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Obituary of Jan van Os

Jan van Os passed away on the 26th of July, 2016. His friends, with whom he played gypsy music for decades, will always remember the image of him sitting behind his cimbalom in the middle of the ensemble. During the farewell ceremony, one of the ensemble members - Rolf Schuursma - expressed it as follows: 'Jan on the cimbalom, this image is etched in my memory. Jan bent over the strings, enthusiastic and confident; a beacon amidst the sometimes turbulent waters of our slightly anarchistic gypsy ensemble."


It was October 1954, when I first went to his house in Utrecht, attempting to secure a spot in the illustrious Student Gypsy Chapel Tzigane. Looking back, I can now say that I succeeded. At that time, there was a room full of unfamiliar people: Yntze Loopstra, Bob Phaf, Jan Buskop, Frits ten Cate, Lo van Ruyven and let's not forget Gerard Jager and Herman Lamers. There, Jan van Os was in the middle of the ensemble, playing the cimbalom; quiet, helpful, stimulating and tireless. Much later, long after leaving the scene of gypsy music for work-related reasons, I received a phone call. It was Jan.


He asked me whether I wanted to join in again. They still practised at Jan's place, now in Voorburg, where he and his wife Lieneke continued to offer their hospitality. It was then that we formed Hon Tzigane, consisting of Jan himself, Gerard Jager (as always our primas), Herman Lamers on the piano and myself on second fiddle. Four honoraries of Tzigane, assisted for some time by Kees de Ruiter on alto and from the start joined by base player Leo Kortekaas (from the Delft Siperkov Ensemble). Jan had a close relationship with the members of this ensemble: Fred Kreuger, Kees van Rossem, Willy Oosten, Rolf Koster and Marius van Meerten. For a long time, he was part of this ensemble, playing, as always, the cimbalom in his accurate, intense and tireless way. In our circle of friends, we have seen Jan in all sorts of situations. Such as the time that he carried his cimbalom up the stairs of an academy building, without any help. We also remember his peculiar habit of lying under his cimbalom in the middle of a musical performance "because the pedal had to be fixed".


Howerver, what made a lasting impression on us all was his creation of the website It is a database containing approximately 10,000 melodies of both gypsy and Hungarian origin. He put his heart and soul in building that website, and because of it, he became well-known or even famous all over the world. In recognition of his great achievements, he was made an honorary member by Tzigane. Now his instrument stands abandoned, his place in Hon Tzigane remains empty. Jan's place behind the cimbalom is vacant. And we miss a very good friend.'


Magyar Nóta Foundation

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