This month the Castelnuovo-Tedesco family donated two manuscripts by the Dutch composer Simon Gokkes to the Nederlands Muziek Instituut in The Hague. These manuscripts were found a few years ago in some archives Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco had left in Italy when he emigrated to the US.
In 1935, Gokkes asked MCT to write a Lecha Dodi for the Portuguese Synagogue of Amsterdam, where Gokkes was choirmaster. He wrote: “I will be very happy if you can dedicate some time to be able to help me. It’s very necessary that important Jewish composers give their attention to this art.”
Gokkes sent MCT several of his own compositions as a guideline. This was Mario’s first work for synagogue, and he went to it with his usual enthusiasm. He sent it off to Amsterdam; however, it is not known for sure that the piece was performed at the Synagogue.
A few years later, Gokkes and his family perished at Auschwitz. Much of this composer’s music has been lost. Gokkes’ Lecha Daudie is known from printed sheet music, but until now no original manuscript had been located. It brings us great joy and emotion to be able to return these manuscripts to the composer’s archive where, we hope, they will begin a new life. The Instituut intends to digitize the manuscripts, so that in the future they will be accessible to interested musicians and scholars. For more information about Simon Gokkes refer to this article on the website of Forbidden Music Regained.