About Rudolf Theodorus Palm
The multi-talented composer and musician Rudolf Theodorus Palm was born in Curaçao on 11 January 1880. At the age of seven, Rudolf Palm started to take flute lessons with his grandfather Jan Gerard Palm (1813-1906), who is often referred to as the “Father of Curaçao’s classical music”. With Jan Gerard Palm, Rudolf also learned to play clarinet, piano and saxophone and further received lessons from him in music theory, harmony as well as composition and orchestration. Rudolf taught himself to play the double bass, mandolin, organ, cuatro and guitar.
At the still young age of nineteen, Rudolf Palm was appointed music director of the Citizen’s Guard Orchestra in Curaçao. This music directorship was becoming a Palm tradition that had started in 1841 with Frederik Wilhelm Palm. As an organist, Rudolf Palm played for many years in the Protestant Fort Church (1901-1946), in the Jewish Emanu-El (1911-1950) and Mikvé Israel synagogue (1926-1928) and in the Igualdad Lodge (1903-1950). In 1901, Rudolf founded the chamber orchestra Los Dispuestos, consisting of twenty musicians, and some years later the sextet Los Seis. Rudolf was also the music director of De Harmonie. As a solo performer he gave several organ concerts and also acted as a piano accompanist in various concerts. For many years he played the flute as a member of the Curaçao Philharmonic Orchestra.
Rudolf Palm received recognition as a composer of what is today known as the typical dance music of the 19th and early 20th centuries of Curaçao. Besides music for piano, he also wrote compositions for ensembles and for philharmonic orchestras. His eldest known composition, La Coronación, dates from 1898. It was played during the festivities that took place in Curaçao to celebrate the crowning of the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina. In addition to instrumental music, Rudolf also wrote songs for poems written by Curaçaoan poets and writers. The first recording of Rudolf Palm’s music took place in 1929 in New York for the Brunswick label.
Rudolf Palm married Elvira Raimundo Prais and, of his children, most notably his sons Albert Palm (1903-1958) and Edgar Palm (1905-1998) followed in his footsteps and continued the tradition of composing and performing music. Rudolf died on 11 September 1950 in Curaçao. The cortege at his funeral was headed by the St. Vicentius Harmonie playing a funeral march that Rudolf had himself composed in his final days. It was one of the best attended funerals in Curaçao’s history. The island of Curaçao was paying its respects to one of its great musicians.