This website was launched in September 2002. Here you will find the most interesting reactions this year.

Reactions 2002

"your website looks wonderful!!!! It's really a pleasure seeing something so beautiful on the internet..looking forward to the developments.."
Eleanore Pameijer, flautist, Amsterdam

"I liked the design of your website a lot.The original idea of the clock, both in your art and in your website is a wonderful one!"
Fernando Funes, musicologist, New York

"...Congratulations! What a beautiful website. Great intiative..."
Henri Broeren, Director Muziekcentrum, 's-Hertogenbosch

"with thanks for your spiritual website."
Maria Austria Institution, Amsterdam

"your website, which I have visited a few times. Short reaction: Terrific!"
Wim Duisenberg, Director European Central Bank, Frankfurt

"it looks great!"
Floris Guntenaar, Director Museum Depot, Amsterdam

"thanks for your European composition. It is an inventing idea to bring existing designs together."
Bob van den Bos, Member Europarliment D66, Strasbourg

"I have fully explored your website for my opera encyclopedia."
Eva Herrmannová, opery Národního, Prague

"your website is impressive.your music and vision is a beacon of light in this commercial world."
Jean-Marie van Bronkhorst, Amsterdam

"my compliments on your internet page. It looks fantastic and gives a complete idea of your past and present life."
Oliver van Kuyen, Walter Maas Huis, Bilthoven

"..interesting website..I will continue following its developments."
Marc Pesch, Residentie Orkest, The Hague

"just spent a wonderful hour surfing through your website.
Congratulations with this beautiful site.. spiritual, playful, moving, exciting, well, just like your music!"
Jeff Hamburg, composer, Amsterdam

"what a splendid idea that musical autobiography!"
Alida VanOvereem, Los Angeles, CA, USA

"...lovely site. Your hard work paid off."
Maarten Huygen, journalist, Amsterdam

Muziekgroep Nederland
Nederlands Muziek Instituut
Theater Instituut
Walter Maas Huis
Maria Austria Instituut

"Talk of fame, honor, pleasure, wealth, all are dirt compared with affection."
Charles Darwin




Here you will find the most interesting correspondents of this site, beginning with a letter to the New Yorker of 1 April 2002


Letter to

Referring to the essay on "Schoenberg's unfinished revolution"
Whistling in the dark by Alex Ross
Issue of 2002-02-18

Split the lark -
And whistle in the dark.

Split the lark-
And you will find the music.

Emily Dickinson

Though writing music is far more satisfying than writing about it, the latter can't always be avoided. Especially in the case of Arnold Schoenberg, who himself was an unstoppable writer on music and
on nearly everything else. He had a great urge to explain his music and his views to the world.
At the beginning of the last century he was, together with his most famous pupils Berg and Webern, the founder of what became known as the Second Viennese School.
A remarkable difference with the masters of the First Viennese School (Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven) however, was that they never wrote theoretical essays, or anything like it. On the ever-recurring question: 'Maestro, how do you compose?' they simply showed their scores, which indeed explain themselves - through their tonality. ('Symphony in C major', for example.)

But Schoenberg, no doubt, had a lot to explain. And I have, as a pupil of the French Schoenbergian Pierre Boulez in the early sixties, even more to explain..
"This music was intensely alienating to audiences early on, and it still has the power to send listeners scurrying for the exits", writes Alex Ross in his essay Whistling in the dark. "Of the century's modernist revolutions Schoenberg's invention of atonality was the most viscerally shocking. When you first encounter the sound of Schoenberg, you may feel yourself violently pushed back, as if a mass of ugliness were crystallizing in the air."
Half a century after the composer's death and nearly a century after our first historic encounter with atonal music (in Schoenberg's Second String quartet), this truth still holds.
We simply can't get used to it, let alone begin to love it - and love is the only way to bring music to life. Every professional musician has a great respect for Schoenberg, but in their heart of hearts, how many of them actually love his music? He seems to remain
a 'singularity' in the history of music.

