Thijs Van Leer
is a Dutch
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...
musician, singer and composer, best known for heading the Dutch progressive rock
Progressive rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a "mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility." John Covach, in Contemporary Music Review, says that many thought it would not just "succeed the pop of...
Focus is a Dutch rock band which was founded by classically trained organist/flautist Thijs van Leer in 1969, and is most famous for the instrumental pieces "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia"...
, as primary vocalist, Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...
player, and flautist
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...
. He also yodels and whistle
Human whistling is the production of sound by means of carefully controlling a stream of air flowing through a small hole. Whistling can be achieved by creating a small opening with one's lips and then blowing or sucking air through the hole...
s. In his later years, Van Leer went on to release many solo albums which were also classical music and jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...
Van Leer was born in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...
, and received his first flute at the age of eleven from his father, a classical flautist. He studied History of Art at Amsterdam University; after when he began studying flute and composition at the Amsterdam Conservatorium. He received a degree for flute from Geneva Conservatoire and also studied piano, orchestration
Orchestration is the study or practice of writing music for an orchestra or of adapting for orchestra music composed for another medium...
(with Rogier van Otterloo
Willem Rogier van Otterloo was a Dutch composer and conductor.-Biography:Van Otterloo was the eldest son of the conductor Willem van Otterloo. He composed several soundtracks for Dutch films and in 1980 became conductor of the Metropole Orkest for jazz music in Amsterdam...
) and organ (with Anthon van der Horst).
While still at school, van Leer led a jazz group on piano. He went on to play the flute and sing with the Shaffy cabaret group. In 1969 he joined Martijn Dresden (bass) and Hans Cleuver (drums) to form a trio that covered songs by Traffic
Traffic were an English rock band whose members came from the West Midlands. The group formed in April 1967 by Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason...
and backed other Dutch musicians, as well as playing their own material. Later in the year guitarist Jan Akkerman
Jan Akkerman is a Dutch guitarist. Akkerman is a distinctive guitarist, constantly experimenting with new equipment and guitars. Akkerman's distinctive guitar sound is characterised by his pioneering use of volume swells which produce a smooth, fluty, sustained tone, and other complex techniques...
joined, completing the initial line-up of Focus. They released several albums in the early 1970s.
Van Leer headed Focus through several line-up changes, and by 1977 he was the only remaining original member. The group disbanded in 1978. Van Leer also worked and toured with Spanish singer Miguel Ríos
Miguel Ríos is a Spanish singer, composer, actor. He is one of the pioneers of rock and roll in Spain.-Biography:...
, playing keyboards and flute, and appearing on three of Ríos' albums: Extraños en el escaparate
(Strangers in the Shopwindow, 1981), Rock & Ríos
(1982; double album), and El rock de una noche de verano
(Midsummer Night's Rock, 1983). In 1985, van Leer briefly reunited with Akkerman to make Focus 1985. In 2002, van Leer created a new Focus line-up, which has since released the albums Focus 8
and Focus 9 / New Skin
. A British tour was undertaken in spring 2006.
He also appeared as a guest musician on the album, Into the Electric Castle
Into the Electric Castle is a progressive metal two-disc album released in 1998 by Dutch multi-instrumentalist Arjen A. Lucassen. It is the third album of his Ayreon project....
, by Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Arjen Anthony "Oswold Jr." Lucassen is a progressive metal/rock composer, singer and musician from the Netherlands, best known for his long-running progressive opera project titled Ayreon....
's musical project Ayreon
Ayreon is a project by Dutch composer and musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen.Ayreon's musical style derives mostly from heavy metal and progressive rock, but combines them with genres like folk, classical and electronica...
In 2008 Explore Multimedia released van Leer's first solo album in nearly a decade, The Home Concert
. The album featured recordings made in his living room as he played material for Focus 9
. The album is exclusively available via the Internet, and at concerts.
Van Leer has also experimented with sacred vocal music.
- Focus Plays Focus (aka In and Out of Focus)(January 1971)
- Focus II (aka Moving Waves) (October 1971)
- Focus 3 (November 1972)
- At the Rainbow
At the Rainbow is a 1973 live album by the band Focus. A studio album was initially slated for release, but it was shelved due to disagreements within the band. At the Rainbow was released instead...
- Hamburger Concerto
Hamburger Concerto, is the fourth studio album by the band Focus, released in 1974, and peaking at #20 in the UK charts. Based on the first Brahms variation on a theme by Haydn which was, itself, premiered in Hamburg.-Side one:...
- Mother Focus
Mother Focus is the fifth studio album by the band Focus, released in 1975. The album marks a departure from the progressive rock style that dominated the band's prior work, to a poppier, often disco influenced direction.- Side one :...
- Ship of Memories (September 1977)
- Focus con Proby (January 1978)
- Focus (August 1985)
- Focus 8 (January 2003)
- Focus Masters From The Vaults Classic Rock Productions CRP1112 (2004)
- Live at the BBC 1976 (May 2004)
- Focus 9 / New Skin (September 2006)
- 1973 Introspection
-Track listing:Side one# "Pavanne" – 5-46# "Rondo" 3-02# "Agnus Dei" – 4-57# "Focus I" – 4-05Side two# "Erbarme Dich" – 7-22# "Focus II" – 4-18# "Introspection" – 5-25...
- 1975 O My Love
- 1976 Introspection 2
- 1977 Nice to Have Met You
- 1978 Introspection 3
- 1980 Introspection 4
- 1981 Reflections
- 1986 Renaissance
- 1987 I Hate Myself (For Loving You)
I Hate Myself is the ninth album by Thijs van Leer, published under the name 'van Leer'.-Track listing:# I Hate Myself 4: 43# My Inspiration 4: 37# I Think Of You 5: 56# Tempted 4: 09# Too Good To Be True 4: 20...
- 1992 Introspection 92 (Posthumous tribute to Rogier van Otterloo)
- 1994 Musical Melody
- 1996 Bolero (CD version of the Reflections album with two extra tracks)
- 1996 Summertime
- 1997 Instrumental Hymns
- 1999 The Glorious Album
- 1999 Bach For A New Age
- 2000 12 Mooiste Liederen (re-release of The Glorious Album under the name of Jan Mulder, piano)
- 2006 Etudes Sans Gêne (limited edition DVD
A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....
- 2008 The Home Concert
Thomas Blug Band
- 2005 Guitar From The Heart/Live (DVD)
- 2005 Guitar From The Heart - Live in Raalte, NL
- 2009 Soul & Pepper