Ina Lohr: Transcending the Boundaries of Early Music / Anne Smith

In order to understand Ina Lohr’s later path and her influence on the Early Music movement, it is necessary to examine her early musical education, the level of cultural discourse within her home. Her formal training at the Muziek-Lyceum in Amsterdam built upon this, its ideals and practices impressed upon her by the authority and stature of her teachers, Hubert Cuypers and Anthon van der Horst. Her musical intelligence and knowledge were immediately recognized in Basel in 1929, giving her the opportunity both in her role as assistant to Paul Sacher in regard to the Basel Chamber Orchestra, as well as a teacher at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis to put what she had learned into practice in her new environment. With Early Music next to that of the Modern Classic, Gregorian chant next to pre-Reformation sacred song, the boundaries were fluid, with one affecting the other. Following World War II she then returned to the Netherlands, passing on her new knowledge to a circle of musicians, eager to build not only upon her knowledge but also her innate ability to engage people in song. Her understanding of melody, as reflected in her method of solmization, thus came to have a significant influence on musicians such as Gustav Leonhardt, Jan Boeke, and Kees Vellekoop. This paper was presented at the Study Day: Ina Lohr in Context, 12 May 2016 at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. It may be seen as a forerunner of the eponymous biography on Ina Lohr, which the author intends to complete in the coming year.

I need to begin today by thanking all of those who made this conference possible, starting with the Schola and the SNF. It was like a dream-come-true to be given the wherewithal  at the end of my official professional career  to devote the great majority of my time to my passion, to my obsession. Further, I need to express my appreciation to all the family members, the friends, and former students of Ina Lohr who have given me some of their time, shared with me their experiences with Ina Lohr, as they have given me a picture of her as a person that I could not have attained otherwise. Among these, I must particularly mention Christopher Schmidt, who not only studied with her in the late 40's, but later became her colleague at the Schola. We have spoken many, many times, analyzing the material I have found; his memories, his sense of the structure of the past have given me confidence in how I have knitted the documentary material together. And finally, I must express my gratitude to the Sacher Stiftung, and all the various members of the staff there who have been of great assistance to me, not only in enabling me to examine Ina Lohr's estate, but also in helping me to gain access to her letters to Paul Sacher; further they put me in contact with descendants of her father's family, and have given me many additional hints and suggestions as to where I might find further evidence of her activities. For the first time I really understand why prefaces to biographies contain pages and pages of acknowledgments!

Our project, Ina Lohr (1903-1983), an Early Music Zealot: Her Influence in Switzerland and the Netherlands, began with the goal of investigating Ina Lohr's  life and work and illuminating it in the context of the Singbewegung and the music reform movements of the Catholic and Protestant churches, all phenomena which had their origins in the late 19th century. Their ideals of purity and simplicity can be shown to be a source for historically-informed performance practice in the twentieth century, particularly that of the 15th and 16th centuries. In addition, we wanted to delve into the question of how Ina Lohr served as a link between the Swiss and Dutch Early music scenes. The resulting picture is much more varied, more fascinating than any of us expected. 

After four years of working on a project, after amassing mountains of material, it is difficult to decide which particular story to tell, which aspects to focus upon. Today we have chosen to highlight the Dutch influences upon her and her reciprocal influence on the post-war musical world in the Netherlands. After having heard about the contentious environment in both the Catholic and Protestant musical worlds during her youth, listened to the songs of two of her most formative teachers, as well as ones she wrote herself during her studies at the Muziek-Lyceum under their tutelage, I now have the job of tying these strands together into a coherent story. I will begin with her upbringing in the Netherlands and her formal training at the Muziek-Lyceum. I will then look at her time in Basel, primarily from the point of view of how her Dutch training not only affected the development of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, but also at those portions of her experience there which came into play when she returned after the war to give workshops in Holland. In the process I hope to show how she  through her innate talents and abilities, but also through the vagaries of life was a central link between some seemingly contradictory elements in the twentieth-century musical world, such as the movements to reform the music in both the Catholic and Protestant churches, between Early Music and New Music, between huismuziek and professional musical circles, and, of course between the Dutch and Basel Early Music scenes. Even as a student her main interest lay in sacred music, but as she developed personally, her focus turned increasingly to the question of how to revitalize Protestant church music, so that the congregation would once again be able to communicate directly to God as intended by the original instigators of the Reformation. Thus in the pursuit of her goals within the structures of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and, to a certain extent, the Basel Chamber Orchestra, she overrode these separatist distinctions, transcended them to fulfill her own particular spiritual needs.

Childhood and First Musical Education

The Lohr FamilyIt can perhaps be taken as an omen for her future that Ina Lohr was born in Amsterdam on the Swiss national holiday, August 1, 1903 as the second of three daughters of Henriëtte Antoinette (Jet) Resink (1876-1945) and Herman Lohr (1871-1948). Both of her parents had been born in Indonesia, coming only to the Netherlands in their adolescent years.[1] Her father was the engineer responsible for the electrification of Nijmegen and later of the entire province of Gelderland, her mother was trained as a concert pianist.



Tableau VivantHerman Lohr's family, in line with the society at the time, was well-versed in the arts, with all children receiving musical instruction, Herman on the zither and the mandolin. That he played this instrument is substantiated by a photograph, in which the family and friends have created a kind of tableau vivant on the staircase in front of their house in Haarlem. Herman Lohr is the mandolin player half-standing behind the guitarist in the foreground. Less is known about her mother's family, but it, too, settled in Haarlem upon their return to the Netherlands. The disposition of this family was also liberally progressive with a well-developed interest in the arts.