Ross sums up the ever recurring reactions to Schoenberg's work. He describes how he recently heard his Suite for piano and came away the first time, "feeling as though I'd swallowed a bad oyster." And he quotes an elderly woman after she heard Moses und Aron: "I survived Auschwitz", she said, "I don't have to sit through this." (A particularly painful remark for a composer who survived the nazis.) A reader of the Los Angeles Times also used a political metaphor to express his anger: "Schoenberg's rejection of tonality is a profound act of egotism. Can't we please let it die in the twentieth century along with that other great affront to human nature - Communism?". "The reader had a point", Ross adds here, "Schoenberg's ideas are noxious in their grandiosity, chief among them the very idea of the 'dissolution of tonality'".

At some point or another in the seemingly unending Schoenberg discussion one word always turns up - badly understood however, even by composers, critics and other professionals. The word is: tonality. What could it mean? Many music lovers think that it simply means 'using major and minor triads'. It would therefore be helpful, even decisive, to first agree on a definition before we go on, though this is not easy.

Ross writes that Schoenberg's Harmonielehre from 1911 "was not so much on behalf of atonality as against tonality: the old order … was an artificial construct that had to die…He saw tonality exclusively as a journey away from and back toward a home key "Schoenberg hated the word atonal, though the rest of the world used it to describe his style - or even modern art as a whole.
He declared that his method was just 'a new kind of tonality', only characterized by the absence of conventional consonant chords. His lifelong battle cry was: "emancipation of the dissonant!". But in praxis it turned out to be the discrimination of the consonant.
And indeed, how could a style that includes discrimination ever be harmonious?
It therefore resulted soon in the negative tonality that became the plague of 20th century music. The bias of progress (Stephen Jay Gould) permitted every composer to write any arbitrary combination of notes, as long as he avoided the common chords.

After an initial period of 'free atonality' (the extreme expressionism of it sounded indeed like coming from "the laboratory of world destruction", as Karl Kraus described the turn-of-the-century Vienna) Schoenberg descended from the mountain of faith with the new law of dodecaphony:
"twelve notes only related to one another".
This epochal event took place right under the noses of his disciples, on Eastern Day, April 1, 1924. They trembled, as one of them (Max Deutz) testified at the opening of a Schoenberg exhibition in Amsterdam, in 1974.
Every composer was now supposed to choose, in great solitude, his own personal row of twelve different notes - with its inversion, retrograde, retrograde-inversion, and its permutations. Schoenberg learned this technique, he said, from the Dutch Schools of the late Middle Ages, transposing it from the diatonic to the chromatic realm. He thought dodecaphony thus could replace the old order of tonality, which had to die.
But it didn't, as we now know. Like in a dream you could split the lark, but it just went on singing the wrong notes. Pure magic. After a century cramped with death, tonality didn't die at all, neither in classical nor in popular music.
So the question remains: 'what is tonality?'

I think we could best agree on the definition of the French musicologist F.J. Fétis. He wrote, in 1844:
"Tonality is formed by the necessary relations, successive or simultaneous, of the notes of a scale."
Our question can then be specified to: what does 'necessary relations' mean in music?

Every music-lover knows the bliss of a harmonic resolution: one chord resolving into the next, in an all-round satisfying way. This phenomenon has been described as "the 'rightness' of the way the harmony moves through its changes" (McLeod).This 'rightness' is based on the sensitivity of the ear to recurring note-repetitions in too short a distance (the 'Tonwiederholungsempfindsamkeit' of the Viennese School). A sensitivity that is trained in the diatonic realm of old Palestrinian counterpoint. A note that comes back 'too early' can weaken, even destroy a melody. Like the untimely recurring of a word can destroy a phrase, or a poem. (A similar mechanism works in the domain of harmony and rhythm.)
This is what is pointed at with the 'necessary relations' of the Fétis-definition. It certainly isn't a call for academism - it means training. And music, more than any other art form, depends on training. (The art of composing is certainly not excluded from this necessity, though the dream of dilettantism wants you to believe. otherwise.)
Schoenbergian row-technique however, is not a musical but a bureaucratic training. It contradicts its own paradigm, as Theodor Adorno pointed out in an interesting letter to Ernst Krenek, from April 1929, five years after the almost ritual introduction of dodecaphony.
That's the real reason why it doesn't work, why it's "ugly" for the soul. And it is ugly, not "because life is like that", as Alex Ross writes with what I regard as a slip of the pen, but because the creator of it replaced a centuries old and deep tested musical praxis by number-manipulations. (Much as Allan Forte's bureaucratic set theory does, by the way.) He wanted a radical breach with history, and he got it. Like Lenin got his bloody breach.
Only after we've brainwashed, raped and violated our own musical souls can we agree here with Ross that "what appears ugly is actually beautiful". Yes, we can even feel heroic about that.
Using a political metaphor is always dangerous, because music is no politics. But we are, after an incubation time of three generations, finally entitled to say that dodecaphony, just as Leninism, is one of the great utopian catastrophes of the 20th century, and that Schoenberg is the Lenin of music.

