The Netherlands: Composer Louis Andriessen has died at age 82


The Living Force
Source (Dutch only): Componist Louis Andriessen (82) overleden

NOS News - Culture & Media - today, 15:32 - Updated today, 15:50
Composer Louis Andriessen (82) deceased


Louis Andriessen
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Petra Steenhoff - editor online

Composer Louis Andriessen has died at the age of 82. He suffered from Alzheimer's disease and died in a nursing home in Weesp, according to the Volkskrant, which was the first to report his death [behind paywall].

Louis Andriessen is considered the most influential Dutch composer of his generation. He played an important role in the emergence of the Dutch ensemble culture and is considered one of the founders of the so-called Hague School (see blue insert below).

His compositions cover all musical genres, but he had a predilection for theater, literature, dance and film. He collaborated with the British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, among others.

In his compositions the emphasis was on complex chords, played on (many) wind instruments. String instruments he rarely used.

"What you're ultimately looking for is a new beauty," Andriessen himself said of his compositions. "It's not possible to explain exactly why something is so terribly beautiful. That's the secret of beauty and that's what you're working on all day."

The Hague School
Music of the Hague School is characterized as loud, aggressive, rhythmically energetic, averse to neo-romantic sentiment and often amplified or electronically manipulated. The first representatives of this movement, which began in the second half of the 20th century, were all associated with the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.

Andriessen grew up in Utrecht in a musical family. His father Hendrik and older brother Jurriaan also composed, his sisters played piano and flute. After training at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, he studied with Luciano Berio in Milan and in Berlin.

He opposed conservatism in the music world. Together with composer and pianist Reinbert de Leeuw, he was the initiator of the Aktie Notenkraker (Dutch only) [Notecracker Action] at the end of the 1960s, in which more appreciation was sought for modern classical music.

He also wrote political works such as Volkslied (National Anthem) and Workers Union.

Unconventional pieces

In the early 1970s, he was appointed teacher of instrumentation at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. A few years later he also became a composition teacher. In that period he also founded the ensembles De Volharding and Hoketus, which performed his unconventional pieces.

The minimalist composition De Staat marked his international breakthrough in the late 1970s. He wrote the piece as a contribution to the debate on the relationship between music and politics. For this work Andriessen received both the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize and the First Prize of the International Rostrum of Composers in 1977.

Video 10:31 min.
De Staat - The State (compilation)

In the 1980s he began to focus more and more on stage and film music and musical theater. Well-known works by Andriessen include the operas The Matter, Rosa and Writing to Vermeer.

The latter two arose from a collaboration with Peter Greenaway. Just like M is for Man, Music and Mozart, for which he was again awarded the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize in the early 1990s.

In 2008 he was appointed professor of Creative Arts at the University of Leiden. That same year he received the Johan Wagenaar Prize for his entire oeuvre, and the film opera La Commedia premiered at the Holland Festival. For this opera he was awarded the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition from the University of Louisville in 2011.

He received this American prize because with this work he crossed the traditional boundaries between musical genres and disciplines.

On the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, he wrote the work Mysteries in 2013. This buried, after decades, the hatchet between Andriessen and the orchestra that he had sharply criticized with the Notecracker Action.

Last December, his final composition was premiered: May. Andriessen was inspired by the poem 'Mei' by Herman Gorter. At the time it was also clear that this would be Andriessen's last work, because he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Video 11:18 min. Dutch spoken - no English subtitles - no transcript - no translation
Searching for a different beauty: Louis Andriessen

Translated with (free version)

Other coverage in Dutch:
Van Louis Andriessens oeuvre zal de muziekwereld nog lang naschokken


The Living Force
Source (Dutch only): Dood van componist Louis Andriessen is wereldnieuws

Death of composer Louis Andriessen is world news

ANP Productions - 1 hour ago

The death of composer Louis Andriessen is world news. "Louis Andriessen, who as a young iconoclast disrupted the Dutch classical music scene before becoming one of Europe's foremost postwar composers with a series of large-scale, often rash works, died Thursday in Weesp, Netherlands," reports The New York Times, for example.

The British newspaper The Guardian calls him "a major figure in new music for more than half a century." The BBC Music Magazine says he is considered one of the most influential composers of his generation. "He was a great advocate of contemporary music and once disrupted a concert by Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra to demand more contemporary music," the magazine further recalls.

Broadcaster Radio France's music channel, France Musique, says of the Dutchman, "He has shaken up, deconstructed and redesigned the codes for composing." And the Austrian newspaper Wiener Zeitung reports, "His opera La Commedia is seen as a milestone in the new musical theater."

Media in other countries also reported the death of the Dutch composer.

Translated with (free version)

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