der Linden (real name David Gysbert van der Linden) was born
in the Dutch fishing village of Vlaardingen on 22 June 1915.
He was the
son of a music dealer who owned several musical instrument
shops. His first direct contact with music was at the age
of seven when his father, himself an excellent player, gave
him his first violin lesson, as well as tuition in music theory.
Very soon music became the only thing in life that mattered,
and this accounts for him leaving school at an early age,
to enter his father's business as an aspiring piano tuner.
who wished to see his son's education continued, engaged the
services of a private teacher. This attempt was also doomed
to failure as the teacher, an amateur pianist, was more interested
in making music rather than in giving lessons, and once again
the violin replaced the school book.
on to study the art of composition at an Academy where he
continued to learn violin and piano playing.
very beginning of his career, Dolf was particularly interested
in light symphonic music and jazz, and especially in improvisation.
his every action, and even holidays were spent travelling
through the country as a street musician, It was at this period
of his life that he began to compose, and even his first efforts
were sufficiently attractive to have aroused the interest
of one of the leading musicians at a Dutch radio station.
der Linden always longed to conduct his own orchestra and
it wasn't long before he had collected a number of musicians
together from local bands, forming an orchestra which played
at local events.
was sixteen he obtained a position as organist at a theatre
in his birthplace, where he remained for a number of years
before leaving for a more important post. The economic crisis
at the beginning of the 1930s, however, was making itself
felt, and very soon the young musician was looking around
again for a new job. He tried everything from contacting leading
orchestras to playing in dance bands and other small orchestral
combinations. At one time he was an arranger for a dance band
which toured from town to town. Between 1936 and 1939 he became
a regular arranger for different radio orchestras.
Dolf wrote a lengthy paraphrase on a well known theme, which
he submitted to Radio Hilversum. An engagement as arranger-composer
followed and everything seemed perfect - at least, until the
Second World War came along. During the war he was captured
by the Germans and forced to do hard labour in Germany. Eventually
he escaped and reached Holland after several months. Helped
by friends, he went into hiding until the war ended.
liberation, Dolf played with a small ensemble in a club for
Canadian officers in a street called 'Parklaan'. This was
the origin of his famous signature tune "Parklane Serenade".
It has become famous, not only amongst all lovers of light
music in the Netherlands, but far beyond his country's frontiers
war years, Dolf van der Linden set to work on the realisation
of the plans which he had worked out during the intervening
years of forced musical inactivity. It wasn't long before
he was approached by the local broadcasting authorities Herrijzend
Nederland (Rising Netherlands) and asked to form an orchestra
of 40 musicians specialising in light music This was just
the chance he had been waiting for, and he set to work at
once putting his ideas into practice. A careful choice of
musicians and vocal artists - and the famous Metropole Orchestra
was born! The name 'Metropole' was invented by one of the
musicians, and their very first broadcast took place on 25
leadership, The Metropole Orchestra became one of the finest
ensembles of its kind in Europe This was due in no small measure
to the fact that Dolf succeeded in happily combining his own
enthusiasm and aspirations with the outstanding technical
qualities of the Metropole Orchestra and its talented musicians.
at the helm, the Metropole Orchestra became an essential part
of the music scene, not only in the Netherlands, but in many
European countries as well
to his normal radio and recording activities, Dolf also made
a number of successful guest appearances with the British
Broadcasting Corporation, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Belgian,
French and Dutch radios, as well as Israel. Dolf was also
regularly invited to England. During the Nord Ring Festival
in 1977 Dolf won an award (given once only) for the best conductor.
In September 1981 he conducted the BBC Radio Orchestra in
Jersey at the Nord Ring Festival where the Dutch team were
awarded the first prize and named as Festival winners.
British Musicians' Union prevented production music companies
from making recordings, they turned to Europe - thus opening
up fresh opportunities for Dolf and his orchestra. Under his
own name they recorded for Paxton; as 'Nat Nyll' he made many
records for Boosey & Hawkes; for Charles Brull Dolf became
'David Johnson', etc. Not only was Dolf's orchestra in demand,
but the mood music libraries soon recognised that they had
a talented composer at their disposal as well. His unique
sounds were welcomed by more than a dozen publishers, and
Atmosphere and KPM have gradually making some of his original
works available once again on new CDs.
der Linden certainly made his mark as a composer. His compositions
exceed 200; he also wrote the music for several Dutch films,
numerous radio plays, lyrical dramas and operettas. Apart
from his signature tune, some of his best-known works include
Blow the Horn, Humoresque for Strings, Forest
Fantasy, Pennsylvania Dutch, Jack the Dancer,
Riding into Happiness, Jamaica Road
and Factory Town.
Orchestra of the 1950s and 1960s did not make as many commercial
albums as their admirers would have wished. Even when they
did visit the recording studios, it was often as 'anonymous'
ensembles conducted by 'Daniel de Carlo' or 'Van Lynn', but
at least they were released in the USA as well as Europe.
own views on the nature of his music are revealed in the sleeve
notes for the Capitol album 'Bachelor's Apartment': "I try
to find the way to the heart of everyone. My great love is
my orchestra -my music - and I envisage music as being a combination
of wonderful colours. I like the natural sound of musical
instruments - I detest technical tricks - and only music that
comes to you healthy and clean can speak directly to your
heart. This is language without words."
in 1935, and he had two sons and two daughters. He died on
30 January 1999 aged 83.