This political metaphor however, remains unsatisfactory. Schoenberg wasn't a political animal after all, even if he wanted, in the heat of the war against the nazis, to sacrifice his musical carrier to become president of a new Jewish republic - no lack of ambition also here. But it wouldn't have worked. He was an archetypal artist: everything he touched turned into art. Religion, as a form of art, was no exception. So a religious metaphor for his biography would be more appropriate. The more so because he'd found one himself - for what had to become his (unfinished) masterpiece: Moses und Aron. He saw himself as the Moses of music, the messianic deliverer of Dodecaphony, of a new law to resurrect the old (chromatic) notes.

Arnold Schoenberg had grown up as a musical foundling - in his youth he never sought or found a father-composer to teach him the basics of his art, as the masters of the First Viennese School all did. He was an exponent of the fatherless century he was born in, and he remained an autodidact all his life. Instead he trained himself at the tonal court of pharaoh Gustav Mahler to become the brilliant young prince of both Verklärte Nacht and the Gurrelieder, as most people still prefer to remember him.
But this was not the music he eventually wanted to create, this was not his own voice. So he left the magnificently lush harmonic court of the pharaoh for the dessert of atonality, climbing the barren mountain of an unknown chromatic god, who showed him "visions of tonality" (Allen Shawn).
He came down, after nine years of desperate brooding, with the Tablets of the Twelve Commandments of Dodecaphony - the Constitution of a new Kingdom of Music. (This kind of creative process can only be described with capitals.)
But the fruits of the new laws were very disappointing, even to Schoenberg himself. More than once he declared his own music to be "ugly". In a famous quote he said: "Somebody had to be Schoenberg". But he never gave up his faith in an all- illuminating solution. Carl Dahlhaus writes:
'Schoenberg was convinced that a later theory would discover functional connections between the chords: "One day there will be a theory which abstracts rules from these compositions. Certainly, the structural evaluation of these sounds will again be based upon their functional potentialities."

Climbing his last mountain in the dessert of atonality, the tragic, biting, dear old Arnold Schoenberg was graciously given a glimpse of the promised land, the land he himself would never tread - a truly moving image. What he saw was the vision of the new chromatic tonality. Only a later generation (my generation) could enter, discover and explore that promised land.

This shiningly beautiful chromatic tonality can be adequately visualized as a diamond necklace for the goddess of music.
For the hardworking musician-explorer this is the map of
the newly discovered land.

I've called it THE TONE CLOCK..

It is the point of departure of all my work (and not only mine) since my First Symphony (1978), and it is the subject of my books and my website.
So it can be heard, examined and studied. Just like that old dear
C-major, and just as it should be.

My colleague Jenny McLeod from New Zealand described her first expedition to this new land in 1989:

"Even knowing nothing of the clock one can sense that this is the new tonality, that the music is permeated by some unknown but supreme logic and constancy: the harmonies have real substance, they move as a living tissue, worlds away from diatonic tonality, yet possessing the same authority and coherence… It belongs to all, and it can work for anyone. A vast and prodigious universe awaits us, and I, for one, am hailing it daily with shouts of jubilation."

map of chromatic tonality
map of chromatic tonality


Twelve small clock-faces combined into one large one.
Each successive point around the small clock-faces represents a chromatic semitone (with C generally at 'one o'clock').
The triangles are the triads.

This is the face of the Tone Clock.

It is a complete visual analogy which can be read accurately
in musical terms. It depicts the five dissonants, the seven consonants and the twelve triads of the chromatic scale in an all-encompassing, harmonious image.

