AMSTERDAM, 28 Dec. – The Dutch bassoonist Louis Salomons has passed away at the age of 49 on the 24th of December in Naarden. He lost his life due to a traffic accident.
The deceased, who was staying in Naarden, had lived in Mexico since 1953, where he was the Solo Bassoonist of the National Orchestra. He also taught at the conservatory and the university in Mexico City. Louis Salomons began his bassoon studies when he was ten years old and completed them four years later. He became a bassoonist in one of the radio orchestras of that time and in 1938 became Assistant Principal Bassoonist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. After the war he played for seven years in the Havana Symphony, directed by the German conductor Erich Kleiber. The cremation will take place on the 29th of December at half past two in Westerville. (ANP/ NRC 28-12-1970)
On the 24th of December 2020 at ten minutes til 4 p.m. it has been fifty years since a traffic accident put an end to the life of Louis Salomons. Salomons was in The Netherlands for a few weeks vacation. On that Thursday he was on his way to his lodgings on the Prins Frederik Hendriklaan 29 to celebrate Christmas with his boyhood friend Jan Eduard van Vegte and his family.
Curious about the actual facts of the case, I contacted the municipal archive of the municipality De Gooise Meren. I also hoped to confirm or deny the persistent rumor that Salomons may have committed suicide. After some insistence I got a copy of the official report. Although it wasn’t complete, as the personal information of the driver who caused the accident had been redacted, it made for interesting reading.
This afternoon at 15:50, a traffic accident occurred on the main thoroughfare of the Rijksweg no. 1 in Naarden near the intersection with the Thierensweg, involving a motor vehicle (details redacted) and a pedestrian named Louis Salomons, born in Amsterdam on July 15th, 1921, musician, residing at Avenida Chapultepec 646-9 Mexico D. F. 18 in Mexico, currently staying at Pr. Fred. Hendriklaan 29 in Naarden.
The pedestrian, coming from the direction of the Lambertus Hortensiuslaan, crossed over the main road in the direction of the Thierensweg. When he was about 3/4 of the way across the main road, he was run over by a motor vehicle (personal information redacted ) that was circulating on the main road coming from the direction of Amersfoort at a speed of approximately 90km per hour according to witnesses. The driver of the motor vehicle ran a yellow or red light. Salomons was thrown by the car and lay upon the ground severely injured. He was administered first aid at the scene by Dr. Beijerman of Gregoriussingel 5 in ‘s Hertogenbosch.
The victim was transported by ambulance, which arrived about 16:00, to the diaconessen hospital in Naarden, where he expired upon arrival.
The mayor as well as the coroner were informed of the events.
By order of the coroner I contacted the Officer of Justice Mr. Bergsma by telephone, who gave verbal permission for the burial of Salomons. Salomons’ body that was initially in our possession and that was taken to the funeral home van De Jager in Bussum was released to the above mentioned heer van de Vegte, as the deceased has no family members.
A wallet found in his possession containing some Mexican money as well as $1,500 in traveller’s checks was placed at the disposal of aforementioned Van de Vegte.
The auto is at the disposal of (redacted). The vehicle is in the impound and can be given to him tomorrow. Keys are on my desk.
The inquest was performed by the municipal coroner Dr. J. A. Franszen.
Investigation and official report by E. J. Willemsen and F. Mijwaart
The cremation took place on Tuesday December 29th at 14:30 in Westerveld.
The official report leaves no doubt: Louis Salomons could not have committed suicide. He was the victim of an ordinary traffic accident.
If Salomons was thinking of taking his own life, then coming from the station Naarden-Bussum he would have taken the route by way of the Colignylaan where the absence of stoplights made crossing the Rijksweg a truly risky venture.
Salomons well knew the local situation. For years he had stayed at the Van Vegte house when he visited The Netherlands. As he always did, he took the somewhat longer route by way of the Lambertus Hortensiuslaan to the Rijksweg crossing that had stoplights, so that a pedestrian could safely cross there. There he waited properly until the pedestrian light changed to green.
Then he crossed the road. To his left cars coming from Amsterdam waited for the green light. He was easily three quarters of the way across (at the time there was no traffic island), when he was overrun by a driver coming from the direction of Amersfoort who ignored a red light, and that was the end of the story.
Was the pedestrian so deep in thought that he didn’t notice the car? Or was the car hard to see, because the driver had not yet put on his lights at the end of the afternoon making the high speed at which he was approaching hard to estimate? The official report offers no definitive answer.
Perhaps the weather played a role. We know that it was close to sundown. Furthermore, the sun had scarcely shone that day. It was very cloudy and quite cold for the time of year with light to moderate frost. There was a biting wind. The accident occurred one hour before sunset. What is referred to as dusk, that time of day that all the color leaves the world and makes room for a vague gray. Possibly some fog made visibility even worse. We don’t know.
It may be that Salomons was still thinking about a telephone conversation he had had that morning with his ex-wife Cootje Opdam, and therefore didn’t see the impending disaster. Since their divorce in 1949 they had remained on good terms. He called her regularly and visited her often when he was in The Netherlands. She remarried in 1953. Her new husband was not the jealous type. The three of them had a friendly relationship.
This time he called her not to ask her how she was doing, but if she wanted to come back to him. She turned him down: she was married and she had two children, she couldn’t leave even if she had perhaps wanted to.
But perhaps Salomons was looking towards the street in order to protect himself from the biting wind. In any case, he never knew what happened.
That telephone call with Cootje, which one of her sons witnessed, fueled the suicide idea, but the green light theory contradicts it. Someone who wants to kill himself doesn’t wait for the green light before crossing the street.
Let’s assume that on that Thursday afternoon at 15:50 Salomons had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He paid with his life. He was 49 years old.
No piece of music is better suited to commemorate the passing of Louis Salomons than the bassoon concerto of Carl Maria von Weber. It was his favorite concerto which he had performed frequently with great success in Cuba, Mexico, and The Netherlands, for the last time on January 9th, 1970 in The Hague with the Residentie Orkest conducted by Willem van Otterloo. It must have been a memorable concert, people still talk about it.
Unfortunately he never recorded the piece. Therefore in his memory I offer a recording by another bassoon hero, Gwydion Brooke with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Sargent (rec. 31-12-1947)
Translation from the Dutch by Kathy Snelling
Sources: Archief Gooise Meren; Archief Amsterdam; residentieorkest.nl; Delpher; KNMI; Wegenforum.nl; met dank aan Ferdinande Struve en Peter Polak.