Most of Ina Lohr's childhood was spent in the apartments for the director within the complex of the cooperation for which her father worked, first in Nijmegen on the Waal and then in Arnhem on the Lower Rhine. The peaceful expansiveness of the Dutch landscape was something that she later missed in Switzerland.[2] Although we only have photos of the interior of the family home from a later period, years after Ina had left the Netherlands, they give an impression of what her environment in her early life must have been like. One sees a rich concatenation of styles and periods in them. The dark wainscoting, from a small synagogue in Prague,[3] allied with the wall tapestries and heavy velvet drapes, serves as a background not only for European paintings and works of art from the 16th through the 20th centuries, but also for No masks, chinoiserie and the cupboard full of large, leather-bound books. The freedom with which Asian and European works of art are juxtaposed with one another exemplifies the influence of the colonial experience in the Dutch East Indies on those that returned to the Netherlands.

Photos from left to right: 1) PGEM Nijmegen, with the director's apartment on the right. Photo: Archiv Nijmegen. 2) PGEM Arnhem: Paul Sacher Stiftung, Sammlung Ina Lohr. 3) PGEM Arnhem. Photo: Paul Sacher Stiftung, Sammlung Ina Lohr. 4) Interior in Haarlem. Photo: Aleid and Floris Zuidema. 5) Interior in Haarlem. Photo: Aleid and Floris Zuidema.

Arnhem PGEM        Nijmegen PGEM            Nijmegen PGEM 2               Interior Haarlem 1             Interior Haarlem 2         

Many of Ina Lohr's earliest memories involved speech, singing or music. She told her friend and former student, Elisabeth Stoevesandt, for example, that she hadn't spoken for the first four years of her life. Apparently once when guests had been invited over and were seated at the table, and Ina was off to the side, her mother remarked that they also had their Ina, who unfortunately could not talk. And then their Ina spoke up, saying: "Ina can talk. Ina does not want to talk."[4] This story could be interpreted as an instance of a characteristic late development in speech often encountered in gifted children, or perhaps more convincingly as a sign of her great inner will-power already evidencing itself at an early age. 

Herman Lohr with gramophoneIn 1954 she wrote about the role the gramophone played in her musical upbringing  her father bought his first one in 1912 when Ina Lohr was 9 years old  and described Marcella Sembrich, Frieda Hempel, Enrico Caruso and Antonio Scotti as being her "first, very patient music teachers, from whom we imitated everything they sang with conscientious exactitude, so that no portamento, no sob, no fermata with tremolo was overlooked."[5] [In the photo one sees a very proud Herman Lohr with a later model of a gramophone. Photo: Aleid and Floris Zuidema.] From there it went to Wagner, with scenes being enacted in the attic. Here, for example, she was upset by the lack of expressive variety in her young voice to the degree that she began altering the rhythm to achieve the intensity she wanted – for Wotan. This upset her father who then taught her to conduct the gramophone. Because she was learning the violin, her father procured her a recording of Henri Marteau playing the Bach E-major violin sonata. This was received with such delight that it led to a Bach period in the household with all the women practicing Bach, and the children singing the Schemelli Lieder accompanied by their mother. If their mother was not there, they then improvised an accompaniment with their voices. This caused their mother to buy a book of Palestrina which they sang in four parts. As a violinist, Ina Lohr could not ignore Mozart, so the D-major concerto became the beginning of their Sunday afternoon gramophone concert, followed by his symphonies, and in later years by those of Bruckner and Mahler, which they listened to with the score and then discussed with one another. Their daily evening fare  complete with score  was a string quartet by Mozart, again with a follow-up discussion. Upon the completion of gymnasium, when she was about 18 years old, she became so ill that she was forced to take her bed for 18 months. In this time she listened intently to the Bach Passions with the score as well as to Mozart quartets. 

Studies at the Muziek-Lyceum[6] 

Eugène CalkoenGiven her background, the all-encompassing nature of her education in music, art and literature, it is not surprising that it was decided that rather than going to the more traditional Conservatory that she should attend the progressive Muziek-Lyceum in Amsterdam which had opened its doors in 1921.[7] In founding this school Eugène Calkoen's objective, as laid down in its prospectus, was to create a new form of music education. [Photo: Eugène Calkoen,]  After Jed Wentz's lecture, combined with the knowledge that one of the Muziek-Lyceum's first teachers was Herman Rutters, it should come as no surprise that one of the ideals behind the program was musical purity.[8] Indeed the almost religious nature behind this desire for purity is revealed by the final section of the prospectus on "Religion and Philosophy," in which their role in the development of future musicians is discussed. In it, the 19th century was seen as being so passionately directed toward the objective perception of reality that it came to hold sway in the arts and sciences. It was maintained that it was

therefore in all truth a spiritual "demand of our time" to link daily professional studies with philosophic and religious reflection, and so well that this does not remain adjacent to the professional studies, but penetrates, deepens and purifies all professional studies as "the centrality of consciousness."[9] 

Thus the Muziek-Lyceum saw itself as an institution on the forefront of educational and spiritual reform, was highly idealistic in nature, creating new pedagogical structures to attain their goals.[10] 

In 1922/23 Ina Lohr began studying there with the violinist Ferdinand Helman (1880-54), who later became the concertmaster of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Two other instructors who had a significant influence on her were Anthon van der Horst (1899-1965) and Hubert Cuypers (1873-1960), whose songs we just heard. 

