in 1928. The song Mack the Knife, or “Die Moritat von Mackie Messe” was part if that opera.

The character Mack the Knife is based on , the dashing highwayman Macheath, from John Gay’s   “The Beggar’s Opera ”

beggar

Although Macheath is a fictional character he is believed to be based on, or at least partially based on Jack Sheppard, an English thief and jail breaker, and also enjoyed the affections of a prostitute, but unlike the character in the song he despised violence.

The Macheath in Mack the Knife is compared with a shark, and it  tells tales of his  numerous  crimes like robberies, murders, rapes, and arson.

And the shark, it has teeth,
And it wears them in the face.
And Macheath, he has a knife,
But the knife can’t be seen.

The song was was translated in 1954 by Marc Blizstein. The nuances of Blitzstein’s  translations are different compared to the original.

Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear,
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jack-knife has Macheath, dear
And he keeps it out of sight.

jack knife

Leaving you with Bobby Darin’s version of the song.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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