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Jan Bresser

Johannes Gijsbertus (called Jan) Bresser was born on 7 October 1899 in Arnhem (Netherlands). He was born into a highly musical family. His father Antoon Bresser was a professional violinist at the Arnhem Orchestra Association. The parents had three sons who all received a musical education from an early age and who all became later professional musicians as well. The brother Reinier Bresser became a cellist, the other brother Martin a trombonist.
Jan Bresser played the violin and his first teacher was his father of course. But he later received violin lessons from Henri Heijtze, a teacher at the local music school. He showed much talent and so was granted a scholarship to study violin (with Alexander Schmuller) and composition (with Bernard Zweers) at the Amsterdam conservatory.
During his study times Jan Bresser already worked as a violinist in the orchestra of his father, the Arnhem Orchestra Association.


After his time at the conservatory he started his career as the concertmaster at the Haarlem Orchestra Association in 1924. He only stayed a year and  already in 1925 fulfilled the same position at the Städtisches Orchester in Düsseldorf (Germany). Jan Bresser remained there until 1940. Then he got a call from the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and became concertmaster of this renowned orchestra. He stayed in this position until his retirement in 1965. His achievements for the Concertgebouw Orchestra were so immense that the orchestra ordered a portrait painting of him by the local artist Norman Perryman which later was presented in the foyer of the concert hall. The same year Jan Bresser was also awarded a knight of the order of Orange-Nassau for his special merits for society.


Beside his orchestral activities Jan Bresser also was part of different chamber ensembles. Best known is surely the Concertgebouw String Quartet that was founded in 1950 and was formed by Jan Bresser, Jan Damen, Klaas Boon and Tibor de Machula.


In addition to his performances Jan Bresser also composed his own works from time to time. He composed a violin concerto in 1930 that was premiered with him as the soloist and the Städtische Orchester Düsseldorf under Hugo Balzer in 1934. He also composed 4 violin sonatas, several string quartets, a viola sonata, a piano sonata, and many songs (for example on poems by Li Bai).


Jan Bresser died on 4 January 1973 in Amsterdam (Netherlands).

Violin sonata No.4 (1957)


In my possession is the autograph manuscript of the Violin sonata by Jan Bresser which was composed in 1957. The work consists of the movements 1. Allegro moderato, 2. Allegretto con grazia, 3. Adagio and 4. Allegro vivace. The work was performed at least once in 1965 at the farewell concert of Jan Bresser when retiring from the Concertgebouw Orchestra. He played the work on the violin with his daughter Tini Bresser at the piano.

Piano sonata No.2


In my possession is also the autograph manuscript of the Piano sonata No.2. The manuscript seems to be incomplete resp. the work is unfinished because only three movements are in existence. The complete movements are: Moderato assai - Scherzo: Allegro vivace - Adagio con espressivo. There is no information when the work was composed nor if it was completed.

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