Johanna Maria (Jo) Vincent (Amsterdam , March 6, 1898 – Monaco , November 28, 1989) was a Dutch singer soprano.
Vincent became interested in music: her father was a piano teacher and organist, and enjoyed fame as a carilloneur at the Royal Palace on Dam Square. Already as a toddler ‘Jopie’ wanted to become a singer. Her joy was great when she was admitted at the age of nine in the children’s choir class of the singing teacher Catharina van Rennes. Later, as ‘Miss Jo’, she would accompany this choir at the piano for a few years. After obtaining the mulo diploma – her father initially demanded that she choose an office job – Jo, following the insistence of friends who thought she had a beautiful soprano voice, went on to become a vocal teacher. Her father and the vocal teacher Wilhelmina de Veer-de Lange trained her for the diploma of solo singing of the (Royal) Dutch Toonkunstenaars-Vereeniging, which she obtained cum laude in 1919. Then she started giving singing lessons. With the money thus earned, she in turn was able to pay for the lessons she received for a long time from the famous singer and pedagogue Cornelie van Zanten. Jo’s desire to become a singer herself did not seem to be suppressed.
In 1920, Jo Vincent made her debut in a noisy and smoky party room in Assendelft with a soprano solo from Die Schöpfung by Haydn. After this, more performances followed in the Zaan region and in Kennemerland. In 1923 she sang in the Lutheran Church on the Spui in Amsterdam for the first time in JS Bach’s Matthäus Passion , and in the same year she played in a folk concert with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Cornelis Dopper. It gradually became clear to everyone that Jo van IJzer-Vincent – as she called herself during her first, unhappy marriage – had a beautiful, radiant, crystal-clear voice. Her artless recitation, extravert nature and amiable appearance made her loved by a large audience. More and more often she was asked to act as a song and oratory singer.
From 1932, Jo Vincent sang under Mengelberg’s leadership in the St Matthew Passion , which was performed on Palm Sundays. With this she proved to be a worthy successor to Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius and Mia Peltenburg. Also from 1932 she was a regular contributor to the subscription concerts. When Mrs. Noordewier ended her singing career in 1930, Jo Vincent took over the famous church concerts from her. With the organist-pianist Anthon van der Horst and the Jo Vincent Quartet, which also consisted of alto Theodora Versteegh, tenor Evert Miedema and baritone Willem Ravelli, she made concert trips throughout the country to perform in church buildings in the autumn months. This quartet also regularly played religious songs for the NCRV microphone. In the 1930s, Jo Vincent also sang with the alto Suze Luger-van Beuge, the tenor Louis van Tulder and Willem Ravelli in the Hollandsch Vocaal Kwartet.
Although Jo Vincent was not interested in a foreign career – she rejected some attractive offers for permanent engagements in Hamburg, Berlin and Buenos Aires – she has repeatedly concertized outside of Holland. As early as 1929 in Paris, at the invitation of the French conductor Pierre Monteux, she sang the role of ‘Marguérite’ in La damnation de Faust by Berlioz, and five years later she was heard in Menlerberg’s Fourth Symphony in Mahler in Vienna . In 1936, a highlight of her career followed in the same city: led by the renowned Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, she collaborated on the performance of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis . In London, Jo Vincent was a soloist at the Promenade Concerts (the ‘Proms’), which at the time were led in Queen’s Hall by Sir Henry Wood.
When the German occupier set up the Kultuurkamer on 1 April 1942, Jo Vincent ceased her public appearances. Shortly before, during a performance at which Reich Commissioner Seyss-Inquart was also present, she had made it abruptly felt that she was not served by his admiration. To support her, Jo Vincent gave illegal house concerts, and she also gave concerts in her villa ‘Tetterode’ in Overveen. For her performances she asked a reward in kind, usually food. On 9 and 10 June 1945 she performed in ‘Vrije Klanken’, the first major concert that was held in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw after the liberation.
During the first post-war years, Jo Vincent sang a lot for very high fees. She then again took singing lessons with the soprano Ruth Horna. Jo Vincent gave many song evenings at that time, where she often performed works by her favorite composers Schubert and Hugo Wolf, while she was again to be heard in the St Matthew Passion . Moreover, she again performed abroad; especially in London she had triumphs. In July 1949 she sang with the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Eduard van Beinum together with the world-famous alto Kathleen Ferrier at the premiere of Benjamin Brittens Spring symphony . In order to generate interest in music among young people, she gave school concerts for the ‘Foundation for Music Education in Concert Form at Dutch Schools’.
Jo Vincent ended her wonderful career quite suddenly. She had had enough of the disciplined and demanding singers’ existence and wanted to devote herself to her pastimes: walking, gardening and keeping animals. From September until the final concert on December 30, 1953 in the Haarlem concert hall, she held a glorious farewell tour. After that she almost never sang again; Jo Vincent has been a part of music history ever since. After her departure, a record company was even under the assumption that she had already died and mistakenly mentioned the dates ‘1898-1955’ on the record sleeve on her record cover.