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In Memoriam Louis Andriessen

A great composer and teacher is no more. A fine person and a fantastic speaker leaves us behind …

Louis Andriessen’s significance for contemporary music in the Netherlands, and not least internationally, lies not only in how and what he composed, but especially in what he passed on about composing to younger generations.

As a teacher, he drew a very large number of composers to The Hague. A number of them followed him in what came to be known as the typical style of The Hague (Haagse School), but many developed their own fingerprints and became celebrated composers themselves. Louis did not just teach his students the art of composing, he was constantly exchanging ideas about music and life with them, preferably in the pub or cafe, where they could talk freely and smoke hand rolled cigarettes . Louis was a wonderful speaker.

The typical ensemble culture, which flourished in the 1980s and is still not in its twilight years, would not have taken off so much, certainly not in the Netherlands, without the impetus that Louis gave as a pianist in his own ensembles De Volharding (The Perseverance) and Hoketus. Writing for your own friends in the 1970s guaranteed the best performance of your work, and not only did those two ensembles grow to international fame, but also Asko and many other ensembles that still exist today.

As a young talent, Louis was repeatedly a guest at Gaudeamus in the late 1950s. From the moment he became recognized internationally and committed to composing more large-scale works, his name appeared less often on the programme of Gaudeamus concerts. But he visited Gaudeamus every year and never stopped showing his interest in what was going on among the young composers. In all those years he was the most loyal visitor of the Gaudeamus Muziekweek.

~Henk Heuvelmans

foto: Louis Andriessen tijdens Gaudeamus 2015  (c) Anna van Kooij