Tom Brand

28 September 1917 Wijlre – 6 October 1970 Eijs

Brand and Merriman

Tom Brand sings Mass in B Minor (Bach): Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini

When Tom Brand studied at the High School for Agriculture in Groningen, he lodged with a lawyer who loved classical music – and was enraptured when he heard his tenant sing Schubert for his own pleasure. He strongly advised him to study voice. But Brand did not listen, and opened a farm in Eijs, where he grew apples and pears.

Only years later, he recalled his former landlord's advice, and took singing lessons. He made his debut in 1950 as Max in an open-air performance in Monschau in nearby Germany, and from 1953, he sang at the Zuid-Nederlandse Opera in Maastricht for a few years: Manrico, Don José, Faust, Nadir, Sou-Chong. He even sang Don Ottavio in Stuttgart, but it was only a hobby, and his life was still mainly about apples and pears.

In 1955, he made two crucial decisions: to quit opera, and to quit apples. For the rest of his career, he was a concert and particularly an oratorio singer, his specialty being Bach. (He returned to the operatic stage but rarely: as Palestrina in Hannover in 1963, and in Stuttgart the same year in Gluck's Alceste.) In oratorio, he had considerable success, and beyond the Netherlands, he appeared in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

When his wife died in 1963, he found himself a single father of no less than ten children. In 1965, he married the renowned American mezzosoprano Nan Merriman, who gave up her career so as to care for Brand's children. Tom Brand died in 1970 from a sudden heart attack. Nan Merriman stayed in the Netherlands until Brand's children were grown up, then moved back to the US and never returned to Europe.

Reference 1: Dutch Divas; reference 2 and picture source

Go Home