James van Houten
(Aalsmeer, Netherlands, 9 August 1952) was born in a bilingual
Scottish-Dutch family. His father was a theologian, church minister,
philosopher and historian. His mother was an Edinburgh born violin-cellist.
He has widely travelled, particularly to the UK and the former USSR
in order to write books on Leonid Trauberg and Dmitry Shostakovich,
and to the USA and Canada studying the music of Charlie Chaplin, and
He spent long periods in Edinburgh, Scotland, up to 1960, taking his
first piano lessons at six from Jaap Biesheuvel, at Aalsmeer. While
taking a degree in social studies (CICSA Amsterdam) he studied singing
with Frans Bocxe, and later read musicology and art history in Amsterdam.
In 1973, as a trainee working with the Gelders Orkest he discovered
the quintessence of Elgar's famous enigma, which was published
in Music Review when he was still a musicology freshman.
The revealing analysis of the 'Enigma' associated with Elgar's famous
orchestral 'Variations on an Original Theme' Op. 36 was published
in Music Review, Vol. 37-2, May 1976, pp. 130-142. The famous article
was translated and quoted all over the world and used by Leonard Bernstein
in one of his famous TV-programmes. See e.g.: - Kennedy, Michael -
Portrait of Elgar, 2nd ed, London, 1982, p. 85. - Musical America
(Denis Stevens), November 1989. Julian Rushton – Enigma Variations,
1999. BBC Radio gave it a website.
Theodore van Houten has since worked as a producer of music and theatrical
events (live cinema) music, and as a freelance writer and translator
and editor for Kluwerpers Publishers (1976-1978), Frits Knuf Musicology
Publishers (1991-93), IB Books and Van Gruting, where some of his
own books were published. Moreover he has worked as publicity and
PR man for various semi-governmental bodies. He translates dialogues
and writes liner notes for Moskwood Media, a well-known publishing
house of art films.
1978-1981 he worked as staff member for contemporary music at the
Rotterdamse Kunst Stichting / Rotterdam Arts Council. Here he produced
several large scale festivals (Berio in Rotterdam, Penderecki in Rotterdam,
Nederland in Rotterdam) with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
He was then invited as a staff member (1981-1986) of the Brabant Orchestra
Since 1976 he has also worked as a freelance broadcaster, mainly for
KRO, VPRO and NPS Radio 4, producing programmes on various subjects
such as the music of WW I, musical life in WW II concentration camps,
the French Revolution, film and cinema music, etc. He produced programmes
for Flemish BRT Radio and was invited by both Radio France and the
BBC for his production ‘ODNA’, the live music cinema screening
of a Soviet-Russian classic.
Theodore van Houten has produced many large scale 'live screenings'
of film classics. He collected the supposedly lost original Meisel
score for Eisenstein's classic 'The Battleship Potemkin' (edited and
conducted by Alan Fearon). Another great project was the 1983 presentation
of L'Herbier's film 'El Dorado' with the original Gaillard score for
large orchestra. With Russian film director Leonid Trauberg (1901-1990)
he realized many presentations of' The New Babylon' (1929) with Shostakovich's
Theodore van Houten was artistic director of the Film in Concert Foundation
(formerly: Silent Cinema Music Live Foundation).
Since 1973 he has been active as a producer in the fields of classical
music, theatre and live cinema. He worked at the Gaudeamus Competitions
in Rotterdam, and festivals featuring composers including Krzysztof
Penderecki, Luciano Berio, Dmitry Shostakovitch, Peter Maxwell Davies,
Otto Ketting, Witold Lutoslawski, Peter Schat, and others.The 1980
Nederland in Rotterdam Festival involved 30 contemporary
He was instrumental in organizing the monumental presentation of Abel
Gance’sfilm ‘Napoleon’ (1982, 1984, 1995). About
200 similar events for the Film in Concert Foundation including MODERN
TIMES (2002, with Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchrestra) and ODNA (2003,
with Amsterdam Conservatory, authorised by the Shostakovich estate).
On 17 April 2003 he chaired an international conference on
Shostakovich at the Sorbonne University, Paris.
His production ODNA was shown at the Barbican, London, on 11 February
2006 and in Frankfurt later that year. It was also screened at Thessaloniki,
Since the early 1970's Theodore van Houten has published analytical
notes on thousands of musical compositions. Usually aiming
at the public in a broader sense of the word, these appeared in programmes,
music magazines, liner notes etc., usually in the Netherlands. The
repertoire is mostly instrumental Western music composed after 1700.
Various articles on a wide range of subjects appeared in newspapers
varying from the Maltese Times to NRC Handelsblad,
de Volkskrant, journals and magazines including Vrij
Nederland, Joods Journaal, Brabant Cultureel. Monthly contributions
to Preludium, the Concertgebouw programme. He has also published numerous
articles on WWI, WWII, early cinema, opera and film music. Translations
into Dutch include Harold C. Schonberg's well-known Horowitz biography,
J. Karas's book on music life in Theresienstadt, films. Into English:
many musicological articles, various liner notes for record companies
(EMI, Philips, Erasmus). He is both columnist of the local weekly
Aalsmeer newspaper, and contributor to the 2000 edition of Grove’s
Dictionary of Music and Musicians (MacMillan
publishers / online). Translations include Nou, tabé dan,
a famous Louis Davids song, sung by soprano Catherine Bott in the
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 2004.
