Composer of the month: Theo Loevendie

tue 1 dec 2020

This month, Theo Loevendie is our composer of the month. Loevendie (1930) – who is still active as a composer and improviser – started his career as a jazz musician. He started composing classical music later in his life, but jazz is never far away from Loevendie, just as the influences from Turkish and non-Western music. This month you can listen to a few examples.

Even though he grew up in an era where the battle between tonal and atonal music was intense, Loevendie was occupied with other questions: “How do I unite Western and non-Western elements in such a way that the non-Western does not sound like an exotic frame? And how do I combine jazz and classical music without one dominating the other?” Besides that, he also works with the tension between freedom and attachment.

You will also hear Loevendies opera Gassir from 1991. He was inspired by an African story about the warrior Gassir who thought his fame was everlasting. First, a partridge put him with both feet on the ground by telling him he will be forgotten. After that, Gassir loses his eight sons in battle. A lute, which Gassir had made for him, does not sing about his heroic deeds but proclaims that he will live on through his tears and his grief. Similar to his prior opera Naima, Loevendie wrote dialogs that were both powerful and serious, the instrumentation is often between chamber music and orchestral music. And all of this in a short period: the opera lasts as long as an act and does not take longer than half an hour.

Loevendie’s most recent opera The Rise of Spinoza, 2014, is about freedom and attachment as well. And even though this is an opera, the music is constantly enjoyable because Loevendie mostly uses the same techniques as in his non-theatre compositions. Loevendie wrote the libretto, about Spinoza’s exile from Amsterdam. At De Concertzender you will hear the premiere.

Composer of the month, Friday 4 December on weekdays between 4 and 5 pm.