Obituaries – 05-30-2012

Willem Bartelsman
Willem Bartelsman, founder of the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra, died May 25 in Amsterdam.

He was born in Den Haag, Denmark, April 1, 1924, the son of conductor and composer Jan Christopher Bartelsman, and within a talented musical family.

Bartelsman first came to the United States in 1958 and was in marketing most of his life, but his passion was classical music. An oboe player, Bartelsman was frequently welcomed into orchestras all over the world during his travels for both work and pleasure.

After his retirement in the Netherlands, Barteslman spent two years in Spain before coming to Anna Maria Island in 1987, and commuted often to play in the Venice, Fla., orchestra.

That is where Bartelsman met Alfred Gershfeld, who became the first conductor of the AMICCO. Gershfeld had recently arrived from Russia and was living in Bradenton.

The two men became friends and began the difficult process of organizing a local orchestra, which was realized in 1992.

His wife of more than 60 years, Mathilda, often tried to slow her husband down in his retirement years, encouraging the AMICCO venture, but gently prodding her husband to take it easy. Bartelsman’s response was to sign his wife up as a chorus singer.

He often would skip family events if a call from the orchestra was expected.

AMICCO’s first performance was in 1993 with 41 chorus members and 24 orchestra members. Selections included Bach’s Cantata No. 84, Handel’s Organ Concerto, Opus IV No. 4 and Mass in G Major, No. 2, D 167 by Schubert.

AMICCO has been entertaining Islanders ever since.

Bartelsman is survived by his wife Mathilda and four children.

A celebration of life will be held at noon, Saturday, June 2, at Dienstencetrum Maarten Luther, Oeverpad 300, Amsterdam.

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One thought on “Obituaries – 05-30-2012

  1. Marsha Bard

    AMICCO is something this island is so very proud of…it is truly awesome for a small community like AMI to have such a first class outstanding Orchestra and Chorus.
    Willem Bartelsman and I arrived in Anna Maria in 1987. During the following years we had rumors of the formation of AMICCO and it was with a bit of skepticism that such a tiny island could support such a professional endeavor. I recall the first concert several years later….. it was amazing, beyond all expectation and has remained such through out these years. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Bartelsman, may he rest in peace… and to all of those who have continued to maintain his dream.


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