Louis Andriessen

Featured Event:

La Commedia (based on Dante’s Divine Comedy), presented in concert version, April 15, 2010.

Drawing on a background in both jazz and avant-garde composition, Louis Andriessen creates works that can be “narrative … anecdotes … [or] sound hallucinations,” according to the composer. His 2009–2010 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair events include a special Making Music concert; the New York premieres of Symphony of Open Strings and Andriessen’s opera La Commedia, performed in concert; the US premiere of Life (with video by Marijke Van Warmerdam); performances of De Staat, Zilver, and Dances; and Three Naughty Boys and Three Crazy Girls, a series of late-night improvisatory concerts, curated by Andriessen for Carnegie Hall.

Read more about Louis Andriessen »


Louis and the Young Americans

Renegade Dutch composer Louis Andriessen pushes his students to go in unpredictable directions. In this program, we hear a New York premiere of his own—a string orchestra piece with a special twist—as well as premieres by composers he has influenced, each with differing sounds that range from rapturous and offbeat to downright raucous.

Program Details

American Composers Orchestra
Jeffrey Milarsky, Conductor
William Anderson, Conductor
John Korsrud, Trumpet

LOUIS ANDRIESSEN Symphony for Open Strings (NY Premiere)
MISSY MAZZOLI These Worlds in Us (World Premiere, new orchestration)
MICHAEL FIDAY Gonzo Variations — Hunter S. Thompson in memoriam (World Premiere)
JOHN KORSRUD Come to the Dark Side (World Premiere)

Tickets start at $38.


Posted February 24, 2010


Drawing on a background in both jazz and avant-garde composition, Louis Andriessen’s music is widely regarded as a revolt against the legacy of German Romanticism. Holder of the 2009—2010 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair, Andriessen recently discussed his singular style with Jeremy Geffen, Carnegie Hall’s Director of Artistic Planning.

Jeremy Geffen: Over the years, your music has enjoyed a particular success in the United States. Why do you think that is?

Louis Andriesssen: You’re right; my music is known in Anglo-Saxon countries, but in many other countries (like Germany, France, Spain, and Sweden), they have no idea who I am. Most of my music is clearly not only in the European tradition of avant-garde music—which basically deals with the Second Viennese School, like Webern and Berg and Schoenberg, and of course the gurus in my youth, Stockhausen and Berio (who was my teacher). But from when I was 10 years old, and through my teenage years, I was highly impressed by American folk music, jazz, and bebop. All those things have influenced me much more than the whole German Romantic period in classical music.

Posted February 1, 2010

An essay and conversation about the ideas and music of Louis Andriessen, by David Pay

At a time in our history when the all-encompassing individual pursuit of private riches has delivered society to the brink of economic ruin, the music and ideas of Louis Andriessen offer a profound alternative to limitless capitalism.

Through his music, we’re reminded that things aren’t always what they seem, and that over time, the posing of alternatives—to whatever those things might be—transforms ideas, events, and even people. Andriessen’s music shows that we can (and should!) critique the world around us while still remaining a part of it. And he demonstrates that collectivity requires leadership, but that leadership does not require hierarchy valuing one person’s commitment and contribution more than another’s.