Van der Horst as teacherAnthon van der Horst's exceptional ability as organist, composer and choir director within the Hervormde church, may be inferred from the fact that he was hired at the age of twenty-one to teach harmony, counterpoint, analysis, and composition at the Muziek-Lyceum at its inception in 1921. [The photo shows him with a theory class, ca. 1930. Photo: Gert Oost, Anton van der Horst 1899-1965: Leven en werken, p. 76.] He later became known for his direction of annual performances of the Matthew Passion and the B-minor mass in Naarden under the aegis of the Bach Vereniging which he took over in 1931. Here he strove to come as close to original performance practices as possible, going back to the original manuscripts for inspiration. In doing so he was challenging the prevailing romantic view of these works, as evidenced by the masterly performances under the baton of Willem Mengelberg. His instruction took place in small classes, in which there was a relatively free-flowing transition between ear-training and harmony, analysis of compositions, and discussions of recent performances. We will see that this was a formative experience as far as Ina Lohr's own teaching was concerned. A close musical bond clearly existed between the two, as in her letters to Paul Sacher on vacations to the Netherlands, she frequently mentions seeing him, and one sees common topics appearing in their written work. Further, it is extraordinary to see how many of the singers he accompanied — Jo Vincent, Louis van Tulder, Max Kloos, Ilona Durigo, Berthe Seroen, Charles Panzéra, and Laurens Bogtman — were hired by Sacher for performances with the Basler Kammerorchester.[11] 

Hubert CuypersHubert Cuypers'  influence upon her was of an entirely different nature, representing as he did the Catholic tradition. [Herbert Cuypers (1941). Photo:] He had studied church music in Aachen, his original orientation in chant coming from the Regensburg school as transmitted in Holland by Michael Johann Anton Lans, as well as composition and harmony with Bernard Zweers in Amsterdam. There he directed many choirs, among them the renowned one of the St. Agnes church for thirty years. He also played an active role in the revival of Gregorian chant and the Caecilian repertoire of polyphonic music in the style of Palestrina in the Netherlands. It is no doubt due to his interest that Gregorian chant was an obligatory subject at the Muziek-Lyceum. Ina Lohr tells of how in the third lesson they had to sing for him from Varii cantus : ad processionem et benedictionem SS. Sacramenti ex libris Vaticanis et Solesmensibus excerpti (Rome, 1920) and how she had been able to do so with great ease. He was nonplussed and asked her how she could sing these pieces so quickly. She replied that due to the beauty of the music she had already sung through the book many times. Upon hearing this he invited her to sing, as an assistant, with his boys' choir in the Moses en Aaronkerk. She remarks that it was from those boys that she learned to sing chant. 

In her work with these two men she acquired an immense knowledge of Christian music of earlier eras. It also seems that Lans, perhaps with Cuypers as a conduit, could have been a source for her concept of "singing speech" or "speaking song" as a fundamental approach to vocal music. He describes, namely, the cantus accentus, which he defines as melodies declaimed in accordance with their punctuation, as being "not much more than a solemn reading, which bore as much resemblance to speaking as to singing."[12] In 1954 at a workshop about practical work with religious song, she brought up the question of why we sing Biblical texts, rather than merely reading them, reflecting on them. Her answer was that the 

song form allows us to speak the text together, so that in singing we come to [...] the praise of God. If this is so, then the singing would have to remain quite close to the speaking of the text, to its actual scansion. Now the quiet metric-rhythmic speaking of a verse is an exercise that has largely been forgotten. The reading of verse is usually adapted – for the benefit of personal interpretation and shaping – to the reading of prose. Therewith, however, the essence of verse is lost. In verse, each line stands on its own even when the sentence continues on into the next line; the various lines of a strophe create a whole. The rhyme favors both the independence as well as the unity of the lines, the meter and rhythm keep the verse and strophe "in order." Only by means of this order, does communal reading actually become possible. We will only achieve a clear, communal speaking with difficulty if rhythm and rhyme are lacking.[13] 

For Ina Lohr, the epitome of song was attained in a communal "singing-speaking" of a text; it is what made her come to reject performance where the message of the text was not foremost. This does not mean that she put music on a lower level than the words, as is made clear by her insistence on the equivalence of "singing speech" and "speaking song." It is more a reflection of her advocacy of function. If the primary goal of sacred music in her eyes, was praise of God, it was this message, as revealed by the words, that needed to come through in the music. Thus her approach to the pre-Reformation and Reformation hymns to which she devoted much of her professional life was strongly influenced by her experience in singing Catholic chant, a seemingly unconscious transcendence of the religious boundaries involved. 


Activities in Basel

In 1929 she finished off her violin diploma, playing the Bruch violin concerto, and then set off for Davos for a vacation in order to recover from the demands the preparation for the exam had made upon her. In the train, however, she suffered such an attack of weakness that the unnamed Dutch friends who had come to greet her at the train station in Basel took her home with them and gave her a quiet place to recover her strength during the subsequent six weeks. While there she met some Basel musicians who dropped by when she was copying out the parts to her first string quartet, one she had composed while studying with van der Horst.[14] They suggested performing it at a house concert, to which Felix Weingartner, then the director of both the Basel Symphony Orchestra and the Conservatory, was invited. He was sufficiently impressed with the work that he invited her to audition for a place in the composition class at the Conservatory, assuring her that her previous work at the Muziek-Lyceum would be recognized and that she only need to take classes that were of interest to her.[15] 

Paul SacherAside from studying theory and composition at the Conservatory, she also participated in the seminars and the collegium musicum taught by Professor Karl Nef at the University of Basel. It is there she met Paul Sacher [Photo: Music Academy Basel], who was later to become an internationally recognized patron of the arts, commissioning many of the foremost compositions of that century and premiering many more. In 1930 Ina Lohr became his assistant in his work with the Basel Chamber Orchestra, which he had founded in 1926. Together with others from the seminar at the University they founded the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in 1933.




