Louis Andriessen at MASS MoCA North Adams, MA July 2003 © Jeffrey Herman

Tribute to Louis Andriessen

Everyone at Bang on a Can has been devastated by the loss of our friend, the great Dutch composer Louis Andriessen.

Our musical relationship with Louis goes back before Bang on a Can, to when we were young composers trying to figure out what making music could mean.  As he did for young composers everywhere, he welcomed us, he taught us, he gave us a glimpse into a world in which a composer could be open to radical innovation, open to challenging music’s social place and power, open to building a community of composers and musicians who cared about each other, listened to each other, and helped each other.  We learned so much from him.

Louis’ music has been a huge presence at Bang on a Can.  One of the centerpieces of our very first event, the 1987 Marathon, was the US premiere of the 2 piano version of Louis’ De Staat, played by the fantastic Dutch group Pianoduo.  Over the years we’ve performed Louis’ music many many times – the New York premiere of his monumental work De Tijd, the premiere of his heartbreaking piece with film – Life – which we commissioned and toured around the world, plus countless performances of Hoketus, Workers Union and Hout, and many more.

These performances all flowed from Louis’ greatness as a composer, but he meant so much more to us than that.  We were constantly refreshed by his rebellious do-it-yourself spirit, his relentless pursuit of big ideas, his courageous and virtuosic impracticality, his fierce commitment to art, and the community of all who share it.  His belief in the artistic spirit inspired us, embraced us, encouraged us, and we will continue to live with his spirit in our hearts.

-Michael, David, Julie