The Erasmus Foundation established two awards to stimulate the interest in the Netherlands by Australian students.
The Willem van Otterloo Memorial Award
Willem van Otterloo was the chief conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra from 1967 to 1973 and from 1973 chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra till his untimely death on 27 July 1978 due to a traffic accident. Prior to that he was the chief conductor of The Hague Residentie-Orkest. He toured widely with his orchestras through Europe and the United States and is credited with establishing Australia's musical reputation.
We were approached in June 1980 by John Hopkins, Dean of the Music Faculty, Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) to help establish a trust to commemorate Willem van Otterloo. Our then president Jonas Kreveld took this request on with enthusiasm and managed to raise about $30,000 from various Dutch related donors. During further years at least another $10,000 was raised (see flyer). The fund is managed by Melbourne University. In principle a prize of between $2,000 - $10,000 was awarded from earnings of the fund. KLM also often offered a ticket at a discount. At the end of December 2021 the fund stood at $62,000 reflecting good earnings and the fact that a prize was not awarded every year.
The first Willem van Otterloo prize of $2,000 was awarded in 1980 (the prize money was gradually raised to suit needs). Successive Dutch ambassadors were asked to be a patron for the fund.
The fund’s aim is to continue Willem van Otterloo’s work of encouraging young musicians and strengthening the ties between the Netherlands and Australia. The preference is for a final year music student to study further in the Netherlands and this is part of the selection criteria. However, an outstanding student can also study somewhere else in Europe if that is desired.
At various times the winner of the prize gave a recital for Erasmus members in venues including the Federation Hall of the VCA, the Melbourne Town Hall and the Brighton Yacht Club.
The prize is currently only provided every 3 years to conserve funds (the last award in 2022 was for $6,000). The Erasmus committee is now attempting to raise additional funds so that the award can at least be provided every second year. We currently liaise with the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, which has immersed the VCA Music Faculty.
Donations can be made directly to the fund and are tax deductable:
Continue: The Jacob Smit award