From 1929 on, Basel remained the middle point of her life, offering her an escape from both internal pressures and those of her family and friends, while at the same time providing her with manifold opportunities for following up on her own interests. Unfortunately here I will only be able to touch upon a few aspects of it which are specifically related to her Dutch upbringing, as well as her influence in Holland in the post-war years. 

In 1942 Ina Lohr wrote to Paul Sacher that she experienced her first months in Basel as an escape. Since the time of her illness as a 19-year-old – according to friends in Basel she had a hysterectomy due to a fibroid tumor – she had no means of protecting herself from the burdens of others, she would exchange a glance with strangers and immediately know all their woes. This meant that she was constantly forced to deal with these difficult emotions. When she first arrived in Basel she was free of this. Later, with acclimatization this was no longer the case. There were only two people who did not have this effect on her, her younger sister Sally and Paul Sacher, both of whom she experienced as supporting her, making her life easier. 

Indeed, it becomes evident from the correspondence between Paul Sacher and Ina Lohr that their relationship, although obviously and absolutely Platonic, was extraordinarily close, allowing for the expression of thoughts and emotions that neither, in all likelihood, shared with others. Both of them spoke of it as being a "musical marriage."  The letters reveal how dependent he was upon her musical knowledge for the programming, for the marking up his scores for performance, for giving him input about the rehearsals, about historical performance practice, for reviewing new works, etc. During the first 15-20 years she also regularly helped in the preparation of the choir in vocal works. The amount of work she assumed was too much for her constitution – just how much time was involved can be inferred from the fact that on 10 August 1941 she promised him 2 and a half days a week. The effort seemed all the greater in that she saw that they had diverse goals. As she wrote in 1940, he had always been interested in concerts, whereas she had always wanted to work with amateur musicians, preferably within a religious context. As a consequence during the first 20 years of their cooperation they were constantly battling to find a mode of working together that served both of them. In 1939 she had a religious experience, in which she discovered that she could deal with the burdensome emotions she took on from others if she were able to express them directly to God in song, if she could transform all of what she did into prayer. Part of the compromise with Sacher was that he enabled her to teach classes on church music to Protestant theology students at the Schola; at this time she also established an ensemble for church music there, to which she was devote her attentions for the rest of her life. The correspondence is truly moving, in that Sacher demonstrated a kind of unshatterable strength in his trust of Ina Lohr's abilities which in turn allowed her to openly express some of her ideas and needs that otherwise would have remained unspoken and probably unfulfilled. He would have been more than willing to support her generously financially. She in turn was ever anxious to keep such support at a minimum in order to maintain her own independence, but came to see this minimal support also as an example of his unlimited trust in her. These letters are extraordinary documents of a remarkable friendship! 

In her work with Paul Sacher, she of course dealt not only with Early Music but also with that of the Modern Classic, a delimitation of which she was aware, but merely as a further phenomenon in the world of music. Although it is not commonly known that she was also involved with his productions of modern music, the letters and an interview with Jos Leussink in the last year of her life, leave no doubt about the degree of her participation in those works as well. In this interview she spends about 45 minutes speaking of her contact with the "biggies" of the 20th century, Nadia Boulanger, Igor Stravinsky, Arthur Honegger, Bela Bartok, Ernst Krenek, Frank Martin, Paul Hindemith, etc. Here, for example, is her story of her first encounter with Nadia Boulanger in 1932, whom she refers to as Lily, Nadia's younger sister who died in 1918:

And thus I went to a real Parisian salon, full of all possible small [things] – I also have lots of small things that stand around, which are unnecessary, [stuff] that is, of course, always found unnecessary in my profession – but at Nadia [Lily] Boulanger's it was really such that you didn't know how to sit on a chair. Everything was full. But that which then came from her, that was really unbelievable.

And after that we went with her to the rehearsal [of the Symphony of Psalms], the dress rehearsal which was therefore conducted by Stravinsky himself, and I happened to sit next to her and looked into the first big manuscript score by Stravinsky, and she asked me what I thought there and thought there, and she said immediately that she would like to keep me one, two years. To which I said, "But you know, I don't feel at all at home in your salon, I don't belong in a salon and thus – I like Paris very much, I know Paris well, have often been here with my parents for a month, in May, in order to hear the premieres, I know that of course – but I couldn't find my feet here. In the small city of Basel, however, I felt as if I were at home from the first moment; that is very important for me. I don't need to be famous. Then she was so astonished that I said, "C'est pas necessaire, pour moi c'est pas necessaire d'être celèbre, pas du tout." Then she was so astonished [...] We parted as good friends.[16]

Although she turned down this invitation from Nadia Boulanger, she did continue composing, increasingly following her own instinctive preference for melody, for linearity. 

