Ensembles
   

 

In the early fifties of the last century the opera died, like the symphony, the novel, the portrait, or God had done before.
We revolutionaries were going to make a completely new, post-holocaust culture, in which a New Man would prevent anything like this ever to happen again.

And we did as we had promised to do. Astonishing new musical structures, unheard-of before, came into being, in countless new forms. As if suddenly a new forest had been discovered, with an infinite number of hitherto unknown insects. Great days for the insectophiles!

The philharmonic orchestra exploded into specialized ensembles, which found their own specialized public that behaved like little Nabokovs, chasing after new butterflies.

To make all this happen (and I'm glad it did!) we needed revolutionary action. With the comrades of Reconstruction we gave an unforgettable performance of our own Nutcracker Suite in the Concertgebouw, with little toy-frogs and extended pamphlets. It caused a public uproar that nearly cost me my life, had I not been rescued by the local police.

In those inspiringly uproarious years I wrote several ensemble pieces for wild combinations of instruments:

Concerto da camera (1960), for piano, clarinets, strings and percussion.

CONCERT DA CAMERA, op. 10 (1960)
0200 0000 perc pf str duration: 15'

Entelechy I, for five instrumental groups (1960), which I wrote while attending Boulez' masterclass in Basel. It was premiered in 1961 in the Donaueschinger Musiktage, under Hans Rosbaud.

Program note

ENTELECHY I, op. 12 (1960-1961)
for five instrumental groups
I fl bn trp 4vl
II cel trp 3vla
III hp cb
IV 5vc
V perc ob trb
duration: 15'
commissioned by the Südwestfunk

Entelechy II, for soprano and ten instruments, is a completely 'mobile form' -
the dream of Mallarmee (Le Livre) that Boulez made us dream in his master class in Basel. (See his third pianosonate and his Eclat)

Program note

ENTELECHY II, op. 13 (1961)
scenes for 11 musicians
sopr-m fl cl trp perc hp pf vibr vl vla vc
text (Dutch): Bert Schierbeek (with Eng. transl.) duration: 32'
commissioned by the Dutch Government

Signalement, for six percussionists and three double basses, was the last piece I wrote in Basel. It was commissioned by the percussion group of Strassburg and premiered in Boulez' Domain Musical in Paris

SIGNALEMENT, op. 14 (1961)
for 6 percussionists and 3 double-basses
duration: 18'

Back in Amsterdam I wrote:

Improvisationsfrom the Labyrinth, for three singers and four instruments (1964). They were part of the opera and graphically a clock-form.

Presently this form was further developed in:

Clockwise and anti-clockwise, for sixteen wind-instruments (1967)

Program note

CLOCKWISE and ANTI-CLOCKWISE, op. 17 (1967)
for 16 wind instruments
3333 4000
duration: 11'
commissioned by the Dutch Government for the Netherlands Wind Ensemble

The dream of a mobile score was driven to the point of dissolution of the musical form - just as Guevara wanted to blow up the capitalist bourgois society.

On Escalation, for six percussion-players and an orchestra of twenty-five (1968), Thispiece was written for a 'political-demonstrative-experimental' concert ('marxist-leninist-maoist' - to frighten the bourgois) as we organised it in the Carre-theatre in Amsterdam on 31 may 1968, which coincided happily with 'les evenements' in Paris. It caused again a lot of upheavel - 200 policeman surrounded the theatre. But luckily enough (in hindsight) it didn't start the hoped-for revolution in Holland (which would no doubt have ended in Cambodia-like killing fields.)

Program note

ON ESCALATION, op. 18 (1968)
for 6 solo percussion players and orchestra
3533 2sax-t 2210 2el.g vl vla vc
duration: 18'
commissioned by the city of Amsterdam

Thema, for oboe solo, wind players, guitars and organs, all electrified (1970)

This piece belongs to my most extreme, repetitive and loudest compositions. It was premiered in the Holland Festival 1970 in the Concertgebouw,under my direction. When it was retaken 25 years later in The Hague it was generally considered to be the starting-point of the repetitive-fortissimo 'Hague-school' of 'bulldozer Louis Andriessen'. (But I never aspired to form a 'school' myself. I'd seen enough in Darmstadt and the like - they're always breeding-places of epigonism and fanaticism.)

Program note

THEMA, op. 21 (1970)
for oboe solo and orchestra
ob-solo 0054 3sax 0330 3g-b ham.org
(all instruments ampl.)
duration: 14'
commissioned by the Dutch Government
for the Holland Festival

For a theatre production with the Werktheater in Carré I wrote:
To You, for soprano, 4 pianos, 2 organs, 6 guitars, 3 bass guitars and 6 huge hummingtops (1972), all electrified. It was the first time I used a poem by Adrian Mitchell, which pretty much described my own experience during the nazi war.

The music and the six spectacular hummingtops had a longlasting and resounding effect on the musical community in Amsterdam.

Program note

TO YOU, op. 22 (1972)
sopr-m 4pf 2el.org 6g 3g-b 6 tops
electro-nics (all instruments ampl.)
text: Adrian Mitchell
duration: 21'
commissioned by the city of Amsterdam

To You was followed in 1973 by a great lament about the Vietnam war, the cantata The Fifth Season. It was played in the open by the Amsterdam Electric Circus of Floris Guntenaar.

It was recomposed in 2001 and again performed under the title:

To Whom

for soprano and eleven instruments. Based on the poem To Whom It May Concern by Adrian Mitchell, who wrote it at the height of the Vietnam war in 1968. The obsessive refrain 'Tell me lies about Vietnam' was very much directed at the American and Dutch establishment of those days, but by the time of the second performance in 2001 the same line fitted the communist victors, who had strangled a free press.

 
  I wrote two pieces for chamber choir, in 1960 and in 1984. The first one, The Fall, can be seen as a first attempt to discover what I later called 'chromatic tonality', and the second one, Adem, as a consistent realisation of that concept. A capella singing in a chromatic style poses some very difficult problems that serialism couldn't solve.

Adem,a song for chamber choir, on an Egyptian text from the times of Achnaton.
See also Atonism under the first Hour
and chapter 17 - Breath, a metaphor
from The Tone Clock.

Program note

ADEM [Breath], op. 32 (1984)
a song for chamber choir
8-part mixed choir a cappella
text: inscription from an Egyptian king's tomb
(Dutch transl.)
duration: 12'
commissioned by the Amsterdam Arts Fund
for the Netherlands Chamber Choir

 

From the opera Houdini I arranged a fragment for tenor, choir and two piano's,
The 'police scene':

I AM HOUDINI, a ballet to sing (l976)

I AM HOUDINI, op. 25c (1976)
a ballet to sing
(7th scene from the opera Houdini)
ten 4-part mixed choir 2pf
text: Adrian Mitchell
duration: 8'
originally for tenor, choir and orchestra; arr. by the composer

A rather 'vocal' style is also used in a

Serenade for strings (1984).

SERENA DE, op. 31 (1984)
for 12 strings
duration: 12'
commissioned by the Caecilia Consort