The Van Gelder Family:
A Lasting Musical Tradition
The Van Gelder family has a long and interesting musical history. My grandfather Louis (b.1895), along with his brothers and sisters, received a solid music education beginning at an early age. In no time at all, they were performing parlor concerts for family and neighbors in their hometown, Jersey City, New Jersey. Louis, now a seasoned cornet player, would join the Naval band during World War I, often sharing a stage with the legendary John Phillip Sousa. His younger twin brothers, Rudy and Leon, also had successful careers as professional musicians, performing throughout the United States in various ensembles.
Following the war, Louis began both a career in retail and a family. His two sons, Rudy and Leon (my uncle and father), found themselves in the same position as many other Americans, moving around a great deal during the Depression. Eventually settling in Hackensack, New Jersey, both boys began building what would become the foundation of life long interests in sound and film.
Leon was a founding member of the Bergen County Film Society and usually held screenings in their Hackensack home before establishing himself as a premiere independent auto parts retailer for over forty years. Rudy, upon graduating from college, would become an optometrist before realizing his true calling as a recording engineer. Beginning humbly in his parent’s living room, Rudy established himself as one of the world’s foremost recording engineers for Blue Note Records.
Continuing in the Van Gelder tradition, my brother Todd and I also forged passionate interests in music at young ages. Todd began playing drums at 6 and I developed an interest in the bass guitar as a teenager. We played together in a number of bands throughout the 1970’s; always with our parent’s unwavering support. We both went on to study music in college, further solidifying our love for the profession and the industry.
Today, I still freelance as a bassist, guitarist, and vocalist while my brother Todd continues performing in the D. C. metro area. In 1994, after many years in retail management, I opened Van Gelder Music Center in order to provide the highest level of service and sales in the Hudson Valley. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be so intricately involved with and connected to so many aspects of the music world.