The Founding of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis

In 1933 Paul Sacher, as the director, and Ina Lohr, together with their colleagues Arnold Geering and Walter Nef from the Collegium Musicum under Karl Nef at the University of Basel founded the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. The tone of the first document describing the goals of the school is entirely different in nature from that of the Muziek-Lyceum, much more scholarly, more objective: 

There is the intention of calling an institution for the research and teaching of early music into life under the name of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. Its task will be the investigation and practical testing of all questions connected with resuscitating early music, with the goal of creating a lively interaction between scholarship and practice. [17] 

August Wenzinger und Paul SacherIn comparison to the brochure of the Muziek-Lyceum where the progress of the student is seen within his spiritual development, here the object, the study of Early Music, is central. Structurally the school was supposed to be centered around the "teachers' colloquium in which the common tasks would be discussed and tried out."[18] But when one compares this with the actual activities of the school in its first 30 years, then things look quite different. Already shortly after the founding of the Schola [ Photo: August Wenzinger and Paul Sacher, Music Academy Basel ] attention became focused on two aspects of its activities: on instruction and concerts. From the very beginning August Wenzinger took charge of the concert activities, creating a Konzertgruppe. His interest was always in the professionalization of Early Music, based, of course, on his reading of the theoretical and practical sources. Although Ina Lohr participated in the concerts at the beginning, she soon realized, for various reasons, that this was not for her and devoted herself to teaching the core subjects at the Schola, such as Gregorian chant, thorough bass, Protestant church music, Hausmusik, etc., in small groups, following the model of Anthon van der Horst. As at the Muziek-Lyceum, the education of amateurs was actively cultivated, although this was not foreseen in the Schola program. Indeed until the middle of the 40's the students were for the most part either children or amateurs who took part either in the classes for recorder, Hausmusik or the Kirchenmusikensemble. There was only an occasional student who had higher aims. The first diplomas were for those desiring to direct Sing- und Spielgruppen and teach Hausmusik and then later an occasional one for recorder. Thus here too, her Dutch education had a direct impact on her work in Basel. It is not until 1947 that things began to change, following her first workshops in the Netherlands, when a small body of Dutch students, all eager to profit from her knowledge and the infrastructure of the school, came to Basel. They included Gustav Leonhardt and Jan Boeke, the director of Cappella Amsterdam, a choir with great impact on the Early Music movement in Holland, both of whom had been students of Anthon van der Horst. They were followed shortly thereafter by a group of students from Sweden, of whom the choir director Eric Ericson and the composer Sven-Erik Bäck are perhaps the most well-known, who saw her approach as a way of bringing musical renewal to Sweden.  

Post-War Activities in the Netherlands

But how did she come to give courses in the Netherlands? The impetus for her first lecture came from Gerardus van der Leeuw – who wrote an internationally recognized book on the relationship between religion and the arts – and Kees van Dorp who had both been in Basel shortly after the war to visit the famous Protestant theologian Karl Barth and were told by acquaintances that they must also visit one of her lessons. As van der Leeuw was leaving he told Ina Lohr that "we must have that in Holland too." So in July 1946 she spoke in Haarlem at a national conference devoted to the reformation of music within the Protestant church. Because of the importance of this event, it received much medial attention. We thus have a clear idea of what took place there and how her lecture was received. The review of 30 July 1946 in the Utrechts Nieuwsblad reports that she spoke to the question of how we should sing our songs, answering with  

"for the moment in unison without accompaniment". She then sang psalm 23 in a tempo twice as fast as the congregation had used for hymn 98. According to Ina Lohr, it is really not about singing fast all the time; that is an opinion that at the moment one often hears expressed, but one has to start from the comprehensibility of the text. If the singing is to be good, then one has to not only listen to oneself, but also to that which one hears to the left and which one hears from the right, and that one can only do if one does not sing too loudly. In order to prove this by example and in order to indicate what one can achieve with other methods than the usual ones, the speaker had the congregation sing and this experiment produced a surprising effect. It was no longer the expressionless singing, which we [...] still far too often hear, but music which gave the impression that it was sung by a veritable choir.[19] 

This description reveals the broad experience Ina Lohr had gained in Basel not only from her teaching at the Schola Cantorum, but from her efforts to help propagate the so-called "Probeband" in the early 1940's, a trial Protestant hymnal for the German-speaking regions of Switzerland containing many unaccompanied early Reformation melodies in their more complex rhythmic form. She had the stature to not only get up in front of a large audience and present her ideas clearly, but also to do so in such a manner that she immediately involved all of them in the process. 

Jan BoekeThe response was so great that not only was she invited back to give courses in the following three years, both in Haarlem and in Utrecht, but the desire was openly stated in the press, that she return to Holland. As the influential organist Hendrik Leendert Oussoren put it "It is to be hoped that Ina Lohr may be found willing to return to Holland in order to found a center for the performance of church music."[19] We know from her diary and the correspondence with Paul Sacher that she very seriously considered this idea, but in the end she once again committed herself to the continued cooperation with Paul Sacher.[20] Nonetheless she had considerable influence over the core program of the Centrum voor de Protestanse Kerkzang, the Center for Protestant church music, founded in 1950, in that many of its initial leaders were the major promoters and organizers of her courses in Holland. In particular Jan Boeke [Photo: Anneke Boeke] was so impressed with her work that he spent a year at the Schola studying church music with her. She regarded him as a kind of musical son, someone who was actively putting her ideas concerning music into practice in his work with the Cappella Amsterdam. It was also he who was responsible for encouraging Henk van Benthem to go to Basel for a year at the beginning of the 1980's and translate Ina Lohr's book, Solmisation und Kirchentonarten (Basel, 1943), into Dutch. 