Peter Schat
Amsterdam, 1 April 2002.




On the eleventh second of the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh millennium since the Ice Age (i.e. since the beginning of human civilisation,as we call it), six pairs of ones, twelve 'I's, stood in a row, and I suddenly discovered Atonism. I decided to write something about it, for the lovers of deepreading.
Eleven times three centuries ago (in all: a hundred Jesus-lives) the pharaoh Akhnaton created the sun-cult of Aton, the father-god, and by doing so he installed monotheism.
In its christian form, monotheism still dominates our culture, so a journey to the origin of it should be part of our education. I did so with my son and a few friends in 1986 and we visited the essential sites:
Until the voyage of the Beagle - to me the most important journey in world history (even more pioneering than those of Columbus to America, and of Apollo-XI to the moon, and the very beginning of the next millennium which will no doubt be darwinian) - until Darwin's discovery of life's evolution, Aton was no doubt the boldest concept of human spiritual history.
(Aton was the common Egyptian word for 'sun'.)
Nobody was able to see the face of the Omnipresent without being struck blind. It was impossible to create an image of it, and soon it was even prohibited to attempt this.
Yet we're all children of the sun.

But Galileo and the pioneers of the Enlightenment were bold enough to try and they played a masterful trick. By projecting the sun they found that the face of Aton was studded with spots - sunspots.

The sun, we now know, is an H-bomb with an explosion-term of some eleven billion years. The spots are swirling gates to this giga divine fire, they're blistering mouths, able to swallow complete planets and breathing the sunwinds - the deadly as well as life-giving radiation. Its magnetic climaxes, that can wipe out power stations and electronic communication systems on earth,
occur in a regular cycle of eleven years.


This cosmic sky-machine has begotten me by the unimaginably beautiful mother-planet I happen to live on, and has given me light and warmth like a truly godlike, reliable father.
(Born in His turn from grandfather Big Bang).
Akhnaton was perfectly right to worship the sun, and to write his famous Hymn:

O Aton, how beautiful is Your appearance
in the light palace of heaven;
Thou, who was the first to live.

As much later Saint Francis of Assisi sung, in his Canticle of Brother Sun, seventy sun cycles ago:

Brother Sun, who brings the day...
How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendour!

To worship this Brother I made a little altar of glass and a golden sphere. It is my direct hotline with the sun.
See also under the tenth Hour - DESIGN

We are accustomed to phase out our lifes by anniversaries, jubilee years and so on. We do that by fives and decimals, counting our fingers and toes. This is of course rather primitive and shortsighted. Therefore jubilees can be measured in a much better way: by sun cycles.

I'm anxious to know the position of sunspots at the time I was born, the expression of Aton's face at that moment.
And furthermore the magnetic climaxes, again and again, every eleven years. Thus I could obtain the picture of my Aton years, from bright ones to dark ones, and back again:

Since I was born in the cultural sphere of Christendom (without being a christian myself) I divide my life in three Jesus-lifes, each containing three suncycles: 33, 66,and 99 years.
Consequently, I just finished my second Jesus-life.
See also the AGENDA at this Hour.

I recently read that the fastest growing section of the population nowadays is that of the centenarians, those who have begun their fourth Jesus-life! So there is still a lot for me to look forward to.

On a new Achnaton-calender every Aton-year should have eleven months, each consisting of three eleven-day weeks, and supplemented by two Aton-days (every four years: three aton-days). These are the worshipping-days, the holidays for the sun.
The Aton-year counts
11 x (3 x 11) + 2 (or 3) = 365 (or 366) days,
so nothing changes fundamentally - this is no revolution,
nor is it a revelation.

The knots in my Aton-years (my jubilee years, if you like) comprise in each case three sun-cycles. This is the way I travel through life: following my sunspots.

We can now fly higher and longer than ever: at eleven kilometers, on solar energy alone, with the 'immortel plane' called Helios. This is an Icarus that is really intelligent: it is not destroyed by the sun, but sustained!

More down to earth we also cross the Australian continent in a sundriven car at a speed of some sixty miles an hour, and win a race, as a Dutch team recently did.

