Louis Andriessen

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Andriessen
composer

Andriessen was born in Utrecht in 1939 into a musical family: his father Hendrik, and his brother Juriaan were established composers in their own right. Andriessen studied with his father and Kees van Baaren at the Hague Conservatory, and between 1962 and 1964 undertook further studies in Milan and Berlin with Luciano Berio. Since 1974 he has combined teaching with his work as a composer and pianist. He is now widely regarded as the leading composer working in the Netherlands today and is a central figure in the international new music scene.

From a background of jazz and avant-garde composition, Andriessen has evolved a style employing elemental harmonic, melodic and rhythmic materials, heard in totally distinctive instrumentation. His acknowledged admiration for Stravinsky is illustrated by a parallel vigour, clarity of expression, and acute ear for colour. The range of Andriessen's inspiration is wide, from the music of Charles Ives in Anachronie I, the art of Mondriaan in De Stijl, and medieval poetic visions in Hadewijch, to writings on shipbuilding and atomic theory in De Materie Part I. He has tackled complex creative issues, exploring the relation between music and politics in De Staat, the nature of time and velocity in De Tijd and De Snelheid, and questions of mortality in Trilogy of the Last Day.

Andriessen's compositions have attracted many leading exponents of contemporary music, including the two Dutch groups named after his works De Volharding and Hoketus. Other eminent Dutch performers include the Schoenberg Ensemble, the ASKO Ensemble, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Schoenberg Quartet, pianists Gerard Bouwhuis and Cees van Zeeland, and conductors Reinbert de Leeuw and Edo de Waart. Groups outside the Netherlands who have commissioned or performed his works include the San Francisco Symphony, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble InterContemporain, Icebreaker, the Bang on a Can All Stars, and the California EAR Unit.

Collaborative works with other artists include a series of dance projects, the full length theatre piece De Materie created with Robert Wilson for the Netherlands Opera, and three works created with Peter Greenaway: the film M is for Man, Music, Mozart, and the stage works ROSA, Death of a Composer and Writing to Vermeer, premiered at the Netherlands Opera in 1994 and 1999 respectively. Recent collaborations with filmmaker Hal Hartley include The New Math(s), broadcast on TV and performed internationally including at the Barbican in London and the Bergen Festival. Nonesuch Records has released a series of recordings of Andriessen's major works, including the complete De Materie and ROSA, Death of a Composer.

Recent commissions include La Passione for the London Sinfonietta and Garden of Eros for the Arditti Quartet, premiered as part of a major festival of Andriessen's music at London's South Bank Centre in 2002. In May 2004 the Lincoln Center in New York presented the music of Louis Andriessen in a two week-long festival as part of its "Great Performers" series. In October 2004 the German ensemble MusikFabrik premiered Racconto dall'Inferno, the first part of a forthcoming large music-theatre work based on Dante.

Louis Andriessen is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

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Performances

Club Concert #1
Moonshine Room at Club Café | December 8, 2009
Fromm Players at Harvard
John Knowles Paine Hall at Harvard University | March 23, 2007
Fromm Players at Harvard
John Knowles Paine Hall at Harvard University | March 22, 2007
Trilogy of the Last Day
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | November 4, 2005

News and Press

[CD Review] Fanfare reviews Louis Andriessen: La Passione
The music of Louis Andriessen (b. 1939) becomes ever more fascinating as he grows older. A contemporary of Glass and Reich, he hit the big time in 1976 with De Staat, a wild, aggressive choral-instrumental minimalist masterpiece. Always an original ("I like the impossible, to put myself in a difficult situation. I see composing as an experiment."), he produced a few noisy loudnesses along the way. I remember a large-ensemble piece at Tanglewood with, I think, eight double-bass clarinets growling and clattering away.
Fanfare Full review
[News Coverage] Spinning Local: A batch of new CDs from BMOP
Meanwhile the city's other homegrown label, BMOP/sound, continues to impress. This scrappy in-house operation run by conductor Gil Rose and his Boston Modern Orchestra Project was launched early last year, and it has released a steady stream of impeccably produced, beautifully packaged discs with exacting and engaged performances of 20th- and 21st-century music. Several elegantly probing pieces by Brandeis-based composer David Rakowski were recently featured on a BMOP/sound disc called Winged Contraption, including his Piano Concerto in a strong performance by Marilyn Nonken.
The Boston Globe Full coverage
[Press Release] BMOP/sound releases Louis Andriessen: La Passione
BMOP/sound, the nation's foremost label launched by an orchestra and devoted exclusively to new music recordings, today announced the album release of Louis Andriessen: La Passione—one of several recognitions worldwide in honor of Andriessen's 70th birthday. A central figure in the international new music scene, Andriessen is best known for his propulsive rhythms, dissonant harmonies, and noisy, big-band sonorities, influenced by Stravinsky, jazz, and American minimalism.
Full release
[News Coverage] A record label of one's own
The news these days about the classical music recording industry is almost always bleak, so it's a pleasure to report a bright spot on that landscape: the Boston Modern Orchestra Project has finally launched its own record label called BMOP/sound.
The Boston Globe Full coverage
[Concert Review] Dulcimer, dances mark Fromm event
CAMBRIDGE -- Pull enough threads in American contemporary music of the last 50 years and you'll arrive at the Fromm Foundation, which has funded commissions from many of the 20th century's most distinguished composers. Paul Fromm (1906-1987) was an emigre who fled Nazi Germany and settled in this country, establishing a successful wine importing business in Chicago and, later, a foundation pledged "to restore to the composer his rightful position at the center of musical life."
The Boston Globe Full review