My own journey: learning at the Sweelinck Conservatorium

Peter Masseurs, former principal of the Concertgebouw Orchestra

At the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam, my primary course was with . But I also took modern trumpet lessons from Concertgebouw Orchestra principal trumpeter, Peter Masseurs. He was a very good teacher, advocating for a lot of declamatory expression in trumpet solos like the Arutunian .

The second-most important course I took at the Conservatorium was a baroque chamber course with continuo professor, Veronica Hampe. She was a wonderful and interesting teacher, originally from Germany. She told the story of how her father, in post-WWII reconstruction Germany, had spent about a month’s salary on tickets for his family to see Mozart’s Magic Flute. She lived in a tiny apartment to the side of the Oude Kerk (“Old Church”), and she kept her complete works of various composers all around her apartment, even under her bed. She loved music, and transmitted that love to her students.

Baroque violinist, Daniel Elyar

In Ms. Hampe’s class, we played music that mostly included mixed with strings and continuo, but we also did some pieces for baroque trumpet. And at the end of the year, we performed the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 by . I have kept up a friendship and also a professional relationship with one other student in that course–American baroque violinist, Daniel Elyar.

I also took some jazz trumpet lessons from American expat, Charles Green, and even tried to learn medieval chant, but had to give up on these, because I started to get busy outside of the conservatory doing gigs.  More on that later…

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My own journey: getting settled in Amsterdam

We started to get used to life in Amsterdam. Melissa and I have always had a dog, and Amsterdam was no different. As I mentioned yesterday, she flew over with Béla, our vizsla, into Schiphol airport. Béla was an amazingly-good urban dog. He was probably the best “heeler” I’ve ever known. You could easily walk with him, without a leash, on a busy sidewalk (we did not do this often, but it was possible). He liked holding an umbrella in his mouth.

We had very little money, so we almost always cooked our food. To get our food, sometimes we shopped at Albert Heijn (a supermarket), but most often we went to the outdoor Albert Cuyp Market. This market was open almost every day, even in the rain. Since we had only one bicycle between the two of us, I would usually empty out my soft case made by Altieri (it was like a backpack), and ride over to the market. When the trumpet case was filled with our groceries, then shopping was over. I remember we especially enjoyed getting loose tea for the cold months.

Since we began dating each other, Melissa and I have been vegetarian. In Amsterdam, the McDonald’s offered a “groenteburger” (vegetable burger), which we tried and liked. I’m not sure why McDonald’s in the U.S. has not offered this option, but I think they would get more business from tree-huggers like me.

One special treat. When we were hungry, I would go to the “avondwinkle” (a convenience store open in the evening) and get a “gevulde koek.” This was a cookie filled with almond paste, and just amazing in flavor. The Dutch definitely know how to cook with almond flavor.

We had a camera (old-fashion film, of course), and I remember going out to take some black and white photos. I am not great at scanning, so the ones you see here are not as nice as they should be.


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