Known as the father of classical music in Curaçao. He was a renowned composer and instrumentalist (playing the organ, piano, clarinet, lute and mandolin) in addition to directing orchestras and military bands.
Jan Gerard Palm was born on June 2, 1831 in Curaçao. He was the son of Cornelio Palm and Anna Elisabeth de Windt. He was a standout in the world of music from an early age. In 1858, he was named director of the Curaçao Civil Guard Orchestra. As an organist, he performed in the Emanu-El and Mikvé Israel synagogues in Curaçao, at the Fort Protestant Church and the Igualdad Lodge. He was an avid contributor to the magazine Notas y Letras, published in Curaçao between 1886 and 1888. The magazine was distributed in various Latin American and Caribbean countries.
During his long musical career, Palm composed more than 180 pieces, from mazurkas, waltzes, polkas, military marches and music for soloists (piano and violin), to orchestral and religious pieces. Palm explored and expanded the concepts of what was classical music in the halls of Curaçao. As a composer, Palm has been described as original and daring. He tried to include surprising moments in his compositions, such as including unconventional chords and using complex or local popular rhythms. Among his compositions are sacred music, ballroom music and even tumbas, a style of music of African origin that was considered erotic in that era. The majority of the genres in which Palm composed songs, however, were of European origin. His compositions show clear influences from the musical culture of the Caribbean, especially Curaçao.
In 1854, he married Eleonora Christina Gijsbertha Mount and they had five children. Before marrying Eleonora, Palm had fathered a son, Manuel Antonio. When Eleonora died in 1884, Palm had a relationship with Amalia Elodia Pérez, with whom he had three children. His children Rudolph Palm, John Palm, Toni Palm and Jacobo Palm, and his grandchildren Albert Palm, Edgar Palm and Robert Rojer, maintained and continue to maintain Jan Gerard Palm’s legacy.
Palm died on December 13, 1906, leaving behind a huge musical legacy which his family has worked to maintain and enrich.
Author: Mintzi Martínez
Published: June 13, 2012.
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