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Louis Andriessen

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Louis Andriessen

Biography

Louis Andriessen (b. 6 June 1939, Utrecht, Holland – 1 July 2021, Weesp, North Holland) was a Dutch composer and educator.

Andriessen's father Hendrik and his brother Juliaan were early influences on his composition. He attended the Royal Conservatory of the Hague, studying with Kees van Baaren, and then studied with Luciano Berio in Berlin and Milan.

He was a professor at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague starting in 1973 and performed piano regularly. He served as guest lecturer in the United States at Yale University (1987), State University of New York at Buffalo (1989), and at Princeton University (1996).

Mr. Andriessen founded the ensemble Orkest de Volharding in Amsterdam in 1972, with which he remained associated, and later founded the amplified ensemble Hoketus in Amsterdam in 1976, which disbanded in 1986. He wrote numerous articles, most of which appear in The Art of Stealing Time (2003, edited by Mirjam Zegers, translated by Clare Yates), and co-wrote with Elmer Schönberger the book Het Apollinisch Uurwerk (1982, translated by Jeff Hamburg as The Apollonian Clockwork, Oxford University Press), a study of Igor Stravinsky. He is furthermore the subject of the book The Music of Louis Andriessen by Maja Trochimczyk, and an examination of De Staat by Robert Adlington appeared in the series Landmarks in Music since 1950 (2004, Ashgate Publishing). In addition, he served as artistic director of the Meltdown Festival in London in 1994 and directed the annual International Young Composers Meeting in Apeldoorn.

Celebrated for his eclecticism, Andriessen devised his own bold brand of minimalist-influenced music. He embraced the pulsating repetitions of his contemporaries Philip Glass and Steve Reich, but also wove elements derived from Igor Stravinsky's music, big band jazz, popular styles and the rigid tenets of serialism into his compositions.

Andriessen early on asserted connections between music and politics. In his radical younger days, he backed up his thoughts and words with action. In 1969, Andriessen and other musicians disrupted a symphony concert at Amsterdam's storied Concertgebouw music hall, protesting what they viewed as a temple to the elite class and the moribund state of music programming. Thereafter, Andriessen shunned the idea of the symphony orchestra playing a role in his music.

Performers of Andriessen’s work include Bang on a Can, the BBC Symphony, the Boston Musica Viva, the Ensemble Sospeso, the London Sinfonietta, the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, the Netherlands Opera, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, the New World Symphony, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Tokyo Symphony.

Among his honours are the selected work at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris (1977, for De Staat), the Matthijs Vermeulen Prijs (1977, for De Staat; 1992, for De Materie), the 3M Music Award (1993), the Edison Award (1993, for the recording of De Tijd), and the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition (2011, for La Commedia).


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