As Jolande van der Klis pointed out in her groundbreaking book on the Dutch Early Music movement, Oude muziek in Nederland (Utrecht, 1991), her work not only served as a model for the Centrum, but also for those promoting huismuziek. During the pre-war and war years, huismuziek had been cultivated within the socialist youth organization, AJC, the Dutch equivalent of the German Singbewegung. In the period immediately following the war it was recognized that if one wanted to continue to develop and expand this type of amateur music-making, it would be necessary to train leaders of such ensembles in order to promote and ensure a higher standard of musicianship. One looked to Ina Lohr in this, as well, as she was responsible for such a training program at the Schola Cantorum. Just as she saw early music as being a key for liturgical renewal within the Protestant church, Ina Lohr also believed that it could fulfill a unifying function within domestic circles as it had in the past. In writing about why early music came to play such a role within such circles, she reflected that it no doubt 

concerns those, who know or suspect that at all times and in all countries and portions of the world there have been people who came together in order to sing and play with the conscious or unconscious intention of finding something of that which lies behind and above all human thinking and activity. We probably choose to seek Hausmusik in the so-called "early music", because it opens up something of the spirit of former generations for us, which, to be sure, lived differently than we do, but were still trying to express the same thing.[21] 

Common to her attitude toward both church and house music, was this desire to get in touch with "that which lies behind and above all human thinking and activity." I suspect that it was her ability to reach out and enter into this larger realm, so that all that were singing with her could also experience it to some degree, was in the end that which made her such a captivating teacher. Indeed when speaking with various of her former students, most have found it difficult to put into words what they actually learned from her. Perhaps Christopher Schmidt expressed this best when he spoke of her not being a musician in the usual sense, but that somehow in her performance she came to embody that which one was forever seeking in the music.[23] 

Renske NiewegBe that as it may, Renske Nieweg [Photo:], one of the foremost figures of the AJC, also participated in Ina Lohr's workshops in the late 40's and closer contact was established between the two. In addition, she provided music for a Christmas concert [Photo:] of Renske Nieweg's Amerfoort group, with much detailed discussion as to the exact instrumentation, due to the fact that Ina Lohr had never worked with forces of that magnitude. The closeness of the bond between them can be measured by the fact that in 1981 Ina Lohr offered Renske Nieweg the informal "jou." Another important member of the Dutch huismuziek movement, Wil Waardenburg, was sufficiently engaged by the workshops to go and study for a year in Basel. She was followed there by her cousin Henk  Waardenburg who received the very last Schola Huismuziek degree Christmas celebration with Renske Niewegin 1957. Thus Ina Lohr was a significant source of inspiration to the movement in the critical period immediately following the war; her Dutch background made her trustworthy, while at the same time her Swiss perspective enabled it to move beyond its musical connection with the German Jugendmusikbewegung.




Kees VellekoopIndirectly she was also influential in the Dutch musicological world in that she had a close friendship with Kees Vellekoop [Photo:], the eminent Dutch scholar of medieval music. As Jan Boeke had done previously, Kees Vellekoop spent a year studying with her in Basel in the mid-sixties, a time in her life when she had officially retired from teaching at the conservatory level. Judging from her side of the correspondence, he was one of the few people with whom she had a true musical exchange, on the one hand enjoying being taken seriously by a musicologist, while at the same time allowing her own ideas to be questioned or stimulated by his approach, his work. These letters give a more differentiated insight into her way of thinking about music. 



Christopher Schmidt and Gustav LeonhardtAnd last, but certainly not least, one has to mention her influence on Gustav Leonhardt [The photo shows Christopher Schmidt and Gustav Leonhardt. Photo: Christopher Schmidt]. According to Christopher Schmidt, one of Leonhardt's fellow students, Ina Lohr was central to their musical training. And Leonhardt himself wrote Ina Lohr on her 80th birthday that he cannot mention all he has to thank her for 

perhaps because it is so interwoven with my entire musical development; however, I do want to mention here the enormous experience with melodic monophony for which I have to thank you. Even a harmonist (which a harpsichordist principally is) can make use of that! I am very grateful to you for the place you took and take in my musical development and wish you joy and health from all my heart.[24]


In Appreciation

Ina Lohr standing in her office

In conclusion this brings us to the question – apart from her own desire to stay out of the limelight – of why Ina Lohr  has largely been forgotten today. [The photograph shows her in her office. Photo: Aleid and Floris Zuidema] One very important reason, and one that deserves careful scrutiny, is that in the sixties we – and I very much include myself in that pronoun – redefined the concept of "early music" to mean "music of earlier eras played according to the professional standards of conservatory musicians in accordance to our interpretation of the sources." We had a tendency to discredit the work of those who went before us simply because it did not match the current standards of our day. But our work would have been impossible without all of the countless musicians who went before us, such as Ina Lohr, who brought the works and the sources to light. 

In the specific case of Ina Lohr, however, I think it is also because her own personal focus of interest did not match the publicly declared intentions of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, namely the teaching of and research into the performance of early music. She had a kind of inner light which allowed her to take inspiration from Gregorian chant, from the Caecilian movement, from the modern works that she discovered together with Paul Sacher, from musicology and make use of all of what she learned to attain her own goal: the renewal of the liturgical function of music within the Protestant church, and in this way truly transcended the boundaries of Early Music. In saying this, I do not in any way want to denigrate her knowledge of the music and sources of earlier periods, which was truly remarkable; but by pursuing this goal under "false" premises, she was as it were, lost track of within the "real" Early Music movement. Indeed, the time when she was most successful, where her abilities received general recognition, was in the period immediately following the war in Holland, where there was a congruence between her goals and her professional activities. 

