Leo Smit (1900-1943) was an outstanding Dutch composer of Jewish background who was ultimately murdered in Sobibor. His premature death at the hands of the Nazis represents a tremendous musical loss. Amongst his pupils was the prodigiously talented Dick Kattenburg (1919-1944). It can easily be imagined that, had he survived the Holocaust, Leo Smit’s talent might have become universally acknowledged. Smit’s unique musical voice often combines French coloured harmonies and Stravinskian melodic angularity and jazz inflections to produce a style that is satisfyingly complex yet thoroughly accessible.
Sonata for Flute and Piano
Sonata for flute and piano was the last work Smit would complete before being deported to Westerbork transit camp. While it is impossible to assert direct musical connections between this work and his tragic life circumstances, the deeply poignant slow middle movement of this work often has a strong emotional impact on listeners. It remains more often performed and recorded than the rest of the Sonata, whose difficulty might dissuade less technically developed flutists (and, for that matter, their pianist: this work is equally challenging for both players). However, this Sonata is a substantial, though relatively unknown, contribution to the Twentieth century flute repertoire.
Leo Smit Foundation website. Accessed 2 June 2017. www.forbiddenmusicregained.org/search/composer/id/100000