Louis Andriessen obituary | Classical tunes

The composer and teacher Louis Andriessen, who has died aged 82, was commonly acknowledged as the most essential resourceful drive to arise from the Netherlands in the second fifty percent of the 20th century. This was thanks to the originality and high-quality of these compositions as De Staat (1976), Hoketus (1977) and the opera Producing to Vermeer (1999), but also his engagement in political functions that aided provide about democratic variations in the organisation of Dutch tradition. Andriessen was a famous instructor of composition and experienced a all over the world impact on more youthful composers.

In the 1960s and 70s, the Netherlands was usually looked on with envy by these from other countries as the best area to be if you ended up a composer, or a performer or a listener, who considered that the audio of living artists need to be at the centre of a nation’s cultural everyday living.

However the visual appearance of engagingly open-minded attitudes all too very easily ascribable to the character of the Dutch mentality – far more possible, say, to undertaking across barriers between the classical and the preferred – could verify misleading. Very well into the submit-1945 period of time the Netherlands experienced extra symphony orchestras per million of populace than any other country, most of them supplying a incredibly conventional repertoire.

It was versus this cultural heritage that the era of Dutch composers rising for the duration of the 60s, with Andriessen popular among them, created a reputation for remaining younger firebrands. In 1969 arrived the premiere of an opera entitled Reconstructie (Reconstruction) that was a collaborative act involving numerous composers including Reinbert de Leeuw (later on effectively-identified as a conductor) and Peter Schat, as very well as Andriessen himself.

The radicalism of these musicians is now most routinely recalled by way of a protest – at a concert on 17 November 1969 in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw concert hall by the hall’s own venerable orchestra, done by Bernard Haitink – that claimed that the Concertgebouw Orchestra was “a status-image of the ruling elite in our society”. Musically, Andriessen and his colleagues sought greater engagement with present-day popular new music, primarily with jazz and free of charge improvisation, as very well as with the musical minimalism rising from the US.

A person consequence of Andriessen’s avowedly Marxist stance at this time was his rejection of the symphony orchestra. “At the time,” the composer spelled out, “we said really radical factors, like orchestras are only vital for the capitalists and the record companies. But there was also a musical reason. I was searching for an additional sound, a audio which had to do each with jazz and the classical avant garde.”

He accordingly favoured smaller sized ensembles independently customized to the sort of music he needed to create, modelled on the teams established up by American minimalists this sort of as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. His involvement in a grass-roots organisation called the Movement for the Renewal of Musical Exercise, established up in March 1970, aided to deliver about additional democratic attitudes to the funding provided to musical ensembles in the Netherlands.

To the stop of his life, Andriessen designed peace with the symphony orchestra, and the planet that it enshrined, sufficiently to accept a commission from the Concertgebouw Orchestra: Mysteriën (Mysteries, 2013), his first orchestral work in 45 years, was encouraged by the 16th-century author Thomas à Kempis.

This go upset some of the composer’s most ardent champions, but it is popular for revolutionaries to appear to come all-around to the institution position they had turned down in their youth. And in any situation, Andriessen’s have compositional solution had turn into the dominant one particular in his place.

Born in Utrecht, the son of Johanna (nee Anschütz), a pianist, and Hendrick Andriessen, he grew up in a household of composers, which include his father, who had been on their own steeped in the conservative, French-affected Dutch compositional custom of the initially half of the 20th century.

Pursuing his early coaching at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, Louis analyzed with the avant-garde Italian composer Luciano Berio for two several years, in Milan and Berlin. It was not, having said that, until eventually he experienced shaken off most of these influences and begun to obtain himself as a composer by placing his music at the provider of his freshly acquired Marxist situation that Andriessen started out to write the performs for which he is greatest known.

Two groups founded by him proved exceptional retailers. One particular, De Volharding (Perseverance), performed the two in road demonstrations and in concert halls. Andriessen’s De Staat (The Republic), which employs texts from Plato’s Republic to make overtly Marxist factors about how and why music is created and consumed, deploying a raunchy mixture of voices and an ensemble in which brass instruments and electric powered guitars element prominently, is normal of his compositions for this outfit.

The other team, Hoketus, was named immediately after the medieval musical approach of dividing a melody among two rapidly alternating areas. The piece itself entitled Hoketus, with its idiosyncratic use of pan pipes, is an exceptional example of the fashion he adopted for this college student-primarily based band at The Hague to play.

Performance of Hoketus by Louis Andriessen

By now, Andriessen was previously turning out to be a commonly highly regarded instructor his international affect on composers, equally in the Netherlands and further more afield – including British figures these kinds of as Richard Ayres and Steve Martland, and the American composers of the Bang on a Can team – would soon adhere to.

Andriessen’s type in the 70s and 80s continued to choose the tonal, really repetitive strategy being practised by Reich, Glass and lots of other people and gave it a fresh new edge, with greater dissonance and a extra strident instrumental audio. For De Stijl (1985) – its title referencing the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, whose rigid abstract types blended with an unlikely enthusiasm for boogie-woogie are both equally created into Andriessen’s piece – his two ensembles were mixed into what the composer termed “th
e terrifying 21st-century orchestra”.

In De Materie (Make any difference, 1984-89), which involved De Stijl as the 3rd of its 4 sections, Andriessen topped off his then present-day method to amazing influence in a do the job that was at first staged by the American designer-director Robert Wilson as a new music-theatre piece.

In the 90s, though he also done a important concert perform, Trilogy of the Previous Working day (1997), Andriessen adopted up the logic of the go created with Wilson’s enter by composing operas, like several for Netherlands Opera, as well as other kinds of theatrical projects in his last a few a long time, his design both mellowed and significantly expanded in its stylistic variety. Two operas – Rosa: The Death of a Composer (1994) and Creating to Vermeer (1999) – were collaborations with the British movie director Peter Greenaway.

His subsequent operas contain La Commedia (2008), based mostly on Dante, which was a collaboration with the American movie maker Hal Hartley for this he gained the Grawemeyer award for songs composition.

Andriessen also continued to compose for the concert corridor, such as La Girò for violin and massive ensemble (2011). His past opera, Theatre of the World, given its premiere in 2016, was conceived with the German writer Helmut Krausser and is based close to the 17th-century polymath Athanasius Kircher. His final composition, Might for chorus and orchestra (2019), was penned as a tribute to the Dutch recorder player and conductor Frans Brüggen, who died in 2014 it was premiered very last December.

Andriessen married Jeanette Yanikian in 1996 she died in 2008. In 2012 he married the violinist Monica Germino, for whom he wrote numerous is effective. She survives him.

Louis Andriessen, composer, born 6 June 1939 died 1 July 2021

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