Listen to this song, performed by Mieke Stemerdink en Suze van Grootel
Little sister writes a letter to her older sister. Life has been miserable since she left home. What could be the matter? Big sister writes back a sad letter. Rejected by her family, she has ended up a prostitute.
Letter and answer are part of a cycle of nine songs set to a single melody, written and composed in 1916 by Armand Haagman. The great sadness from the opening verses remains undiminished in the later verses: the older sister ultimately dies of consumption and is buried by a sad group of mourners.
This song was the inspiration for many new ones, most of which dealt with social injustice or other unhappiness. Incidental political complaints have also been written to this melody.
'Zusje' became known as a recording by Stella Fontaine (1919). In 1963, Willeke Alberti and Corry Brokken recorded it with a slightly different melody.