In Memoriam Leo de Klerk (1958-2020)

Appeared in De Nieuwe Muze | Paul Janssen

The name Leo de Klerk won’t ring a bell for the average concertgoer, but for musicians, recording technicians, concert halls, and CD companies, Leo de Klerk was known as one of the most innovative “Tonmeister” of the last several decades. On September 9, 2020, the man behind Bloomline Studio and the revolutionary Omniwave loudspeaker system died, aged 62. He remained as stubborn and unyielding as always, but the demolishing effects of COPD won in the end.


Passion

Leo was a mulI-facetted man, with music and audio reproduction as a constant interest. He studied composition and piano at Rotterdam Conservatory and graduated cum laude in the Art of Sound from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. While he remained active as a composer and pianist (among other things, LaIn Touch, the Splinter Theatre Troupe, and Salsa d’Amsterdam), his greatest passion was sound and its purest reproduction.


Secret force

And so, he launched his Bloomline Studio in 1981, with the goal of achieving the best possible audio recording and reproduction for any situation and circumstance.


“To locate the instrument, not the loudspeaker” was his quest, which resulted in numerous patents and the “inaudible loudspeaker”, the Omniwave. “Whether you’re standing in the kitchen or right between the speakers, the experience in the same” was De Klerk’s summary of its effect. Many opera houses and theaters embraced this sound system, and Omniwave is the secret behind the audiences’ sensation of being transported by the music, wherever their seat.


Additionally, De Klerk developed into the perfect producer and recording technician. As both a musician and a critical listener, he knew precisely how he wanted the sound on the CD to be. Many CDs and many recording labels have De Klerk’s knowledge and experience to thank for their international awards.

CD-label For the last ten years, he produced a CD label with Bloomline Studio. Most notably with concert pianist Marietta Petkova, his loyal life partner for the past decade, who put her career on the back burner in order to care for him until his last breath, Leo created a CD catalogue the likes of which have never been seen. Or, rather, heard. It ranges from Affe4uoso (2010) with piano concertos by Chopin and Schumann, to the celebrated Feux d’ar8fice (2019) with Debussy’s Préludes, and several award-winning titles in between. As equal partners in sound, they built an oeuvre offering brilliant new audio recordings as well as perfectly restored older works, such as Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concert from 1993.


Leo de Klerk lives on not only in these and many other CDs but also through his revolutionary Omniwave loudspeaker system, which has the potential to turn any living room into a fine concert hall.

- Paul Janssen

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