Jaap Nico Hamburger

Chamber Symphony No. 2

Children’s War Diaries

About the work

“Children’s War Diaries” Five diaries of teenagers who were murdered during the Second World War inspired this piece. These children did not survive, but their diaries did. Twenty years after reading these diaries, composer Jaap Hamburger’s 89-year-old mother, Jannie Moffie-Bolle, published her autobiography “Een hemel zonder vogels” (“A sky without birds”). She too was a teenager at the outbreak of the Nazi war in Europe. The book, among other things, describes her experiences in multiple Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau. In 2010, Jaap travelled with her to Israel on the occasion of the presentation of her book at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Memorial Center in Jerusalem.

The architecture of the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem is uniquely sobering. It memorializes 1.5 million murdered children, approximately 95% of all Jewish children ages 0-18 years old in occupied Europe. This staggering number is what led Raphael Lemkin to introduce the term “genocide” in his 1944 landmark publication, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. When Jaap – overwhelmed by the starkness of the Children’s Memorial – had left the building and stepped into the blazing Jerusalem sunlight, the contours of a new symphonic work came to mind, virtually complete. The composer went home and wrote it down. “Children’s War Diaries” is a symphony for chamber orchestra in five short movements.





I. May 1940
II. May 1941
III. May 1943
IV. May 1944
V. February 1945


Piccolo, Flute, Bb Clarinet, Bassoon

Trumpet in C (2) (first trumpet doubling Flugelhorn, Trumpet in Bb), Horn in F (2), Trombone

Glockenspiel, Snare Drum, Gran-Cassa, Tubular Bells, Tambourine,
Peking Gong, Tam-Tam (130 cm), Temple Blocks, Burma Bells (7.5"),

Cenceros (played with bow), Thunder Sheets (one low pitch, one high pitch), Gun, Piano, Voice Samples

Violin 1 (6), Violin 2 (6), Viola (6), Violoncello (4), Contrabass (2)
Movements 1 and 5: each string part to be played by a single player


Date of composition:



Recording: 2019, Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal under the direction of Vincent de Kort


Jaap Nico Hamburger writes music that is lyrical, evocative, and strikingly original. The recording of his piano concerto with the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, with pianist Assaff Weisman and conductor Vincent de Kort, was released in August 2020 on Leaf Music, followed by two symphonies in November 2020. His opera Goldwasser is in development, and will premiere in New York in 2021-22. 

Jaap Nico Hamburger is a CMC Associate Composer; President and CEO, Orange Music Inc., a Vancouver music production company; and a Director of City Opera Vancouver. He was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and started his musical education at the age of 3. He studied piano with Ruben Lifschitz, Alexandre Hrisanide and Youri Egorov. He is a graduate from the Royal Sweelinck Conservatorium of Music, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with a soloist degree in piano.


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Montreal (Quebec)
Canada  H2T 2P7



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