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Archive Gaudeamus (1945 - )

‘We are here for tomorrow’s art’

In November 1945 founder Walter Maas had a spontaneous flash of inspiration which sowed the seeds of the Gaudeamus Foundation. Since then, fundamental to the musical progress of the Netherlands has been Gaudeamus’ unwavering encouragement of national and international composers, sound innovators and interpreters: explore, experiment, be critical, discover and keep going. Attempts that are considered ‘failed’ are just as important as successful ones, after all. Though successes there were too: iconic pieces such as Poème Symphonique by György Ligeti, One by Michel van der Aa and On Taoism by Tan Dun had their premiere at Gaudeamus.

On this anniversary page, the over 75-year-old Gaudeamus offers a glimpse into its turbulent past, the unexpected present and the unknown future. Curious to see what other treasures our archive holds? Check out the online inventory.

On 13 September 1963, during the final concert of the Gaudeamus Muziekweek, the legendary piece ‘Poème Symphonique’ by Hungarian composer György Ligeti premiered, commissioned by Gaudeamus. A piece for 100 metronomes that are switched on simultaneously in different tempi, resulting in a polyrhythmic jungle.



On the occasion of the 75 year anniversary of Gaudeamus, we made a beautiful bound edition entitled How the unheard-of comes to unpredictable life. This beautiful collection of 5 booklets contains special stories from the history of Gaudeamus since 1945.

History can be made at any moment. On a Sunday afternoon. In a glowing recommendation. After dozens of phone calls. By listening. In the decision never to give up. Premieres sound. Batons are passed on. In full confidence. Time goes by. Pioneers cultivate new resources.

Gaudeamus is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Did you know that this is a very suitable opportunity to reveal what perhaps should have been forgotten? To remember what should not be forgotten. To be amazed at all those moments when so much could go wrong. And how much still went right. To laugh at impetuosity. And to reflect on the value of unpredictability.

‘Gaudeamus music’ is no longer strict neo-avant-garde, nor just the easy-scoring formula of pop music, no longer the flattened renewed neo-spirituality or the interminably exasperating continuations of minimalism. Gaudeamus music is no more. It is also no less. It is Kaptijn, Andriessen, Oliveros, Korsun, Van der Aa, Tsoupaki, Kyriakides, Bettison, Ayres, Grahl and can be much more. Gaudeamus music is above all not — nor should it be — the stamp that the zeitgeist puts on it, not what the present day demands or desires. I desire music that turns against time. A music that marks its own time. A music, perhaps, for eternity.



One hundred metronomes in motion. Almost six decades later, what was a risky musical enterprise in 1963 is now nowhere near enough to incur the public’s wrath. We now find experimental music ‘inaccessible’ rather than unacceptable, explains Persis Bekkering. Have we lost something? Can rebellion in art still exist? And is ‘the new’ even better, the writer wonders. Does connection not outweigh it? An unexpectedly changing starting point emerges from an avant-garde angle.

A remarkable piece of music from love of the night. Two artists from different corners of the world, another compass point. In what way will they understand each other? How can the intangible desire to create in collectivity find its own form? These are the ideal ingredients for an entirely intuitive experiment. Gaudeamus boldlyoffers the space for it, without knowing the end result. At the moment of the performance the outcome will reveal itself.



Music publicist Thea Derks is specialized in modern music. Ever since the late 1980s, an annual visit to Gaudeamus has been a “regular item in my concert calendar”. For the program note of the opening concert of the Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2020, we asked her to look back on the Gaudeamus history she experienced.

From the outset, Dutch electronic music found itself in between two principal European trends: the musique concrète introduced by French radio in 1948 and the German elektronische Musik that emerged from 1951 onwards at the Cologne broadcast station. The first real Dutch electronic music studio was built in 1956, not by a broadcasting company but, remarkably enough, by the acoustics department at Philips Research Laboratories as part of a research program. Around the same time as Philips was establishing the first Dutch studio for electronic music, Walter Maas, director of the Gaudeamus foundation for contemporary music, took steps that led to the founding of the Contactorgaan Elektronische Muziek (Electronic music contact organization), or CEM.

Gaudeamus was founded by Walter Maas: a Jewish textile engineer who fled from the nazis, and who grew to be a passionate advocate of young composers and their work. A man whose willfulness is part of Gaudeamus’ DNA to this day.

For 75 years Gaudeamus has drawn attention to the music of tomorrow. Music without borders or earmuffs: it’s a rare source of inspiration, that designers have shaped and visualised in very different ways over the last 75 years.



From the outset, Gaudeamus has played a major role in researching and developing new technological possibilities. Innovation and progress come from the bottom up. That is why Gaudeamus has been presenting, stimulating and supporting the latest music by young music pioneers and composers for the last 75 years.



ISCM, EPCNM, IAMIC…. The history of 75 years of Gaudeamus is also a history of abbreviations. This is because Gaudeamus not only established its own festival and organisation, but from the get go was very active in establishing and supporting national and international structures in which contemporary music could thrive.


Podcast: Curious Ears

In this series of podcasts made especially for Gaudeamus musicians from different cultures give a highly personal introduction to the music they are in love with.