Born in Amsterdam Two – The Miracle Kids


Two busy weeks of absence in Holland and a backlog of blogs! Apologies!

Besides sightseeing  Amsterdam’s canals in a glass boat, having a good Indonesian “rijstafel”, or admiring the sacred paintings of Rembrandt and Van Gogh in the Rijks and Van Gogh Museums, Amsterdam is a city of music. So are New York, London and Paris you will say, but Amsterdam has its special sphere. My father, who was a classical pianist while being a beer brewer at the same time, lived a few hundred yards from the Concert Hall when I was born, and the family had even bought permanent seats there, so that they could attend a concert on short notice when they had time. Naturally, I had to take piano lessons as well, but unfortunately was not endowed with his tremendous talent and more inclined to play pop music and jazz. His early death avoided a definite father-son conflict in this area, but I always remained impressed with young people playing classical piano so well.

This is why I attended the recent Amsterdam Young Pianists Festival in November. Remembering how I struggled to read notes and translate them to the keyboard, I listened in awe to three finalists in the Youth Competition of the Young Pianists Festival. Yang Yang Cai (Dutch, 14 years old), Jorian van Nee (Dutch, 13 years old) and Youngjae Kim (Korean, a brilliant 13 year old autistic (!) youngster) played difficult Sonatas by Domenica Scarlatti and Piano concerto  nr. 14 by Amadeus Mozart, ALL BY HEART! You wonder how these young talents keep popping up in today’s lowbrow world. The accompanying Yehudi Menuhin School orchestra, flown over from London especially for this occasion, was a miracle by itself. These young musicians are still at school and play like full-fledged professionals.


The Yehudin Menuhin school orchestra with four young soloists directed by Malcom Singer.

If I had to be in the 8-member jury, I would have had a great problem choosing the best. I gave Yang Yang Cai the edge because she played her Sonatas very Scarlatti-like and the Mozart concerto as playfully as Mozart would have done it. So when I met her during the intermission, I took a picture of her, wishing her she would get the first place, which she did. Another point of surprise: these 13/14 year olds are not like 13 0r 14 year old kids anymore: they are way ahead in personal growth compared to the “normal”13 year olds. They are  naturally bright with a God-given talent.

Pictures of Iphone 570 Yang Yang Cai, a “professional”at age 14.

Pictures of Iphone 576Jorian Van Nee (Dutch) 13.  Chatting with his Dad? He got second place this time, but many ranked him first.

Piano Festival Jury-1


The jury included several renowned pianists (Anne Queffélec (Fr), Emile Naoumoff (Romania), Boris Berman (Russia), Evgeni Koroliov (Russia), Jorge-Luis Prats (Cuba), who each played individually. Jorge-Luis Prats played the most difficult “Valse” by Maurice Ravel to an audience that went ballistic about his virtuosity. Then they played all together on three pianos at the same time! It was so spectacular that they had to give two encores.

At a Sunday matinee concert, renowned pianist Paul Badura –  Skoda (Austrian from Vienna) played Bach and Mozart on a “pianoforte” instrument, between the clavecimbel and the later “piano”as we know it today, accompanied by an engaging quartet of two violinists, a cellist and a bassist. As much as you admire the “Miracle Kids”, you admire an 86 year old pianist, considered one of the most important pianists of our time. If I look at my fingers, half bent with arthritis, and his lean fingers still flying over the keyboard, I wonder what kind of miracle medicine he’s taking to stay at that height of pure professionalism, and that ALL BY HEART!

Paul Badura-Skoda

Eymert Van ManenEymert Van Manen was the unsurpassed Business Leader of the YPF.

The YPF took place in memory of Youri Egorov, a phenomenal Dutch-Russian pianist who succumbed to AIDS in 1988 at the age of 34 much the same famous dancer Rudolf Nureyev did in 1992 when the disease took many unsuspecting victims.

Youri Egorov

Youri Egorov. You cannot but love him when you hear him play.

 His fabulous records  can now be ordered at More information is available at

A most endearing and successful festival that I would not have missed for a million.




Add yours
  1. 1
    Dan Dwyer

    Great to see you back with your latest blog. Amazing how much is happening in the world when you are diving into your own history.

    • 2

      Dan: the older we get the more we want to know of our ancestors to find out what we were not told or unaware of. Then we compare. I am trying to get the younger generation interested, but they are too busy with their lives, and so were we. Until they reach the same apex and start digging themselves. The more you leave explained, the better it is for them.

  2. 3
    Ala H. Al-Kazzaz

    From your delicate description, I share your feelings and fascination of such a magnificent event. As kids and youth are most computer-talented, the same can be said of music. I think that music is the medicine for Paul Badura-Skoda, he doesn’t need chemical drugs to keep his finger so lean and responsive to the tones of music.
    Your article has made navigate into a glamorous atmosphere.
    Please keep enchanting us of such pleasant events.

  3. 4

    Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out.
    Please let me know where you got your design. Cheers

    • 5

      the theme of the blog is a picture I took at the Dead Sea in Jordan. put it on my site. The website was professionally developed by All this is a little bit of an investment ( charges $199p.a.) A good website will cost you around $2,000. Hope this helps. John

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