Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921).

  • Profession: Teacher Latin, composer
  • Residences: Amsterdam.
  • Relation to Mahler: Friend.
  • Correspondence with Mahler: 
  • Born: 02-09-1862 Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Married: 08-08-1895 in Rosmalen, the Netherlands (without ecclesiastical blessing) until 1921 to Elsa Diepenbrock (1868-1939). Diepenbrock family not present.
  • Died: 05-04-1921 Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Aged 58.
  • Buried: 09-04-1921 Amsterdam, the Netherlands, RK Begraafplaats Buitenveldert, grave A-I-238.
  • 04-06-1893 het visited Annastate in Den Bosch for the first time where he met his future wife Elsa Diepenbrock (1868-1939) lived. He played music by Richard Wagner (1813-1883) there. Else admired Wagner. Diepenbrock hesitated about a marriage proposal. The combination of being a teacher and the ambition as an artist played a role. In that case Elsa would be subordinate to the artist who gets all the attention. The perverse enjoyment of the melancholy of Alphons played also a role. The husband of Elsa's sister (Cecile, Paul Goekoop) was very prosperous and offered to help financially if necessary.
  • 12-1893 Wedding proposal. Alphons was from a Catholic family. Else was Protestant.
  • Alphons was less concerned with feminism than Else and had a weak health.
  • 1895: It took one and a half years to try to have a mixed marriage with a church blessing.
  • Alphons stopped his work as a school teacher.
  • 1904-1919: Lover of Johanna Jongkindt (1882-1945) (Jo).


  1. Joanna Diepenbrock (1905-1966), partner of Jan Engelman 1938-1966 (Jang).
  2. Thea Diepenbrock (1907-1995), married to Matthijs Vermeulen 1946-1967 (Beer).

08-03-1906: See Zuiderzee and House Diepenbrock.

Alphonsus Johannes Maria Diepenbrock was a Dutch composer, essayist and classicist. Diepenbrock was not a musician by training. Brought up in a prosperous Catholic family, although he showed musical ability as a child, the expectation was that he would enter a university rather than a conservatory. And so he studied classics at the University of Amsterdam, gaining his doctorate cum laude in 1888 with a dissertation in Latin on the life of Seneca. The same year he became a teacher in Latin at the urban gymnasium in Den Bosch, a job which he held until 1894, and his decision to devote himself to music. He made an ethereal and tormented impression on his fellow citizens at the time. The husband of Elsa's sister was very prosperous and offered to help financially if needed.

  • Influenced by Wagner but with his own idiom.
  • Editor of De Nieuwe Gids in Amsterdam.

As a composer, he had been completely self-taught from an early age.

Year 1906Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921) and Joanna (1905-1966).

He created a musical idiom which, in a highly personal manner, combined 16th-century polyphony with Wagnerian chromaticism, to which in later years was added the impressionistic refinement that he encountered in Debussy's music. His predominantly vocal output is distinguished by the high quality of the texts used. Apart from the Ancient Greek dramatists and Latin liturgy, he was inspired by, among others, Goethe, Novalis, Vondel, Brentano, Hölderlin, Heine, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Baudelaire and Verlaine.

As a conductor, he performed many contemporary works, including Gustav Mahler's Fourth Symphony (at the Concertgebouw) as well as works by Fauré and Debussy.

Throughout his life, Diepenbrock continued his interests in the wider cultural sphere, remaining a classics tutor and publishing works on literature, painting, politics, philosophy and religion. Indeed during his lifetime his musical skills were often overlooked. Nonetheless, Diepenbrock was very much a respected figure within musical circles. He counted amongst his friends Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), Richard Strauss (1864-1949) and Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

Some works:

  • Missa in die festo (1891).
  • Te Deum (1897).
  • Ik ben in eenzaamheid niet meer alleen (1898).
  • Hymne an die Nacht (1899).
  • Vondels vaart naar Agrippine (1903).
  • Im Grossen Schweigen (1906).
  • Die Nacht (1911).
  • Marsyas (1910).
  • Gijsbreght van Aemstel (1912).
  • De Vogels (1917).
  • Elektra (1920).

1912. Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921) with his wife Elsa Diepenbrock (1868-1939) and their daughters Thea (1907-1995) and Joanna (1905-1966). Bredius forest, Laren, The Netherlands.


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