brons / natuursteen / zandsteen
Sweelinckplein, Den Haag
52.0836932264184, 4.28562943911571 View on map
Amongst all the monuments, which commemorate historical events and pay tribute to persons such as Descartes, Johan de Witt, Eline Vere, there is also a memorial to the 16th-century composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621). He was not only a composer and teacher, but also played the organ of the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. He became famous at home and abroad especially for his innovative compositions for this instrument.
The monument was not erected in Sweelinck's own time, but in the 20th century. Bernard van den Sigtenhorst Meyer (1888-1953), Sweelinck's biographer and fellow composer, made a case for a memorial to his 'teacher'. The municipal committee for art assignments commissioned Dirk Bus to do this in 1953. His monument in honour of the composer has stood in the public garden at the Sweelinckplein since 1962.
The monument consists of a pedestal with a column on which Bus attached a portrait medallion of the composer. Sweelinck himself was obviously not the model for the portrait on this monument. The sculptor probably derived his likeness from a painting by the 17th-century painter Ravesteyn in which the composer is depicted. On top of the column is a statue of a reclining figure with birds. In an interview in the Vrije Volk (1967) Bus says: 'With this I wanted to depict the floating, the rarefied nature of music'. The lyre, which the floating figure is holding, also refers to music. Like the music itself, Bus sculpted this oldest string instrument, which already appears in the legend of Orpheus, in a very slender and rarefied manner.
The Sweelinck monument is one of two memorials that Bus has made for The Hague. The other is the Monument for the Grenadiers and Hunters. The style in which particularly the upper part of the Sweelinck monument was made, with its rough surface, is typical of Bus' later work.