“Fantasy Notes” with Dutch composer Hans Jacobi

What does music mean to you personally?

Music means a lot to me, as a means of expression and a way of life.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

In the end it’s all about imagination, with all its consciousness and unconsciousness faculties. I’m fascinated by the creative process. The subconsciousness is like an abyss that cannot be tackled in a direct way. The technical skills are only helpful to a certain extent. They are like a fishing net, thrown into the deep, to catch a mysterious sea creature.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?

It is a matter of concern. However, in Holland the elderly are still an important target audience.

What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21 century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I wish that music could be presented as a bunch of flowers, independently of the music business and the concert hall. I like certain traditional concepts of Japanese aesthetics. It’s a world view centered on the acceptance of imperfection and transience. I believe this kind of profound beauty is capable to counterbalance our glossy high tech world.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have your favorite piece (written by you) How did you start working on it?

I like to start with a tiny spontaneous sketch, inspired by something like soft moonlight, clouds, the sea, spring time. I don’t mean a clear picture that is directly translated into music. It’s more a certain sense of textures, harmonies, densities. Such an intuitive sketch can be elaborated in a more rational way. Like my piano piece The Scent of Rain, that I like very much and that happens to be my most popular piece on MuseScore.

We, Moving Classics TV, love the combination of classical music with different disciplines: music and painting, music and cinematography, music and digital art, music and poetry. What do you think about these combinations?

I’m much in favour of that. As a church organist I experimented a lot with combinations of music, poetry and the visual arts, not only during services but also at cultural events. Some of my music was arranged and used for documentaries and art exhibitions by ‘artificial intelligence computer musician’ ferrie = differentieel.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

That’s a tough question, because we are all conditioned by different backgrounds. I was about 10 years old when I heard a Bach organ fugue for the first time. I could not comprehend it, it was just a wall of sound. But I was eager to crack the code, to listen through it. It’s maybe not advisable to all young people. Unless you understand it as an advice to keep an open mind and ear at all times, and not only on classical music but on all kinds of music.

Now it is a common practice in the media to talk that the classical music is getting into the consumption business, do you agree? We are speaking about the supply and demand rules and how to sell your “product” in your case your compositions. How do you see it?

It has been like that since Haydn went to London with his latest symphonies. Our modern world is shaped by economic expansion and technical developments. Sadly the benefits are not for all. It’s important to be aware of these issues, to live with them, and to use them to a certain extent (sound recording, streaming, social media). I myself like to combine music making with regular jobs. I’m also trained as a musicologist, so I’m not afraid of a desk job. Luckily my regular jobs are music related, and they allow me enough spare time and freedom to compose.

Do you have expectations what regards your listeners, your audience?

Actually no. As an organist I have to please everyone. It’s tradition in the Remonstrant Church to complement the sermon with a piece of organ music. Much of my organ compositions had their origin in this practice. It’s already a kind of miracle that my novelties are actually accepted.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

Maybe a CD. But the plans have not yet been worked out. I’ve recently experimented with expressions that are more like waves and brushstrokes, without an actually melody of predefined form. It’s daring to work on something indefinite like that, but the responses are positive. I like to go on with it.

About Hans Jacobi: Hans Jacobi studied organ, church music and composition at several conservatories in The Netherlands. He studied musicology at the University of Utrecht. He is organist of the Remonstrant Church in The Hague. He is also an employee of muziekweb.nl, which offers its services to Dutch libraries and constitutes Europe’s largest music collection on CDs, LPs and music DVDs. His compositions can be found on MuseScore. He gives lectures and courses on classical music on a regular basis.