WHAT WE’RE WORKING ON NOW: Meeting the Ghosts

What happened to music and musicians during the Nazi Occupation?


Starting in the 1930s, European Jews suffered increasing restrictions on their freedoms, ultimately leading to threat of imprisonment, starvation and death.

Spared this trouble the decade before the Second World War, Dutch Jewish musicians continued to pursue their studies and develop their careers.

The Nazi infection crossed into Dutch territory with the invasion of Rotterdam in May 1940. Within two years, Dutch musicians and composers were forbidden to create or teach music. By 1943, going into hiding was their only chance for survival.

Meeting the Ghosts is a dramatic recounting of nine Jewish musicians and composers who lived in Amsterdam during the Occupation (1940-1945). Includes animation, historic film, photos and recordings, live score and performance of pieces written by suppressed Dutch composers. 70 minutes without intermission.

 Roeméense Melodie was written by Dick Kattenburg, a young composer who would only hear one of his pieces performed during his lifetime.

Three versions of the story

Created as a memorial experience, Meeting the Ghosts was originally a 25-minute documentary with a live score and a small museum installation informing guests about pertinent facts about Holland’s engagement in the War. It premiered in Amsterdam on Dodenherdenking Dag (Remembering the Dead Day) in 2008.

In 2015, Meeting the Ghosts became a program in two parts: the original documentary, plus the addition of four pieces written by Dutch Jewish composers who were suppressed by the War.

Now, wishing to make Meeting the Ghosts a world-class multimedia experience for national audiences, Canvas is putting its full weight behind the following enhancements:

  • STORY: Voiceovers by Dutch actors enhance audience understanding of the nine featured men and women.

  • ANIMATION: Dutch animator Julia Veldman C is bringing Meeting the Ghosts to visual life with hand drawn drawings of musicians and Amsterdam.

  • INSTRUMENTATION: Meeting the Ghosts is also available for orchestra.

Tell the Stories Tour

Canvas is seeking interest and funding to complete its vision of making Meeting the Ghosts a world-class multi-media experience. Canvas is launching its Tell the Stories Tour in summer 2019, performing a synopsis of the program in metropolitan areas across the United States. For more information, click the button below.