Leonid Trauberg and his Films - Always the Unexpected. Art & Research
/ Graduate Press, 's-Hertogenbosch / Buren 1989, ISBN 90-72058-03-8.
(available from Kronos Verlag, Laaber, BRD)
Eisenstein Was Great Eater - In Memory of Leonid Trauberg. Graduate
Press / Buren 1991, ISBN 90-72058-07-0
(available from Kronos Verlag, Laaber, BRD)
Silent Cinema Music. Frits Knuf Musicology Publishers / Buren 1992,
ISBN 90-6027-629-9 / 90-6027-628-0 (available from Kronos Verlag,
Bernard Drukker - Duizendkunstenaar. Bbiography in: Jaarboek Mediageschiedenis
6, IISG / Amsterdam 1995, ISBN 90-6861-100-3
De ondergang van de zwijgende film en de opkomst van de radio-ensembles.
In: Hilversum en de Omroep, Verloren / Hilversum 1995, ISBN 90-6550-515-6
Dmitri Sjostakovitsj, 1906-1975, een leven in angst. Van Gruting /
Westervoort,2006 (2nd ed. scheduled 2008),ISBN 90-75879-326 / NUR
Gerard J. van den Broek – The Return of the Cane (English
editing). International Books / Utrecht 2007, ISBN 978-90-5727-0505
150 Jaar Het Wapen Van Aalsmeer, 2011-11-26.
Een vrij ernstig geval, Aalsmeer en Aalsmeerders in oorlogstijd. Van
Gruting, Westervoort, 2011 (1st ed. August 2011, 2nd ed. September
2011, 3rd ed. December 2011), ISBN 978-90-75879-308 / NUR 668
Op Aalsmeer, schetsen, verhalen. Art & Research / Aalsmeer 2011,
World War II:
L.F. de Groot (editor: Th. van Houten)- Berechting Japanse Oorlogsmisdadigers
- Temporaire Krijgsraad Batavia 1946-1949, Art & Research / 's-Hertogenbosch
1991, ISBN 90-72058-06-2
Er Komt een Andere Tijd - Oorlogsherinneringen van Klaas van Houten,
Graduate Press / Buren 1993, ISBN 90-72058-08-9
Een vrij ernstig geval, Aalsmeer en Aalsmeerders in oorlogstijd, Uitgeverij
van Gruting / Westervoort 2006, ISBN 90-75879-30X
Harold C. Schonberg - Horowitz (biography)
Panta Rhei / Katwijk 1993, ISBN 90-73207-36-3
J.Karas - Muziek in Theresienstadt
Panta Rhei / Katwijk 1994, ISBN 90-73207-51-7
Several (silent) films, poetry, songs, liner notes, TV-productions.
Letter in: De Mooiste Brieven aan de Volkskrant (‘The
best letters to the editor,’ Prometheus Amsterdam, 1994 / ISBN
Musical radio play 'Music in Jane Austen's Letters'
actress Carice van Houten as Jane Austen). VPRO Radio January 1999
Various 1982< for Erasmus Music Productions, EMI, Philips, etc.
Numerous music and documentary programmes, notably for NOS Radio 4
(1975), Stad (1976), KRO Radio 4 1977<, VPRO 1993<, NPS 1998<,
BRT (Brussels) 2006. Particularly successful was a 10 hrs. series
on the music in WWII concentration camps (VPRO 1994). Major live
radio interview for Radio France, 7 April 2003.
NOS Kunstbeeld, June 1982
France TV 1 News, July 1983
Guest appearances in numerous local and various national programmes
Reiziger in Muziek (April 1997)
NOS TV News (October 1995, January 2001, April 2003)
BRT Brussels (January 1996)
researcher for Reiziger in Muziek (1998)
Paul de Leeuw Show NCRV July 2002 (with daughter Carice)
Kunst moet Zwemmen, VPRO April 2003
NPS Matinee: Shostakovich: 8th Symphony: 18 April 2004, repeated 2005,
2007 (Cultura TV)
NPS De Kunst: 2 March 2008 (with daughters Carice and Jelka)
RKK Urbi @ Orbi: 5 March 2008 (rediscovered Dachau Messe)
NPS Matinee: Shostakovich: 1st Violin Concerto: 20 April 2008
Bit actor in cinema production Anderland (director: Andre
Toonen, 2003, rep. 2005)
ODNA (Arte TV / ZDF / Schweizerisches Fernsehen, December 2005)
Brian Burman – documentary Revolutionary Filmmusic
(Swiss TV, DVD 2007). Available on DVD (‘Odna’ / Moskwood
And various apperances on local TV-stations Amsterdam, The Hague.
Leeuwarden, Groningen, Enschede, Eindhoven, Maastricht
Table ronde Dmitri Chostakovich, Sorbonne, Paris, 17 april
Pre-concert talk, interviewed by Gerald McBurney, BBC SO
/ Barbican series, 11 February 2006
Lifetime achievement award Hogenbijl Prijs (statuette, €
15.000) 2006, following the publication of the first original Dutch
biography of Shostakovich.
Th. J. van Houten
1432 BG Aalsmeer