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.
Louis Andriessen, born in Utrecht in 1939 the son of composer Hendrik Andriessen, is widely regarded as the leading Dutch composer of the contemporary era who was a central figure in the international new music scene. From a background of jazz and avant-garde composition, Andriessen evolved a style employing elemental harmonic, melodic and rhythmic materials, heard in totally distinctive instrumentation, often referencing Stravinsky as his model. His range of inspiration was 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.
Andriessen’s compositions attracted many leading exponents of contemporary music, including the two Dutch groups named after his works De Volharding and Hoketus. Other eminent ensembles who commissioned or performed his works include Asko|Schoenberg, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, London Sinfonietta, and the Bang on a Can All Stars. A wide selection of his music is recorded on the Nonesuch label.
Collaborative cross-discipline works included the theatre piece De Materie, created with Robert Wilson for the Netherlands Opera; 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); and collaborations with filmmaker Hal Hartley, including The New Math(s) and La Commedia, an operatic setting of Dante. He has collaborated with musicians who have pushed the boundaries of performance style, including electric violinist Monica Germino and singers Cristina Zavalloni and Nora Fischer.
Recent commissions included Mysteriën, premiered by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, Agamemnon for the New York Philharmonic under Jaap van Zweden, the opera Theatre of the World which received first performances in Los Angeles and Amsterdam, and The only one for Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen. His final work was May, for choir and orchestra, a tribute to Frans Brüggen which set texts from the classic Dutch impressionist poem by Herman Gorter and was premiered in the NTR ZaterdagMatinee series at the Concertgebouw in December 2020.
Louis Andriessen held the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall, and was awarded Composer of the Year Award by Musical America in 2010. He won the 2011 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his opera La Commedia and in 2016 was awarded the Kravis Prize for New Music.
Read more about Louis Andriessen at:
Watch a video of Andriessen talking about his music: