The highly gifted Dane Rudhyar can be
described from many angles. I once wrote him in relation to a lecture
he held on August 29, 1962, for "Het Open Veld" in Zeist,
The Netherlands, that people there thought of him as a 'phenonenon'.
He answered in one of the fifty personal letters I received from him:
"it amused me that you used the word 'phenomenon', for when I was
eighteen a man at the seashore in France (in the hotel where we all
stayed) used to call me 'phenomene' instead of my name. In French it
had a different meaning of course, a little like 'wonder boy' in the
USA today" (letter of Nov. 6, 1962).
I would like to highlight a small period
in the phenomenal life of Rudhyar: his contact with The Netherlands in
which I was instrumental myself. This resulted in his contact with
Carolus Verhulst, who met him here in 1962 and was then the publisher
of Servire who eventually published nine books for Rudhyar in English.
In those days I was a beginning
astro-psychologist of barely thirty. Thanks to our meetings in Los
Angeles in 1958, Rudhyar decided to visit me in The Netherlands during
his European trip in 1960.
Going through my notes about Rudhyar, I
remember a very hot afternoon in Hollywood in 1958. Walking along rows
of palmtrees, I enter the apartmentbuilding where I will meet the man
who is known as one of the most important American astrosophers. I
have his book: "THE ASTROLOGY OF PERSONALITY"
in my library at home in Holland.
Rudhyar is standing at the top of the
staircase, a slightly bowed man with finely cut features and a dark
beard. The conversation slowly gets under way. He often passes his
hand across his eyes: has some kind of chronic flu, he says, due to
the smog in Los Angeles, you can't live here anymore. "Should I
come back later?" I ask. No, it is good that he meets someone
from Europe again. And then suddenly he gets going. His hands join the
speech, his eyes light up, the weary features turn into small wrinkles
that betray a mild humor and slowly a strong sociable human being
opens up who is highly sensitive to the contact and appreciation that
he lacks again and again or breaks off himself by impulse.
He expresses his disappointment about the
Hollywood mentality, about the lack of interest for his views. He
talks about music and Strawinsky, shows drawings, plays compositions
on tape, forgets his eye-problems and radiates suddenly an activity
and enthusiasm that changes this old and tired man like magic into a
fascinating young mind. He gestures with his hands, pulls on his beard,
philosophizes about Europe, then becomes sharp and exasperated about
all those women who have nothing but marital problems, but puts it
quickly back into perspective, apologizing to his unknown visitor.
Then he wonders again who he is, a man between two worlds, no
American, no European. Who cares about cosmology? Only money and sex
count. Is he ahead of his time? Or really escaping from reality?
Should he have stayed in Europe?
"But, Mr Rudhyar, where do you come
from? In Holland people think you are oriental." A brusque
gesture: "Oh, the past, that's long ago" then he is silent
and appears close to drowning again in his contact-fatigue. No, that's
wrong. "Where were you born, who are you? Please tell me about
your life." The room contains a tape-recorder, a recordplayer, a
few books in a small bookcase, some abstract drawings are pinned to
the wall. Everything speaks of a temporary stay.
"Yes", he says, as if reading
my mind, "I have all my possessions, my paintings and everything
in Santa Fe. There in New Mexico I have lived for years with my wife.
Interesting land, there are still Pueblo Indians. You should go there."
He shows me a large diamondshaped silver ring with green malachite on
"This is Indian". He looks
around. "Oh, I am only temporarily here, my second wife divorced
me in 1954, she preferred a man with a regular existence. Where I go
from here? Maybe to the flowering desert, or to Europe...." He
briefly grins. "after fifty years! Where I was born? No, not in
Asia, but in Paris. Old Europe and from a poor almost extinct lineage
as well." There is that gentle smile again sparkling through the
exquisite aristocratic features.
Suddenly he arouses compassion. This man
does not fit in here in Hollywood, he is too delicate. A castle along
the river Loire, something with an ancient past, a glorious
aristocratic roof over his head, where he can escape from the world
and philosophize over a new one. No, this man does not belong in this
Los Angeles of millions of cars, dust and noise. But where does he
belong. "Rudhyar is my pseudonym since I was 16 years old, when I
left my French past behind" and then he tells me about his
The man who calls himself Dane Rudhyar
was born on March 23, 1895 in Paris. He was a last precocious
offspring in an almost extinct lineage. At age 16 he already received
his baccalaureat in philosophy, studies law and writes his first book
about Claude Debussy. This, together with his during that same time
composed pianoworks, is published by Durand in 1913. Next he studies
at the Paris Conservatory, writes revolutionary articles about music
and dance, moves around in the Paris world of arts and is regarded
there as one of the vanguard youth. In the beginning of the 1st
worldwar he becomes secretary to the sculptor Rodin.
Then suddenly in the middle of the war he
cuts this career short. His passion for adventury awakens, he embarks
for the new world. He divorces himself from all ties with the past,
France is dead, and adopts a new oriental-sounding name.
As Dane Rudhyar he arrives in New York
where he is accorded an immediate enormous success since 1916. Pierre
Monteux conducts his compositions in the Metropolitan Opera in New
York. Rudhyar himself travels through America, Canada, with his then
ultra modern lectures about polytonal music. He writes books, articles,
about "THE REBIRTH OF HINDU MUSIC", the 12-tone system,
works for the Musical Quarterly, composes, wins the $1000 prize for
his symphonic poem "SOUL FIRE", plays at concerts himself,
works for movies in Hollywood. In the years after the war 1918-1922
the brilliant ideas of this young mysterious Oriental of barely 25
find eager acceptance in the new world. After age 30 his many-sided
genius becomes obvious, that will however also lead him to scattering
later. He starts to write more and more and gives courses about "LIBERATION
THROUGH SOUND" (1931), about philosophy, psychology with cosmic
overtones - in the 30s still totally unheard of.
Then suddenly, he makes the same move as
15 years earlier. He cuts off all ties with the music world and
retires with his first wife to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he writes
poems in these years and his wellknown books about astrology and
symbolism. Now he publishes his own magazine "Hamsa" for
spiritual awakening, translates books like by Bo Yin Ra, writes
regularly for the in those years very modern and outstanding
"American Astrology" under the capable direction of Paul
Clancy. Some symbolic poems and novels are published, like "WHITE
Then, in 1938, a new facet of his
possibilities suddenly reveals itself. He gets the impulse to paint
and becomes part of the Transcendental Painting Group, writes a book
about it. In this period he becomes involved in ideological trends
from which he tears himself away again in his well-known passionate
and drastic manner. The struggle of those years and the then
developing ideas are particularly reflected in his book: "MODERN
MAN'S CONFLICTS: THE CREATIVE CHALLENGE OF A GLOBAL SOCIETY",
published in 1949 by the Philosophical Library, New York.
In 1945 he marries for the second time,
with the daughter of a well-known Russian painter, and again he
overturns his activities completely. Together with the psychiatrist
Moreno, he organizes with his wife departments for psychodrama in Iowa
and California. He gives astro-psychological advice, returns to
composing as well, writes quintets. In 1954 his wife divorces him.
Since then till 1962 he only published articles in astrological
magazines and a series monthly "SEED"-booklets,
philosophical letter contemplations for his dwindling circle of
interested people in America.
We say good-bye with an "au revoir"
in Europe. And he really returns in 1959, after 50 years, for a short
visit to Paris and Switzerland. It looks then like Europe fires off
new arrows of energy at him. The continent of his youth that he
considered dying when he left it behind, turns out to be very much
alive spiritually. Back in the States he can't stand it there any
longer, returns in '62 for a visit to France, England, briefly gives a
lecture in The Netherlands where some of his books are being published
that are no longer printed in America: Servire published in 1962 and
1963 resp. "THE PULSE OF LIFE" and "ASTROLOGY OF
PERSONALITY" in English. And now, in April 1963, he comes again
from New York to the old world, where he will make new contacts and
will philosophize about his new worldvision.
It is impossible to summarize his ideas
in this short article. You will have to read his books yourself.
