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Edward C. Crommelin

Dates: 1914-1982

Edward Constantin Crommelin had a varied biography that can be more readily summarized if it were separated into 'chapters'. If done this way, the chapters might be labelled as follows:

The Early Years - 1914-1923
  • Remembering Anton Pieck, his art instructor
    The Jazz Years - 1923-1939
    The War Years - 1939-1945
    The Post-War UNRRA/IRO Years - 1945-1952
  • Remembering Jacob Cats
    The Canada Years - 1952-1982
  • (Picture at right taken about 1955)

    Ed had a great love for music and involved himself with it in many different ways.
    • As a youngster he formed a 'mobile' band on a wagon drawn by a horse
    • as a teenager he played drums in a high school jazz band
    • as a student he wrote prolifically about jazz for the Kennemer Lyceum journal
    • as a booking agent in Holland he arranged jazz concerts for visiting jazz 'greats' from America
    • as a recording engineer in the studios of Dutch Decca he produced some notable disks
    • with home-recording equipment during World War II he cut many records in occupied Holland of clandestine short-wave radio broadcasts
    • as one who fancied antique sound equipment he built a collection which included an old wire recorder, old phonographs including an Edison cylinder phonograph, tape recorders, short-wave radios, and thousands of '78 rpm records
    • in Canada he was interviewed several times on CBC radio and television regarding his music collection
    • and he also helped in the formation of CJVB radio station in Vancouver.

    In the course of making jazz popular in Holland during the 1930's, Ed was president of the Dutch Jazz League through which he booked visiting artists for engagements in Holland. Many of these performers such as Django Reinhardt, Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, Freddy Johnson, Eddie South, Billy Mason, and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France have become legendary in that genre of music.

    Then in 1938 he conceived and organized the first live international "simul-cast" broadcast of various Dutch jazz bands over Dutch radio together with an American jazz band that was also beaming live via short-wave radio, and thus part of the same Dutch radio concert. Fortunately atmospheric conditions were good and this "international program" was a great success!

    While music was his passion, his working life had much to do with his meticulous bookkeeping and accounting skills that served him well with the United Nations (Austria) UNRRA program in the post-war years, and later as an auditor with Gulf Oil (formerly the British American Oil Company) in Canada. When the Austrian mission of the IRO (International Refugee Organization) closed down in 1952, Ed and his family emigrated to Canada aboard the Holland-America liner, "Dalerdijk", which took them to Vancouver after a 6-week voyage via the Panama Canal.

    An avid historian, Ed liked to collect news clippings and sound bites of significant current events which he lived through. This fascination with history also led him to collect a great deal of family-related genealogical memorabilia.

    - notes by (son) Miff Crommelin, December 2006