Biography of

Louis Andriessen

6 jun 1939 (Utrecht) -
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Louis Andriessen (born 6 June 1939) is a Dutch composer and pianist based in Amsterdam. He teaches composition at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague. He was recipient of the Gaudeamus International Composers Award in 1959.


Life and career

Andriessen was born in Utrecht into a musical family, the son of the composer Hendrik Andriessen (1892-1981), brother of composers Jurriaan Andriessen (1925-1996) and Caecilia Andriessen (1931-), and nephew of Willem Andriessen (1887-1964).

Andriessen originally studied with his father and Kees van Baaren at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, before embarking upon two years of study with Italian composer Luciano Berio in Milan and Berlin. He later joined the faculty of the Royal Conservatory where his notable students included Steve Martland, Richard Ayres, Richard Baker, Jeff Hamburg, Ivana Kiš, Koji Nakano, Damien Ricketson, Patrick Saint-Denis, Juan Sebastian Lach, Michel van der Aa, Víctor Varela, and Jasna Veličković.

In 1969 Andriessen co-founded STEIM in Amsterdam. He also helped found the instrumental groups Orkest de Volharding and Hoketus, both of which performed compositions of the same names. He later became closely involved in the ongoing Schonberg and Asko ensembles and inspired the formation of the British ensemble Icebreaker.

Andriessen, a widower, was married to guitarist Jeanette Yanikian (1935-2008). They were a couple for over 40 years and were married in 1996.[1]

Style and notable works

Andriessen's early works show experimentation with various contemporary trends: post war serialism (Series, 1958), pastiche (Anachronie I, 1966-67), and tape (Il Duce, 1973). His reaction to what he perceived as the conservatism of much of the Dutch contemporary music scene quickly moved him to form a radically alternative musical aesthetic of his own. Since the early 1970s he has refused to write for conventional symphony orchestras and has instead opted to write for his own idiosyncratic instrumental combinations, which often retain some traditional orchestral instruments alongside electric guitars, electric basses, and congas.

Andriessen's mature music combines the influences of jazz, American minimalism, Igor Stravinsky and Claude Vivier. [2] His harmonic writing eschews the consonant modality of much minimalism, preferring post war European dissonance, often crystallised into large blocks of sound. Large scale pieces such as De Staat ['Republic'] (1972-76), for example, are influenced by the energy of the big band music of Count Basie and Stan Kenton and the repetitive procedures of Steve Reich, both combined with bright, clashing dissonances. Andriessen's music is thus anti-Germanic and anti-Romantic, and marks a departure from post war European serialism and its offshoots. He has also played a role in providing alternatives to traditional performance practice techniques, often specifying forceful, rhythmic articulations, and amplified, non-vibrato, singing.

Other notable works include Workers Union (1975), a melodically indeterminate piece "for any loud sounding group of instruments"; Mausoleum (1979) for 2 baritones and large ensemble; De Tijd ['Time'] (1979-81) for female singers and ensemble; De Snelheid ['Velocity'] (1982-3), for 3 amplified ensembles; De Materie ['Matter'] (1984-88), a large four-part work for voices and ensemble; collaborations with filmmaker and librettist Peter Greenaway on the film M is for Man, Music, Mozart and the operas Rosa: A Horse Drama (1994) and Writing to Vermeer (1998); and the recent La Passione (2000-02) for female voice, violin and ensemble.

Andriessen's music is published by Donemus in the Netherlands and Boosey & Hawkes in the United Kingdom and the United States. His recordings appear on the Nonesuch Records label.



  • Rondo Barbaro (1954) for piano[4]
  • Sonata (1956) for flute and piano (dedicated to Lucas van Regteren Altena)[5]
  • Elegy (1957) for cello and piano[6]
  • Elegy (1957) for double bass and piano (arrangement by Quirijn van Regteren Altena)[6]
  • Nuit d'été (1957) for piano 4 hands
  • Quartet in two movements (1957) for string quartet[5]
  • Séries (1958) for 2 pianos
  • Nocturnen (1959) (text by the composer) for 2 sopranos, orchestra (dedicated to Jeanette Yanikian)
  • Percosse (1959) for flute, trumpet, bassoon and percussion[5]
  • Prospettive e Retrospettive (1959) for piano
  • Trois Pièces (1961) for piano left hand
  • Aanloop en sprongen (1961) (Rincorsa e salti) for flute, oboe and clarinet in Bb[5]
  • Ittrospezione I (1961) for piano 4 hands
  • Joli commentaire (1961) for piano 4 hands
  • Paintings (1961) for one flutist (or recorder player) and one pianist[5]
  • Étude pour les timbres (1962) for piano
  • Triplum (1962) for guitar (dedicated to Jeanette Yanikian)
  • Canzone 3 (Utinam) (1962) for voice and piano[5]
  • Constructions for a Ballet (1962, revision 2009) for orchestra, including Ondine, timbres voor orkest[7]
  • Plain-chant (1963) for flute and harp (dedicated to Eugenie van des Grinten and Veronica Reyns)[5]
  • Ittrospezione II (1963) for large orchestra
  • Sweet (1964) for alto (treble) recorder (dedicated to Frans Brüggen)
  • Registers (1963) for piano
  • A flower song II (1964) for oboe solo[5]
  • A flower song III (1964) for violoncello solo[5]
  • Ittrospezione III (concept I) (1964) for 2 pianos and 3 instrumental groups[5]
  • Double (1965) for clarinet and piano (dedicated to George Pieterson and Tan Crone)[5]
  • Ittrospezione III (Concept II) – Fragment (1965) tenor saxophone ad libitum, 2 pianos (section of Ittrospezione III [Concept II]; may be performed separately)
  • Beatles Songs (1966) (satirical arrangements of four Beatles songs) for female voice and piano
  • Souvenirs d'enfance (1954-1966) for piano. Including amongst others: Nocturne, Ricercare, Allegro Marcato, As you like it, Blokken, Strawinsky, Rondo opus 1, Étude pour les timbres, dotted quarter note = 70


  • Adlington, Robert: De Staat. Hants. (UK): Ashgate (2004). ISBN 0-7546-0925-1
  • Andriessen, Louis and Elmer Schonberger (trans. Jeff Hamburg): The Apollonian Clockwork: On Stravinsky Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP (reprint, 2006). ISBN 90-5356-856-5
  • Trochimczyk, Maja (ed.): The Music of Louis Andriessen. London: Routledge (2002). ISBN 0815337892
  • Zegers, Mirjam (ed.): Trans. Clare Yates. The Art of Stealing Time. Arc Publications. ISBN 1-900072-88-2.

Notable students

External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Louis Andriessen. Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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