Ramses Shaffy 1933-2009

His music and art was more of my parents’ generation than my own, but nobody inb the Netherlands could really escape his influence. Born in France in 1933, son of an Egyptian diplomat and a Polish-Russian countess, he moved to the Netherlands when young to live with a Dutch foster family. Studying drama and acting in the fifties, his work from the sixties onwards built a bridge between the older Dutch “kleinkunst” (small arts) and cabaret traditions and pop music. Though he also worked as a movie and theatre actor he was most famous for his singing. It’s astounding how many of his songs I’ve picked up by osmosis, from Sunday afternoon music played by my parents, my dad especially.

How to choose the song to best represent him? My favourite was and still is “Zing Vecht Huil Bid Lach Werk en Bewonder” (Sing, Fight, Cry, Pray, Laugh, Work and Admire), a very Dutch sort of mantra.

His work with Liesbeth List, another of the giants of Dutch music, should not go unmentioned either. This is “Pastorale” which shows them both at their best. It’s theatrical bombast sung with gusto and without embarassement.

“We Zullen Doorgaan”.

And this was always my father’s favourite:

1 Comment

  • Jay Vos

    December 1, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    “We Zullen Doorgaan” I remember indeed. I am probably of the same era as your dad, I think. My cousins told me about Ramses’s songs when I was in my early 20s. I never really followed his musical career avidly.