Atonism, knowledge of the solar process, is a condition for life and should therefore be an obligatory item in anybody's education.

Who ever has been present at an eclipse of the sun, who ever saw the marriage between light and darkness, between life and death, will once and for all be convinced by Aton's inconceivable power.

A power that we more and more learn to understand, a power that is anti-absolutist (for there are billions of Atons in the universe), and that penetrates the farthest corners of each living cell.
Besides, there is nothing paranormal in all this: it doesn't 'mean' anything, fortunately enough.


Akhnaton was right to worship the Aton.
And I am not atonal but Atonist.
As is clear from my seal.




This Agenda announces the main performances of my work, and related events, beginning with the third millennium.

4 March, 2000
Amsterdam, Concertgebouw
Arch Music for Saint Louis.
Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, under Hans Vonk.
Vara Matinee.

6 March, 2000
Concert Hall Osaka
Osaka Symfoniker, under Tetsjiu Honna, Osaka.
Japanese premiere

14 march 2000
Conservatorium Tokio
SEPTET, premiere Japan.

17 June, 2000
Amsterdam, Concertgebouw
Triptych for our Time (Etudes - Een Indisch Requiem - De Hemel)
for soloists, choir and orchestra.
World premiere.
Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Large Radio Choir, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano, and Thomas Young, tenor, conducted by Hans Vonk.
Vara Matinee in the Holland Festival.
Broadcast on 21 June, Radio 4.

8 October, 2000
Rotterdam, Museum Booijmans
Genes for violin and piano.
World premiere.
Schat concert with Inscripties, Anathema, Polonaise '81 and Canto General.
Esther Pierweijer, soprano; Bart van de Roer, piano; Janine Jansen, violin.

10 October, 2000
Utrecht, Vredenburg
Schat concert. Same program as Rotterdam, October 8 2000.
Pre-concert talk with Emile Wennekes. Radio NPS.

8 December, 2000
The Hague, concerthal
Dances from the Labyrinth.
Hague Philharmonic, conducted by Alexander Liebreich.

6 February, 2001
Tokio, Concerthal
De Hemel.
Osaka Symphoniker, conducted by Tesjiu Honna.

(foto Honna)

Completing my second Jesus-life, reaching my 66th year
see under Atonism
I wrote several new pieces. Their first performances were clustered, like plants that are being put together to enhance their growth.

Some of these works are re-compositions of withdrawn ones from the past thirty years. They will now be premièred in their new and final form, jointly with other works.

17 and 18 may 2001
Amsterdam Concertgebouw
(Symphony nr. III,opus 45, part I 1999)
World premiere
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Hans Vonk conducting.


More world premieres in concert hall Vredenburg, Utrecht. :

21 may 2001
Utrecht, Vredenburg.
Schat concert

RONDGANG for chamber orchestra, op.42, (1996/2000)
Nieuw Symfonietta olv. …?
world premiere

ADEM a love song for chamber choir, op.32 (l984) Capella Amsterdam, under Daniel Reuss
TO WHOM for soprano and ensemble op.23 (l973/2000)
THE FOOD OF LOVE, for soprano, tenor and orchestra, op.43 (1997)
New Ymfonietta,soloists under…?
THE WALLPECKERS, a toccata for orchestra, op.38 (1991/2000)
Noord Hollands Filharmonisch orkest under Jurjen Hempel


On a Symposium that same day in the Utrecht University about the tone clock theory, a film by Fred van Dijk was premiered titled (as the music on which it is based) Arch Music for Saint Louis.

(foto St. Louis/ Vonk)

25 and 26 may 2001
Nijmegen and Arnhem, Concerthalls

SPRING CONCERTO for flute and orchestra, op. 36 (1996/2001)
Gelders Symphony Orchestra, under Neil Stulberg
Eleonore Pameijer, flute

20 september 2001
Amsterdam, IJsbreker/Rode Hoed
Concert around Ellen Ombre
POLONAISE '81, and GENES op. 47
Bart van der Roer, piano, and Vera Beths, violin


23 november 2001
Amsterdam, IJsbreker
New Zealnd Festival
7 and 8 march 2002
Amsterdam, Concertgebouw
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, under Hans Vonk



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web master: Pietje van Wijngaarden
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