Zilver

1994

The idea behind Zilver was to write a chorale variation as Bach did for organ: a long, slow-moving melody, combined with the same melody played faster. The ensemble is divided into two groups: the wind and strings play the sustained melody in chorale-like four-part harmony, and the rest of the instruments – vibraphone, marimba and piano – play increasingly fast staccato chords. The two groups play in canons.

Zilver is one of a planned series of chamber pieces named after a type of physical matter. Hout (‘wood’) is the first, and Zilver (‘silver’) is the second. The title also refers to the two silver instruments – flute and vibraphone – which start and end the piece.


Louis Andriessen NL

Louis Andriessen was born in Utrecht in 1939 into a musical family: his father Hendrik, and his brother Jurriaan were established composers in their own right. Andriessen studied with his father and Kees van Baaren at the Hague Conservatory, and between 1962 and 1964 undertook further studies in Milan and Berlin with Luciano Berio. Since 1974 he has combined teaching with his work as a composer and pianist. He is now widely regarded as the leading composer working in the Netherlands today and is a central figure in the international new music scene.

From a background of jazz and avant-garde composition, Andriessen has evolved a style employing elemental harmonic, melodic and rhythmic materials, heard in totally distinctive instrumentation. His acknowledged admiration for Stravinsky is illustrated by a parallel vigour, clarity of expression, and acute ear for colour. He has tackled complex creative issues, exploring the relation between music and politics in De Staat, the nature of time and velocity in De Tijd and De Snelheid, and questions of mortality in Trilogy of the Last Day.

Andriessen's compositions have attracted many leading exponents of contemporary music; he has been commissioned and performed throughout The Netherlands and by the San Francisco Symphony, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, MusikFabrik, Icebreaker, the Bang on a Can All Stars, the California EAR Unit, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Collaborative works with other artists include a series of dance projects, the full length theatre piece De Materie created with Robert Wilson for the Netherlands Opera, and three works created with Peter Greenaway.  Recent film collaborations include The New Math(s) created with Hal Hartley in 2000, broadcast on TV and performed internationally. Nonesuch Records has released a series of recordings of Andriessen's major works, including the complete De Materie, ROSA Death of a Composer and Writing to Vermeer.

Recent commissions include La Commedia, an operatic setting of Dante for Netherlands Opera premiered at the Holland Festival in June 2008 in a production by Hal Hartley, and The Hague Hacking premiered by the Labèque Sisters and the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen in January 2009. In 2010 Andriessen wrote the music theatre piece Anaïs Nin for singer Cristina Zavalloni and 8 musicians.

Louis Andriessen won the 2011 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his opera La Commedia; he is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes (edited)

Louis Andriessen