Vincent van Gogh was once 'ere

A fantastic piece of amateur archive detective work has revealed that the great Dutch painter was once a member of a Dutch wind band that soon became a brass band.

Van gogh
  Member number 64 — V v Gogh....

Exploring the archives of history always has the habit of throwing up a new fact or two that changes our perception of things.

So you can imagine the excitement when looking through the old records of former members of Brass Band Nuenen in The Netherlands recently, two amateur activists found a very familiar name that stood out.

van Gogh

A certain Vincent Willem van Gogh it seems was once a member of the local De Vooruitgang Wind Band, which was formed in 1884, and in turn became Brass Band Nuenen.

It seems that Van Gogh, who was born in Zundart in 1853, was a member of the band during his time living in the town. It was here that he produced one of his most famous paintings, 'The Potato Eaters' in 1885, and became romantically entwined with the tragic figure of Margot Begemann.

Van Gogh reportedly said about Nuenen: "And reality sometimes comes very close to the Brabant that one has dreamt..."


The artist painted several still-life works during his stay in Nuenen over two years, which ended in acrimonious circumstances resulting in the village priest telling parishioners that they shouldn't model for him.

Today however there is a museum there dedicated to his work.

Archive list

However, tucked away in an old archive list of members from the period, which included civic dignitaries, businessmen and people from the town, was Member No. 64: V. v Gogh. (above)

Intrigued to find out more, bass trombonist Arie van Kuijk who found the details, contacted van Gogh expert Ton de Brouwer (also a former chairman of Brass Band Nuenen) who had written a critically acclaimed book on the artist.

He said that whilst van Gogh endured a troubled time in Neunen he would have had to gain acceptance from at least two committees to have become a member of the band — an event that showed that at least a part of the local community held him in high regard.

tucked away in an old archive list of members from the period, which included civic dignitaries, businessmen and people from the town, was Member No. 64: V. v Gogh4BR

Media interest

Understandably the find has created a great deal of media interest with regional and national coverage on news outlets and media channels and newspapers.

In addition, following the investigation the current brass band is working on a project to celebrate the artist's connection with them.


Speaking to 4BR, spokesperson Tim Messerschmidt said: "We are currently working with composer Kevin Houben to write a musical story that will explore in music the life of Margot Begemann, who was that love of van Gogh's life in Neumen.

From this we also hope to produce a brass band test-piece aimed at the Third Section."

Become a supporter and help make our future secure.

4barsrest continues to be a proudly independent voice. There are no paywalls to overcome to be able to enjoy what we do to keep our journalism at the heart of the brass banding world. Support us with a one-off donation or subscribe from just £2.50 per month.

Support us    


New signings at Pemberton B

October 27 • There has been a welcome infusion of talent to the ranks of Pemberton Old Wigan 'B' Band.

Jim Martin

Death of Jim Martin

October 27 • The death has been announced of Jim Martin — the first President of the Whitburn Band


Global links for Tredegar Euph star

October 26 • Welsh champion's Taiwanese euphonium star is building his teaching connections across the globe from his new home in South Wales.


Report & Results: 2021 German Open

October 26 • 3BA Concert Band leads the prize winners on their journey to the European Championships after a fine weekend of music making in Brilon.

Glossop Old Band - Skelmersdale Prize Band

Monday 1 November • Glossop Band Club. Derby Street, Glossop SK13 8LP

Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Air Force Salon Orchestra

Friday 5 November • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London. WC1 2 DJ WC1 2 DJ

Glossop Old Band - St John's Mossley Band

Sunday 7 November • Glossop Band Club, Derby Street, Glossop SK13 8LP

Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Greenwich Brass Band

Sunday 7 November • St Alfege Church. Greenwich Church St. London SE10 9BJ

Abertillery Town Band - 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert

Saturday 13 November • Metropole Cultural and Conference Centre, Mitre St, Abertillery NP13 1AL


October 27 • Diggle band 2nd section North West are looking to appoint with immediate effect an experienced conductor to take the band forward. We offer a sensible mixture of concerts and contests. Rehearsals Tuesday's 7.45-9.45 pm. at Diggle Band Club. Saddleworth.

City of Bristol Brass Band

October 27 • A TENOR HORN player is required by City of Bristol Brass Band (competing in the First Section) with immediate effect. The successful applicant will join a successful, friendly band with some exciting concerts and contests already in the diary.

Cheltenham Silver Band

October 27 • Musical Director for 3rd section band.. Enthusiastic MD to work closely with the band to give an enjoyable, supportive and creative atmosphere in rehearsals, concerts and contests.. We would like to appoint someone to take us to the Areas in 2022..

James Chamberlain

BMus (Hons) PGCE
Conductor, Teacher


 © 2021 4barsrest.com Ltd