If nothing else, my work on this project has taught me about the simplistic nature of my own approach to Early Music. It makes it evident how strongly I have been influenced in my work not only by my own culture, but by cultures of which I had been completely unaware. On the one hand, I am in the process of learning to question some of my very basic beliefs, and on the other, it has in turn given me additional inspiration just to follow my own path. 

In homage to her, I would now like to put her in center stage, let her have the final word, singing a song that she wrote in 1950, Die mijns harten vrede:

Recording courtesy of Elisabeth and Hinrich Stoevesandt.


Die mijns harten vrede zijt.         He who is my heart’s peace,

En de eenig ware ruste,               And the only true rest,

Reine bron van klare lusten,       Pure source of unsullied desires,

Zuivre zon van zaligheid -           Spotless sun of salvation-

Laat mij willen en niet willen,     Let me want and not want,

Wat Gij wilt en niet en wilt,         What Thou wantest and and wantest not,                                                                                   

Blijde gaande door het stille       Going joyous through the silent

Leven in uw vreê verstild.            Life tranquil in Thy peace.

Buiten U is niets dan strijd,         Outside Thee is naught but strife,

Niets dan moeiten,                       Naught but struggles,

niets dan zorgen -                        Naught but cares-

Laat mij, in Uw rust geborgen,    Let me, sheltered in Thy rest,

Slapen gaan in eeuwigheid.        Go to sleep in eternity.


Words: Jacqueline Elisabeth van der Waals (1909) adapted from a poem by Thomas à Kempis. Translated by J.J.G. Muller-van Santen

Anne Smith


[1]     For the following information concerning both families I am greatly indebted to Elisabeth van Blankenstein. Not only was she extraordinarily helpful in responding to specific questions, she also gave me much of the documentary material, including two of her New Year's letters, from 2012 and 2015 (each containing a nugget of family history). In addition the entry for "Herman Lohr" in the Biografisch Woordenboek Gelderland, Hilversum, 2002, pp. 94-97 proffers much information concerning Herman Lohr's professional career.

[2]     Letter Ina Lohr to Paul Sacher.

[3]     Memoirs of Judith Schmiz, Elisabeth van Blankenstein's father's sister, written for her children, p. 154. Courtesy of Elisabeth van Blankenstein.

[4]     Interview with Elisabeth Stoevesandt, 15 January 2015.

[5]     "ersten, sehr geduldigen Musiklehrer, denen wir alles nachsangen, und zwar mit gewissenhafter Genauigkeit, so dass kein Portamento, kein Schluchzer, keine Fermate mit Tremolo verloren ging." Basler Nachrichten, 20-21 November 1954. The description in the following paragraphs of what they learned from recordings is all taken from this article.

[6]     Cf. Anne Smith, "Ina Lohr - Seele der Schola,"

[7]     Jo Juda, concertmaster of the Concertgebouw from 1963-1974, writes in his autobiography, De zon stond nog laag, Nieuwkoop, 1975, p. 146, that "his parents had heard, however, that one taught in a more modern way at the Muziek Lyceum." "Mijn ouders hadden echter gehoord dat er op het Muziek Lyceum op meer moderne wijze werd lesgegeven."

[8]     For further information Jed Wentz, "H.R. and the formation of an Early Music aesthetic",

[9]     "'t Is daarom in alle waarheid een geestelijke "eisch van onzen tijd" degelikjke vakstudie te verbinden met wijsgeerige en religieuze bezinning, en wel zóó, dat deze niet naast de vakstudie blijft, maar als "centralieteit van bewustzijn" alle vakstudie doordringt, verdiept en verpuurt." Muziek-Lyceum, prospectus of 1921, p. 39.

[10]     Emblematic for his insistence on this approach is the fact that Calkoen loaned Jo Juda several works by two authors on spiritual and philosophic subjects, Jiddu Krishnamurti and Mathieu Hubertus Josephus Schoenmaekers. Jo Juda, op.cit., p. 157.

[11]    See Gerd Oost, Anthon van der Horst 1899-1965: Leven en werken, Alphen aan den Rijn, 1992, p. 20.

[12]     "niet veel meer dan eene plegtige oplezing, en geleek evenzeer op spreken als op zingen." Ibid., p. 88.

[13]   "weil die Liedform es uns ermöglicht gemeinsam einen Text zu sagen und zu überlegen, um so, singend, [...] zum Loben Gottes zu kommen. Wenn es sich so verhält, müsste dieses Singen recht nahe am Sagen des Verses, beim eigentlichen Skandieren bleiben. Nun ist das ruhige, metrisch-rhythmische Sagen eines Verses eine Uebung, die uns weitgehend verloren gegangen ist. Das Lesen von Versen wird heute fast immer zu Gunsten der Persönlichen Deutung und Gestaltung dem Lesen von Prosa angepasst. Damit geht aber das Wesen des Verses verloren. Im Vers steht jede Zeile für sich da, sogar, wenn der Satz in die nächste Zeile hinübergeht, die verschiedenen Zeilen einer Strophe bilden ein Ganzes. Der Reim begünstigt sowohl die Selbständigkeit, wie auch die Zusammengehörigkeit der Zeilen, Metrum und Rhythmus, halten Vers und Strophe „in Ordnung“. Durch diese Ordnung wird das gemeinsame Lesen erst wirklich möglich. Fehlen Rhythmus und Reim, so werden wir schwerlich ein klares gemeinsames Sagen erreichen.

[14]   Interview for the Dutch radio with Jos Leussink, 1983. It was never aired.

[15]   Interview with Jos Leussink, 1983.

