Sonatina camp has a deep history. In 1969, Rosamond and Rein van der Linde [1929-1996] searched for a summer piano camp for their children but could not find one. Summer Sonatina began when they decided to create a camp of their own.
The first Summer Sonatina camps were held in the 12-room van der Linde home in North Bennington, Vermont. The camp soon grew to 10 boarders. The van der Lindes bought more pianos, squeezing them into the basement next to the washer and dryer, perching them in the attic, stuffing them into the garage and, in fact, anywhere they could find a place! Music seemed to flow from the rafters.
The van der Lindes moved to a large gray mansion in Old Bennington in 1978 just in time for Opus 9 (the ninth season). The Sonata/Summer Sonatina's new home, which is on the National Register of Historic Buildings, was built in 1895 by Admiral W. L. Field on two beautiful acres with views of the mountains. The Old First Church, the Bennington Museum, the Walloomsac Inn and the Bennington Battle Monument are the closest of local historic sites, all within easy walking distance.
By then, enthusiastic parents of Summer Sonatina campers practically begged for a program of their own — a place where they could immerse themselves in piano study and benefit from great camaraderie with other just-as-full-of-passion-for-piano adult participants. Winter Sonata began in 1979. Other Sonata programs have been added over the years to accommodate the ever-increasing number of eager participants.
In 1991, the directorship of the Sonatas and Summer Sonatina was handed over to Polly, the eldest van der Linde daughter. The Sonata/Summer Sonatina faculty has continued to support an extended family atmosphere — pianists gathered together and committed to carry on the musical tradition of the van der Linde family.
Noah Adams, a host on National Public Radio, attended the Autumn Sonata 1994. He subsequently wrote a book (much to our surprise!) on his experience learning the piano throughout the year. Autumn Sonata is featured in the chapter “October” of the book entitled “Piano Lessons: Music, Love and True Adventures.”
The September 2002 and August 2003 Sonatas were both portrayed in the media. Participant, Katie Hafner, wrote a piece which appeared in the December 22, 2002 Travel Section of the New York Times detailing the day-to-day activities of the Sonata. Then Beth Nissen and her filming crew observed the August 2003 Sonata for a day. Their work was featured on CNN’s NewsNight with Aaron Brown on August 29, 2003. In 2006, The Intermezzo Experience was introduced.
Summer Sonatina has appeared in Seventeen, Vermont Life, Stratton Magazine, Vermont Public Radio, WBTN, Bennington Banner, Times Union (Albany), and has aired on PM Magazine (WGY). In 1989 it was featured on Vermont Educational Television’s “Crossroads” and the April 2004 edition of Yankee Magazine included an article on Summer Sonatina. Various music magazines have also published articles on Sonata/Sonatina. Founder, Rosamond van der Linde, has written a memoir about the van der Linde family and Sonatina: A Piano in Every Room.
The mansion during summer. Photo courtesy of Netty
The Shed. Photo courtesy of Netty
Lesson time. Photo courtesy of David Billingsley
Kids at attention during a master class Photo courtesy of Netty
Duet concentration Photo courtesy of David Billingsley
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