all works

3 works in Donemus catalogue

popular works

Forbidden Music Regained : Volume 3

Genre: Unknown

Sept mélodies retrouvées | Deux chansons : for soprano and piano / Leo Kok

Genre: Vocal music
Subgenre: Voice and piano
Instruments: zang pf

Elf liederen op Duitse, Nederlandse en Engelse teksten : for soprano and piano / Leo Kok

Genre: Vocal music
Subgenre: Voice and piano
Instruments: zang pf

latest edition

Forbidden Music Regained : Volume 3

Genre: Unknown

 

composer

Kok, Leo

Date of birth: 1893
Date of death: 1992

Leo Kok was born in Amsterdam in 1893 in a partly Jewish family. His mother died during childbirth; his father died when he was eight years old. Perhaps these early losses and premature independence played a role in his many activities as a youngster. He graduated from the Rotterdam Maritime Academy and studied piano at the Conservatory in The Hague. Willem Pijper taught him composition. In the meantime, he excelled in boxing and football.
In the 1920s and 1930s he was living alternatively in Paris and Ascona and worked as a vocal coach. He spent a year in Berlin as accompanist of among others, the German dancer Charlotte Bara. Her wealthy family had a huge estate in Ascona, Switzerland where they built especially for her the Teatro San Materno in 1927. According to reports her performances, accompanied by Kok, were magical. Ascona became Leo Kok’s second home.
Early on Leo Kok expressed his outspoken political views. As a conscientious objector during World War I he was imprisoned up to 1917. As a compelling anti-fascist he fought in the Spanish Civil War in 1936 on the side of the Republicans. He was captured and imprisoned for a time in Portugal. He suffered a similar fate against the Italian fascists. During World War II, he joined the Resistance. Concert tours in Spain, Portugal and Italy were the perfect cover-up for intelligence work.
In 1943 he was arrested in his apartment in Paris. As a political prisoner - his Jewish origin was luckily not detected - he was tortured by the Gestapo and transported to concentration camp Buchenwald. The torture-hanging on his wrists forced an end to his career as a pianist.
After the war Leo Kok lived alternately in Paris and Ascona. He opened an antiquarian bookshop in Paris, first selling works from his own collection. His love of books, awakened in the literary metropolis, culminated in another antiquarian bookshop in Ascona. The Libreria della Rondine became a popular meeting spot for writers. Leo had a special bond with a Resistance comrade, the poet Guy Levis Mano. Mano, also a translator and graphic designer and owner of Editions glm, published Leo Kok's song cycle Sept mélodies retrouvées. The bookshops demanded a lot of attention which left hardly any time to compose.
Between 1955 and 1960 he wrote music for the puppet theater in Ascona, and was its musical director. In 1979, he was diagnosed with cancer and withdrew from the bookstore and public life. Leo Kok was an aware witness of almost the entire twentieth century. His life ended on August 7, 1992, in Ascona; his ashes, typical for his eventful life, were scattered over the river Seine in Paris, his spiritual home.
Leo Smit Foundation (with thanks to Marcel Worms)
(translation: Patricia Warner Leanse)