Aafje Heynis, Dutch contralto, Died at 91

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Aafje Heynis was born on May 2, 1924, and died on December 16, 2015.

She was a Dutch contralto. In 1961, Aafje was awarded the Harriet Cohen International Music Award.

A tea rose, hybridised by Buisman 1964, was named after her.

Aafje was born in Krommenie in 1924.

At the age of four she sang in a children’s choir as well as with her father at the harmonium.

On the advice of Jan Mienes, the conductor of the choral society in her native town, Aafje auditioned for teacher Jo Immink in Amsterdam with an arrangement of the “Pilgrims’ Chorus” from Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

From 1946 to 1949 her singing teacher was Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius and she was also advised by Laurens Bogtman, the great oratorio singer.

Aafje quickly established her reputation, to begin with in the field of oratorio.

With her performance in Johannes Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Eduard van Beinum, she attracted wide attention.

Aafje performed many concerts in churches, Lieder recitals, and numerous performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

For the Philips label she made a series of recordings of works by Brahms, Bach, George Frideric Handel and Felix Mendelssohn.

However, Aafje showed a particular preference for Gustav Mahler, one consequence of which was a legendary recording of his Symphony No. 2 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink.

Aafje Heynis passed away on December 16, 2015, aged 91.

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