Less than a week following the death of Frederic Rzewski, on Thursday we lost Dutch composer Louis Andriessen at the age of 82. One of the most influential composers of the past half-century, Andriessen was largely responsible for introducing minimalism to Europe, though he later expanded his palette to works of great color and complexity. I had the chance to hear his music multiple times over the past twenty years, including an outdoor performance of Workers' Union during 2008's Make Music New York, a 2010 performance of Die Staat by Carnegie's Ensemble ACJW and John Adams, and a double bill of his operas Anais Nin and Odysseus' Women at National Sawdust in 2016.
But for me, the high water mark was 2018's Agamemnon, which the NY Phil commissioned for Jaap van Zweden's first year as Music Director. Agamemnon was Andriessen's first work for large orchestra in decades, filled with militaristic brass and heavy percussion. It was bold, loud, often terrifying. The work was the centerpiece of a week-long festival of Andriessen's music presented by the Phil; in addition, he was the Debs Composer Chair at Carnegie Hall and was a frequent collaborator with Bang on a Can, who considered him both a mentor and kindred spirit:
"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."
Times obit here.