Louis Andriessen in 1983

Louis Andriessen (Dutch pronunciation: [luˈi ˈɑndrisə(n)]; 6 June 1939 – 1 July 2021) was a Dutch composer, pianist and academic teacher. Considered the most influential Dutch composer of his generation, he was a central proponent of The Hague school of composition.[1] Although his music was initially dominated by neoclassicism and Boulezesque serialism, his style gradually shifted to a synthesis of American minimalism, jazz and the manner of Stravinsky. He taught at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague from 1973 to 2018, influencing notable composers. His opera La Commedia, based on Dante's Divine Comedy, won the 2011 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition and was selected in 2019 by critics at The Guardian as one of the most outstanding compositions of the 21st century.

Life and career

Andriessen was born in Utrecht on 6 June 1939 to a musical family,[2] the son of the composer Hendrik Andriessen[2] and Johanna Justina Anschutz.[3] His father was professor of composition at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and later its director. His brothers are composers Jurriaan Andriessen and Caecilia Andriessen (1931–2019), and he is the nephew of Willem Andriessen (1887–1964).[2]

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.[2]

In later decades he accepted commissions from major orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.[4] He held the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall during the 2009-10 season.[4]


Louis Andriessen at the Roundhouse, Vancouver, in 2009

In 1969, Andriessen co-founded STEIM in Amsterdam.[5][6] He also helped found the instrumental groups Orkest de Volharding[2] and Hoketus, both of which performed compositions of the same names.[7] He later became closely involved with the Schonberg and Asko ensemble and inspired the formation of the British ensemble Icebreaker.[8]


For Andriessen's notable students, see List of music students by teacher: A to B § Louis Andriessen.

Andriessen joined the faculty of the Royal Conservatory in 1978,[4][2] where he influenced notable students. Yale University invited him in 1987 to lecture on theory and composition.[4] The arts faculty of the University of Leiden appointed him professor in 2004.[4]

Personal life

Andriessen was married to guitarist Jeanette Yanikian (1935–2008). They were a couple for over 40 years, and were married in 1996.[9] He was married in 2012 a second time to violinist Monica Germino, for whom he wrote several works.[4][6] In December 2020, Germino announced that the composer was suffering from dementia.[10] He died on 1 July 2021 in Weesp at age 82.[11][2][12][4]

Style and notable works

Andriessen began in the style of an intentionally dry neoclassicism, but then turned into a strict serialist.[6] His early works show experimentation with various contemporary trends: post-war serialism (Series, 1958), pastiche (Anachronie I, 1966–67),[13] 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. From the early 1970s on he refused to write for conventional symphony orchestras and instead opted to write for his own idiosyncratic instrumental combinations, which often retain some traditional orchestral instruments alongside electric guitars, electric basses, and congas.[6] Andiessen repeatedly used his music for political confessions and messages, but he also referred to painting and philosophy.[6]

Andiessen's music was a unique blend of American sounds and European forms.[4] His mature music combines the influences of jazz, American minimalism,[2] Igor Stravinsky, and Claude Vivier.[14][15] 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 (1972–76),[2] 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 thus departs from post-war European serialism and its offshoots. He also played a role in providing alternatives to traditional performance practice techniques, often specifying forceful rhythmic articulation and amplified non-vibrato singing.

His notable works include Workers Union (1975), a melodically indeterminate piece "for any loud sounding group of instruments"; Mausoleum (1979) for two baritones and large ensemble; De Tijd (Time, 1979–81) for female singers and ensemble; De Snelheid (Velocity, 1982–83), for three 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);[4] and La Passione (2000–02) for female voice, violin and ensemble. His opera La Commedia, based on Dante's Divine Comedy, is particularly renowned; it won the 2011 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition and was selected in 2019 by critics at The Guardian as No 7 of the then most outstanding compositions of the 21st century.[16]

Awards and honours


Andriessen's primary publishers are Boosey & Hawkes and Donemus. Complete list of works:[20]


  1. ^ Schönberger 2001.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Huizenga, Tom (1 July 2021). "Louis Andriessen, Influential, Iconoclastic Dutch Composer, Dies At Age 82". WVTF. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  3. ^ Trochimczyk, Maja, ed. (2002). the Music of Louis Andriessen. Psychology Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-81-533789-8.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Louis Andriessen, Lionized Composer With Radical Roots, Dies at 82". The New York Times. 1 July 2021. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  5. ^ "STEIM Radio #9: The Founders". STEIM. 2 January 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e Baumgartner, Edwin (2 July 2021). "Nachruf". Klassik – Wiener Zeitung Online (in German). Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  7. ^ "Louis Andriessen". Schott Music (in German). Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  8. ^ "Review". Gramophone. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d e O'Mahony, John (28 September 2002). "Louis the first". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  10. ^ Power, Steph. "Louis Andriessen: The Only One". ClassicalMusic.com. BBC. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  11. ^ "Rebel Louis Andriessen was grootste Nederlandse componist sinds eeuwen". NRC.
  12. ^ "Componist Louis Andriessen (82) overleden". nos.nl.
  13. ^ "Louis Andriessen – Anachronie I". Boosey & Hawkes. 3 November 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  14. ^ Dürmeier, Franziska (11 June 2019). "Präzise, aber radikal". Süddeutsche.de (in German). Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  15. ^ Pay, David (2009) "Don't Get Too Comfortable" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2010. musiconmain.ca
  16. ^ Clements, Andrew; Maddocks, Fiona; Lewis, John; Molleson, Kate; Service, Tom; Jeal, Erica; Ashley, Tim (12 September 2019). "The best classical music works of the 21st century". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  17. ^ a b "Louis Andriessen (Composer, Arranger)". bach-cantatas.com. Bach Cantatas Website. 2019. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  18. ^ Dante-inspired opera wins Grawemeyer Award Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  19. ^ Cooper, Michael (17 November 2016). "An Extra Layer of Dutch for New York Philharmonic". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  20. ^ The Living Composers Project. Composers21.com. Retrieved on 26 October 2013.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Donemus catalogue Archived 26 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ a b c Dag in de Branding edition 12. Dagindebranding.nl. Retrieved on 26 October 2013.
  23. ^ Adlington, Robert (2004). "Louis Andriessen, Hanns Eisler, and the Lehrstüück". Journal of Musicology. 21 (3). University of California Press: 381–417. doi:10.1525/jm.2004.21.3.381. ISSN 0277-9269.
  24. ^ La Girò for violin and ensemble (U.S. premiere) Archived 13 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. LA Phil (14 May 2012). Retrieved on 26 October 2013.
  25. ^ "Louis Andriessen: Interview about his new Mysteries". Boosey.com. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  26. ^ "Andriessen discusses his new Theatre of the World". Boosey & Hawkes. March 2016. Archived from the original on 28 April 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  27. ^ Imogen Tilden (6 September 2019). "'The music said scream, so I did' – meet soprano Nora Fischer". The Guardian.

Further reading