Wim Statius Muller
Wim Statius Muller (Curaçao, 26 January 1930 – Curaçao, 31 August 2019) was a Curaçaoan composer and pianist, nicknamed "Curaçao's Chopin" for his romantic piano stylings. Although he was a Juilliard graduate, his musical career did not begin in earnest until after he retired from a career in security and counterintelligence.
Statius Muller was born in 1930 on Curaçao, in Willemstad's Otrabanda district. He began piano lessons at age seven with Jacobo Palm, among others. He received a thorough musical education, entering in 1949 the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, where he studied piano and composition with Josef Raieff (the last pupil of Alexander Siloti).
He received his degree in 1954, and in 1955 began teaching piano and music history at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. In 1960, Statius Muller left his position at the University to accept a job as a civil servant, initially in Willemstad (Curaçao), where he was asked to collaborate in the creation of a security service. In 1972, he relocated to the Netherlands, later describing this move as follows:
- "This was in the days of the Cold War and I had been appointed to head a team of academics in the Dutch Counterintelligence Service that analyzed the policies of the various communist countries. Our job was to slip into the skin of the opponents’ ideologies and figure out their intentions."
After his retirement in 1995, he returned to Curaçao, where he had more time for the piano.
Statius Muller had two children, daughter Annette and son John. His grandson, Alexander Kraft van Ermel, has followed his footsteps as a pianist.
Statius Muller was a student of Jacobo Palm, and has been influenced by Palm, whose grandfather Jan Gerard Palm initiated the popularity of salon music and Caribbean dance music based on classical music. Also, waltzes and Frédéric Chopin's mazurkas were played a lot in Curaçao, and have strongly influenced his work.
Statius Muller especially composed music for dancing, in settings for piano, not only waltzes and mazurkas, but also Caribbean dances such as the tumba derived originally from the Congo. Tropical, syncopated rhythms are clearly apparent in virtually all of his works. The works are, however, no longer intended to dance to, but are stylized and refined into concert music.
Many of his over 200 compositions are not published. A well-known published work is the Antillean Dances for piano (opus 2, 4, 5, 6). He performed many of his own compositions.
Documentary and awardsEdit
In 2013 a documentary about Statius Muller was created by filmmaker Alaric Alexander Smeets. The documentary is entitled Nostalgia:The Music of Wim Statius Muller, after a waltz which is one of Statius Muller's most famous works.
In 2012 Statius Muller was awarded a Silver Carnation by Queen Beatrix for his contribution to the preservation of the musical heritage of the Caribbean Islands, in particular of the classical music of Curaçao. Statius Muller was also praised as a mentor and inspiration to young musicians in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.
In 1994, Wim Statius Muller recorded a CD as a pianist, performing his own compositions, Antillean Dances Opus 4, on René Gailly CD87018. He has also recorded a CD, Antillean Treasures, on the Bruno Klassiek label.
Sources and referencesEdit
- Curaçao’s Chopin, at Expatcalidocious. Retrieved 7 June 2013
- In the Spotlight: Wim Statius Muller, Reina van Nieuwkerk-Rácz, at The Underground The Hague. Retrieved 5 June 2013
- "Wim Statius Muller overleden". Antilliaans Dagblad (in Dutch). 1 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- For the influence of Chopin on the music of Curaçao, see also the book by Jan Brokken, Why eleven Antilleans knelt before the heart of Chopin (in the Dutch language) and the 48-minute VPRO Free Sounds broadcast dedicated to Brokken and Statius Muller.
- Chopin in the Antilles, at The Fortchurch & The Protestant Cultural Historical Museum. Retrieved 7 June 2013
- Wim Statius Muller at IMDb
- Wim Statius Muller awarded with the Silver Carnation of the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, with photos and videos of the ceremonies and of Statius Muller, at WENSHOW. Retrieved 6 May 2013
- Wim Statius Muller Discography of CDs, at CD Universe. Retrieved 5 June 2013
- CD Wim Statius Muller, Antillean Treasures, Bruno Klassiek catalog. Retrieved 5 June 2013
- David Dubal interview of Wim Statius Muller, WNCN-FM, 8 March 1984