Jan Bouws, accomplished musician, composer, lecturer and author, was
born in the Netherlands in Purmerend on 28 July 1902. He trained in
Musicology at the University of Amsterdam and on completion of his
studies became a lecturer at the Watergraafsmeerse Schoolvereniging
in the east of Amsterdam. One of his responsibilities was to conduct
a children's choir. During this time he married Juliana van Heijningen,
a writer and researcher focused on compiling encyclopaedias. They had
two sons, Niels and Jan.
Bouws contributed to the South Africa programme for the Dutch Broadcast
Corporation and this exposed him to the country and its music. In 1960,
Bouws and his wife immigrated to South Africa and he was appointed lecturer
at the University of Stellenbosch music school. He spoke fluent Afrikaans
and French and was able to continue his own studies. In 1965, he received
his D Phil degree and continued to lecture until 1972.
his student years in Amsterdam, Bouws developed a simple system to
called “Het eertse Pianoboek, 12 Liedjes voor Piano,
Het tweede Pianoboek, Het derde Pianoboek en 20 Speelliedjes van Overal”.
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This system is still used today. Bouws' contribution to South African
music was also enormous and he made significant additions to the South
African Music Encyclopaedia, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart and
the Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa. He also published many
articles on music history and musicology in international journals from
Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Hungary and Switzerland.
distinguished himself as a composer by arranging Afrikaans poems, the
being “Op my ou ramkietjie”.
The words to this song were written by C. L. Leipoldt and have become
a folk song
in the Afrikaans culture.
Bouws died on 26 January 1978 in Parow in the Western Cape. He is survived
by his wife Juliana currently living in Stellenbosch.
- South African History Online