MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

In Memoriam Louis Andriessen

Louis Andriessen has died at the age of 82. His publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, announced the death this morning of the eminent Dutch composer:

Boosey & Hawkes is sad to announce the death of Louis Andriessen, one of the most original and influential composers of the contemporary era. He died this morning (1 July) in De Hogeweyk dementia village in Weesp, near Amsterdam, aged 82. Andriessen leaves behind a corpus of remarkable music including the ensemble work De Staat and the opera Writing to Vermeer. A generation of younger composers were taught by him or were indebted to his unique fusion of jazz and minimalist styles.

from NPR:

Andriessen wrote in a wide range of idioms, including orchestra and chamber works, songs, choral pieces, music for brass band and solo works for piano, bassoon, organ, harpsichord, violin, oboe, percussion and trumpet. Perhaps most visible were his collaborative theatre works and operas, which adapted an eclectic array of texts. For De Materie, a genre-resistant theater work created with Robert Wilson for the Netherlands Opera, Andriessen incorporates documents pertaining to 17th-century shipbuilding, a decree on Dutch independence from Spain, the diary of Marie Curie and the straight-lined art of painter Piet Mondrian. Near the work’s end, as staged in 2016 at New York’s Park Avenue Armory, a flock of 100 sheep joined the cast.

On The only one, the world premiere of which Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted with the LA Philharmonic in May 2019:

Two artistic discoveries influenced Andriessen as he wrote The only one. The first was a collection of poems by the Flemish poet Delphine Lecompte from The animals in me. “These witty, intelligent, experimental, and sometimes scabrous poems immediately fascinated me. My focus turned to faraway America, with its great tradition of songwriting,” he says.

His second discovery was the work of Nora Fischer, an Amsterdam–based singer known for developing dynamic creative projects that fuse classical and pop music. Andriessen says, “The depth of her versatility has strongly influenced the musical language of the piece.” He further explains that “the piece flirts a bit with certain kinds of pop songs and light music, and starts out with a beautiful song.”

“Andriessen used bits of old music, an allusion to the Dies Irae motif and some Minimalism, a jazz riff here and a Mexican brass allusion there, as he often has,” says the Los Angeles Times. “But he always remakes it into a complex and powerfully blatant new thing, and here edge-of-your-seat operatically so.”

Andriessen’s final work was May for choir and orchestra, a tribute to Frans Bruggen setting texts from the Dutch impressionist poem by Herman Gorter and premiered at the Concertgebouw in December 2020:

Filed under: Louis Andriessen, music news


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