[16]  "en toen kwam ik in een echte Parijse salon, vol met alle mogelijke kleine – ik heb ook van die kleine dingetjes, die daar zo rondstaan, die niet nodig zijn, wat natuurlijk wel eens onnodig gevonden wordt in mijn beroep – maar dat was bij Lily Boulanger nu werkelijk zo dat je niet wist hoe je op je stoel moest zitten. Het was alles vol. Maar er ging iets van haar uit, dat was werkelijk ongelooflijk.       

En toen zijn we met elkaar naar de repetitie geweest, de generale repetitie die Strawinsky zelf dus dirigeerde, en toen kwam ik naast haar te zitten en keek in de eerste grote handgeschreven partituur van Strawinsky, en ze vroeg wat ik daar vond en daar vond, en (ze) zei meteen, ze wou me wel één, twee jaar houden. Waarop ik zei: 'maar weet U, ik voel me helemaal niet thuis in uw salon, ik ben geen salonmens, en in zoverre – ik houd erg veel van Parijs, ik ken Parijs vrij goed, ben altijd met mijn ouders hier geweest, in mei, een maand om premières te horen, dat weet ik allemaal – maar ik zou hier niet kunnen aarden. Terwijl in het kleine Stadje Basel heb ik me van het eerste moment af aan thuis gevoeld, dat is voor mij heel gewichtig. Ik hoef niet beroemd te worden.' Daar was ze zo stom verbaasd over, dat ik zei: 'c’est pas necessaire, pas necessaire d’être celèbre, pas du tout.' Toen was ze zo stom verbaasd [...] We zijn als goede vrinden uit elkaar gegaan." Interview with Jos Leussink, 1983. See also

[17]   "Es besteht die Absicht, in Basel ein Forschungs- und Lehr-Institut für alte Musik unter dem Namen Schola Cantorum Basiliensis ins Leben zu rufen. Seine Aufgabe ist die Erforschung und praktische Erprobung aller Fragen, welche mit der Wiederbelebung alter Musik zusammenhängen, mit dem Ziel eine lebendige Wechselwirkung zwischen Wissenschaft und Praxis herzustellen." From: Wulf Arlt, "Zur Idee und Geschichte eines "Lehr- und Forschungsinstituts für alte Musik": Paul Sacher als Gründer und Direktor der Schola Cantorum Basiliensis wie der Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel", in: Alte und Neue Musik II: das Basler Kammerorchester (Kammerchor und Kammerorchester) unter Leitung von Paul Sacher 1926-1976, Zürich, 1976, p. 45-46.

[18]   Ibid., p. 47.

[19]   "hoe zingen we de liederen", beantwoordde zij met: "voorloopig onbegeleid eenstemmig". Zij zong daarop psalm 23 voor in eens zoo snel tempo als de gemeente gzang 98 ten gehoore had gebracht. Het gaat er echter niet om, aldus Ina Lohr, om altijd vlug te zingen; dat is een opvatting, die men tegenwoordig dikwijls hoort verkondigen, doch men moet uitgaan van de verstaanbaarheid van den tekst. Wil de zang goed zijn, dan moet men niet alleen zichzelf hooren, maar ook luisteren na naar wat men links hoort en wat men rechts hoort en dat kan alleen wanneer men niet te luid zingt. Om de proef op de som te nemen en om aan te toonen wat met andere dan de gebruikelijke methoden kan worden bereikt, liet spreekster de gemeente zingen en deze oefening leverde een verrassend effect op. Die was niet meer de uitdrukkingslooze zang, dien wij [...] nog te vaak hooren, doch muziek, die den indruk maakte alsof ze door en behoorlijk koor werd gezongen." Music editor, " Een leerrijk orgelcongres in de Jacobikerk: Verrassend effect van gemeentezang," Utrechts Nieuwsblad, 30 July 1946.

[20]   "Het is te hopen, dat Ina Lohr bereid gevonden kan worden naar Holland terug te keren om hier een centrum van kerkmuziekbeoefening te stichten." H.L. Oussoren, 'Het Nederlandse muziekleven in het heden', Wending 3, 1948, p. 628.

[21]    A more complete discussion of the intricacies of Ina Lohr's religious beliefs and how they impacted on her relationship with Paul Sacher will be forthcoming in my forthcoming biography of her.

[22]   "Es geht um solche, die wissen oder ahnen, dass es zu allen Zeiten und in allen Ländern und Weltteilen Menschen gegeben hat, die zusammenkamen, um miteinander zu singen und zu spielen in der bewussten oder unbewussten Absicht, etwas von dem zu finden, was hinter und über allem menschlichen Denken und Tun steht. Wahrscheinlich suchen wir darum die Hausmusik gerne in der sogenannten "alten Musik", weil sie uns etwas vom Geiste früherer Generationen erschliesst, die zwar anders lebten als wir, auch doch das gleiche auszudrücken bemüht waren." "Einige Gedanken zum Thema 'Hausmusik – Konzertmusik'," Singt und Spielt 19 (1951), p. 19.

[23]   Interview 25.02.2016.

[24]   "misschien ook omdat het zo verwerven is met de hele muzikale ontwikkeling; toch wil ik hier de enorme ervaring van de melodische eenstemmigheid die ik U te danken heb, noemen. Zelf een harmonist (die een clavecinist toch grotendeels is) kan daar gebruik van maken! ik ben U zeer dankbaar voor de plaats die U in mijn muzikale ontwikkeling innam en inneemt en wens U van ganser harte vreugde en gezondheid toe." Brugge, 28. July 1983. Paul Sacher Stiftung, Sammlung Ina Lohr.

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