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 'phenomenon'. 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 palm trees, I enter the apartment building 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 Stravinsky, 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 record player, 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 diamond shaped silver ring with green malachite on his finger. "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 adventurous life:
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 baccalaureate in philosophy, studies law and writes his first book about Claude Debussy. This, together with his during that same time composed piano works, 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 world war he becomes secretary to the sculptor Rodin.
Then suddenly in the middle of the war he cuts this career short. His passion for adventure 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 well known 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 Thunder".
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 world vision.
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 greater living".
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 you! But you are of course very European. I am nowhere and nothing it seems and it is a very lonely business" (Sept. 16, 1960).
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 over fatigue, 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:
Copyright 1996 Drs Helene W. Koppejan-van Woelderen
Zebulon Hove, 55 Hillhead
Glastonbury, BA6 8AW
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