The Netherlands’ most senior composer, Louis Andriessen, has died at the age of 82. A producer of work in all genres, but especially noted for his music theatre pieces, he leaves a lasting legacy, especially in the dozens of living composers who cite his influence.
Andriessen, whose early works owed a debt to Boulez and the European serialists, forged a unique sound in his later music that fused an accessible classicism with elements of 1970s minimalism, jazz, cabaret and even rock. His twin musical gods were likely Bach and Stravinsky.
Born in the Dutch city of Utrecht on 6 June 1939, Andriessen’s was a musical family. His father, Hendrik Andriessen, was a noted composer and professor who would become the director of the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. Louis has two siblings who are also composers: Caecilia (1931–2019) and Jurriaan. Initially taught by his father, of greater significance would be the two years he spent from 1961 to 1963 in Milan studying with Luciano Berio. Andriessen would pick up certain aspects of the Italian composer’s political philosophy, stylistic eclecticism and maverick approach to classical music.
Influenced by Marxist political theory, and to an...