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Elisabeth Cooymans (Mezzo-soprano, Contralto)

Born: March 31, 1920 - The Netherlands

Thhe Dutch mezzo-soprano/contralto, Elisabeth Cooymans-De Groot, began her rich musical career as organist and choir conductor at two churches in Den Bosch and as pianist in numerous chamber music concerts. Together with members of the Brabants Orkest she even had her own piano quintet. In the time that Hendrik Andriessen was director of the Conservatory of Utrecht, she completed her solo singing training by bulding her repertoire and perfect her voice under the critical guidance of respectively Berthe Seroen, Irma Kolassi and the renowned singer and vocal coach Willem Ravelli, himself a pupil of the legendary Cornelie van Zanten, who had helped making stars as Julia Culp and Jo Vincent great Willem Ravelli, she received a year of intensive lessons and he found that her voice type was an alto-mezzo rather then alto.

The focus of Elisabeth Cooymans' extensive repertoire was on the music of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Debussy (Proses lyriques, four songs for piano, with the 3rd Fleur her preferred one), Andre Caplet, Chausson (Poème de l'amour et de la mer), Louis Andriessen (La vierge à midi, 1966 premiere), Benjamin Britten, Henze, sacred music, which always occupied a special place. Debussy was one of her favourite composers. To commemorate his 50th anniversary (March 25, 1918), she presented together with the pianist Sas Bunge a Debussy program, which was performed in various places. She had many songs recitals but worked also often involved in major vocal works for orchestra (L.v. Beethoven, Verdi, Gustav Mahler, Bruckner, Berlioz), opera (Charles Gounod, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev) and oratorios, here was one - of course – J.S. Bach her great favorites. In 1966, she appeared at the Kurhaus in Scheveningen in a concert performance of Gluck's Orfeo. A stage version has actually never happened. Unique in her many solo concerts of sacred music, were those she gave with Albert de Klerk; on these occasions theu prsented many beautiful works, which otherwise were rarely performed. Elisabeth Cooymans had an international career. She performed with conductors such as Erich Leinsdorf, Ferdinand Leitner, Jean Fournet, Riccardo Muti, Edo de Waart and Hein Jordans, during the Holland Festival, the Festival of Flanders and the Bregenz Festival Among her regular accompanists during her concerts were George van Renesse, Rudolf Jansen, Sas Bunge. With the latter she performed mainly French repertoire.

In 1966, Elisabeth Cooymans sang for the association Vrienden van het Lied (Friends of the Lied) in house concerts with Max Reger programme in collaboration with the violinist Dulci Ouwerkerk and the pianist Co Backers. In 1974, she, along with the Reger-Trio Gérard van Blerk made a concert tour through the Netherlands. But she sang repertoire by composers such as G. Mahler, Schumann (Frauenliebe und Leben), Wolf and Johannes Brahms (Alto Rhapsody). She has particpated in the performance Le miroir de Jésus (Andre Caplet, in 1967 together with the Brabants Kamerkoor at the Basilica of Tongeren) and Les mystères du Christ (1969, Oscar van Hemel) and sang Madrigal and Deux moralités by Alex Voormolen (with Sas Bunge) and Pippa Passes (van Rettich). The Madrigal was dedicated by the composer to her, the world premiere was in 1970 at Purcell Room in London. Numerous radio appearances. She sang until her age 65, after which she specialized in giving singing lessons. She gave her last concert at Kasteel Groenvelt in Baarn. Her accompanist was Dorti de Rooy.

In 1972, Elisabeth Cooymans became distinguished artist by the Johan Wagenaar Foundation for her outstanding achievements in the field of performing Dutch Chamber Music She was also a juror at the International Vocal Competition in s’Hertogenbosch. In 2003, the Concertzender devoted several broadcasts to her. Elisabeth Cooymans made several recordings and her extensive repertoire is also documented during numerous radio recordings. For the HMV label she made a record that received a very favorable review:

Source: Dutch Divas Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (June 2012)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2012)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Gerard Akkerhuis


BWV 243

Links to other Sites

Elisabeth Cooymans (401 Dutch Divas) [Dutch]

AKKV studio | Elisabeth Cooymans [Dutch]

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