Composer of the month: Marius Flothuis

wed 29 apr 2020
Theme: Modern Music

In May, Marius Flothuis will be our composer of the month. For a long time, Marius Flothuis (1914-2001) was the eminence grise of the Dutch music scene. Around 1937, he became known as a composer, musicologist and as the assistant leader of the Dutch Concertgebouworkest. He had to give up this latter position in 1942, when he refused to collaborate with the Nazis. He was organising underground concerts, was betrayed and imprisoned, firstly in Vught and later he was deported to Germany. Sonata da camera for flute and piano is one of the pieces he composed in captivity. It is a work that is unmarked by the conditions in which it was created. Marius Flothuis called it ‘a counterbalance to all the ugliness that is surrounding me’. He believed that all art, not only music, illustrated the power of creativity, especially in the darkest periods.

In 1955, Marius Flothuis became the artistic leader of the Concertgebouworkest, a position he fulfilled up to 1974. Two years later, in 1957, he was asked to compose an orchestral work by the principal conductor Eduard van Beinum. A request that resulted in his work Symphonic music, which was frequently performed in the following years. The music exudes all Flothuis stands for: it is tonal with both impressionistic and expressionistic accents, it is concise, well-structured and elegant. During the 1980s, his music style was changing; he was experimenting more freely with the elements of his style.

The 75th anniversary of Liberation Day
If the Coronavirus had not hit us, we would have been exuberantly celebrating the 75th anniversary of Liberation Day on 5 May 2020. For the 40th anniversary in 1985, Flothuis composed the choral work ‘May 1940’ based on a text by poet Clara Eggink. The music is far from triumphant, because the joy of liberation is still tempered by our experiences with the darker side of mankind. The work premiered on 4 May 1985, a very appropriate date because we commemorate the war casualties on this date.

As of Friday 1 May 2020, you can listen to Composer of the Month between 16.00 and 17.00 CET.