Rudhyar's thoughts circle like atoms around the nucleus, which he
formulates as the creative powers of the universe that summon a new
type of human beings in a new interpersonal relationship which will
change all social processes. He wants to evoke "a seed for
The possibility exists, he says, that
to-day's human being awakens to the potentiality (that comes as an
impulse from the cosmos, he says as Sun in Aries!) of the new moment,
the new day, that arises as a mysterious plus-element in each
relationship. Each contact, every relationship, arouses a new release
of possible power that will transform us. The particular lies in the
meeting, the interpersonal relationship. This brings him remarkably
close to the modern French existentialist-philosophers (very
interesting collective subconscious, he who broke off all ties as Dane
Rudhyar with the land of his birth till 1959).
Often the woman and her position are
involved in his thoughts. The woman as potential antipole in the
relationship. Especially in women, he sees the spiritual seed for a
new world that will arise from the catharsis, purification and part
destruction of the old world at the end of the cycle. Rudhyar often
speaks of cycli and a new order.
Astrologically our relationship was clear:
Rudhyar's Sun in de 3rd degree of Aries in the 3rd house is exactly
conjunct my Jupiter conjunct Uranus, both in the same 3rd degree of
Aries in my 3rd house (born August 20, 1927, Flushing, The Netherlands
- 27 degrees Sagittarius rising). It was of course meant to be that
his brilliant mind would find new encouragement through me as
instrument to get out of his publishing stalemate. Via Holland and my
contacts there would suddenly appear a new opening and a new impulse
for his publications in the 60s.
During his first visit to The Netherlands
and me in The Hague on January 9-11, 1960, I organized a meeting at
home where Rudhyar met Wim Koppejan for the first time, who was then
our only exponent of the degree symbols of the French Janduz and the
Sabian symbols of the American Marc E. Jones and Dane Rudhyar himself.
Young Niek Scheps was there as well, like
other well-known people. Rudhyar wrote later: "I do like The
Hague's feeling very much" and later back in America: "I do
miss Europe, particularly Paris and the little I met around you - and
But you are of course very European. I am
nowhere and nothing it seems and it is a very lonely business" (Sept.
In 1961 he comes by boat from America
back to Paris, where he spends the summer.
The next summer of '62 he sails again
from New York, gives a lecture in Zeist, The Netherlands, meets
Carolus Verhulst and visits us again in The Hague. He then asks me to
keep in touch with Servire and to organize a weekend for him next
spring. I manage to get the "Internationale School voor
Wijsbegeerte" in Amersfoort interested. Rudhyar travels by boat
and train back to California again in the meantime. He is close to 68
now and complains in his letters about noise, cold, constant
overfatigue, having problems with light and his ophthalmologist since
he has serious eye-problems.
In April 1963 he sails with the s.s.
"Maasdam" back to Europe again and lands in Rotterdam. He
rests for a day in The Hague and then we travel together to the
Amersfoort school, where a couple of admirers are already waiting for
him. It is an intensive weekend. His subject is: "The emergence
of a global society" and his three lectures are: "The
Historical Situation", "The Psychological Transformation"
and "The Planet as a 'Field' of interdependent structured
activities and Man's function in it". (He later wrote me how
happy he was to receive fl. 300,- for this entire weekend!) Now,
thirty years later, these are well-known words and concepts, but at
that time in 1963, most of it was new for this Dutch audience. Rudhyar
has always been ahead of his time and often was not understood. This
would be his last trip to Holland and as far as I know also his last
trip to Europe.
In the summer of 1963 he married his
third wife Tana. This started, with her help, his one but last long
period of writing and publication for the U.S.A. His last creative
period started when he married Leyla Rael at age 79 in 1976, who has
assisted him till the end with his publications.
After my husband Willem Koppejan died in
1979, Rudhyar kept stimulating me to publish our work on the
degree-images in English. Unfortunately he did not live to see the
publication of "Zodiac Image Handbook" (Element Books, UK
1990) or "Beeldgids" (Kluwer, 1990).
Does Rudhyar have anything to tell us in
Europe with all this, as a human being who has lived between two
continents which possibly splintered him? Are we more profound than he
is, or does he even now remain the man of the revolutionary new
impulse? Whatever the case may be, as pioneer and genius with a
glorious past, he is still worth it today as human personality to be
met through the cassettes of his lectures and his books. He may bring
us a seed of vision for a new human being as well. Like the author
Claude Bragdon says about him:
"Rudhyar is a man of
profound and penetrating vision,
whose writings cast an
illumination upon life."
Helene W. Koppejan-van Woelderen,