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Program Notes 'Beelden' (Images)

Program Notes 'Beelden' (Images)

The musical world of Louis Andriessen: piano music by the Dutch composer, his teachers, peers, and students.

The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs by John Cage (1912-1992)

The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs is a song for voice and closed piano by John Cage. It was composed in late 1942 and quickly became a minor classic in Cage's oeuvre. The text is a reworked version of a passage from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake.


Image de Moreau by Louis Andriessen (1939-2021)

"The commission from Carnegie Hall to write a short piano work that was not too technically demanding fitted with a request to write a piece for a ‘Toccata-project’ of the Dutch virtuoso pianist Ivo Janssen. The toccata form was developed by Frescobaldi and Sweelinck, but became fashionable again in the early 1920s. This was the starting point for Image de Moreau, but the piece soon turns towards French late-Romanticism, the time and spirit of painters like Redon and Gustave Moreau. The paintings of Moreau combine large areas of abstraction with very sharp figurative details, faces and objects, opening up unexpected emotional feelings." Louis Andriessen, 1999


Berceuse voor Annie van Os by Louis Andriessen

"Annie van Os belonged to the family in a way. As I write, she is ninety-seven years old. She was a student of my father, and in 1955 she tutored me for the entrance exam to the conservatory. She, too, instilled a love of Bach into me; a love she in turn had acquired with Wanda Landovska, whom she admired. That is why Berceuse voor Annie van Os has a Bach theme in the right hand (the three-part invention in f minor, which I practised with her) and a barcarolle-like rhythm in the left hand, leaving out the first beat, a composition procedure that is typical for French and Italian 19th-century music. The Berceuse was written for 'aunt' Annie's ninetieth birthday." Louis Andriessen, 1993

Sonatina (in memoriam Willem Pijper) by Kees van Baaren (1906-1970)

Kees van Baaren was born in Enschede. His early studies (1924–29) were in Berlin with Rudolph Breithaupt (piano) and Friedrich Koch (composition) at the Stern conservatory. After returning to the Netherlands in 1929, he studied with Willem Pijper. He adopted Pijper's "germ cell technique" in his compositions from about 1934 onward. While composing some works in an accessible, tonal style, in other pieces he developed toward a serial technique. The sonatina was written for his teacher.

More information about the Dutch music scene in the 20th Century can be found here:

Sonatina No. 2 by Willem Pijper (1894-1947)

Willem Pijper was a Dutch composer, music critic and music teacher. Pijper is considered to be among the most important Dutch composers of the first half of the 20th century. He used polytonality and polyrhythm in his works. As a compositional method he used the 'germ cell technique' he invented, in which all kinds of motifs are set against a sound center that remains largely unchangeable. His preference for Spanish rhythms such as tango and habanera can be said to be somewhat surprising. His rhythmically sharp style avoids lyrical moments.

Menuet voor Marianne by Louis Andriessen

"My eldest brother Nico, the architect, was sixty in 1983. For his liber amicorum I wrote a Menuet for Marianne, his wife. Besides the ubiquitous Stravinsky, there is also some Scarlatti in the piece because they are both Baroque enthusiasts. Nico once explained to me how you could distinguish German from Italian Baroque music in one minute. Our own preference went towards the latter: my father, too, liked Bach mainly because he allowed himself to be inspired by the Italian style." Louis Andriessen, 1993

Compassion by Julia Wolfe (b. 1958)

Julia's accolades include a Pulitzer Prize in Music and a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. She won recognition for writing big, ambitious pieces that look back at American history. But she wrote one of her most stark, concise works as a response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Julia Wolfe lives in Lower Manhattan, just blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood. She and her family watched 9/11 unfold around them, and dealt with the aftermath. She called the work “Compassion.” 

Lied by Louis Andriessen

"Since the end of 1992 I have been working on an opera with the English film maker Peter Greenaway, but I managed some short pieces in the winter of 1992-93 because Greenaway was late with the rest of his libretto. Lied for Margriet de Moor is one of them. It should really have been called 'Troisième chorale', because it was written after Chorale and Deuxième chorale ('Troisième chorale' in the best tradition of my father, who, in the best tradition of Cesar Franck, who, in the best...etc.), but it became a Lied, be it without words. I would rather leave writing to Margriet de Moor." Louis Andriessen, 1993


Heartbreaker by Missy Mazzoli (b. 1980)

"As a composer who started her musical life as a pianist, it was unexpectedly difficult to write a short piece for the American Pianists Association’s competition. I wanted to write something virtuosic but something that stood out from traditionally showy “competitive” pieces. My new work, Heartbreaker, is virtuosic in subtle, unusual ways. It starts out deceptively simple, and quickly spirals into something that is just within the limits of the pianist’s control. It requires a virtuosity that is not about playing faster than everyone else, or even about playing more accurately than everyone else, but more about striking a balance between rhythmic precision and the free-wheeling abandon the piece requires." — Missy Mazzoli

Memory of Roses by Louis Andriessen

"An almost Zen-like still point is reached in The Memory of Roses, a performance for Tomoko Mukaiyama. The first six minutes are inaudible: she caresses, very slowly, the petals of a bouquet of red flowers. After one minute of immobility she moves over to the piano and finally plays a piece for piano and toy piano." Louis Andriessen, 1993

6 Encores by Luciano Berio (1925-2003)

The six short pieces Brin, Leaf, Wasserklavier, Erdenklavier, Luftklavier, and Feuerklavier were composed in the years between 1965 and 1990 and reflect very different moments of Berios piano music. The composer uses a different harmonic structure for each work and a continually changing piano technique to ensure each work has an effect of its own. Nevertheless, the cyclic character of all these little pieces becomes evident especially from Berio's unequivocal formal references to other piano works.

Original painting for poster design: 'Allegory of Fable' (1879) by Gustave Moreau


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