Louis Andriessen has Alzheimer’s

The leading Dutch composer will watch tomorrow’s premiere of his final composition, titled ‘May’, from a care home. Its intended premiere in May was postponed due to Covid-19.

Andriessen, 81, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s after a fall at the beginning of this year.

The new choral work begins:

A new spring and a new sound:

I want this song to sound like the whistle

That I often heard for a summer night

In an old town, along the water canal.

His wife, Monica Germino, writes:

Words fail when trying to thank all of the people who made this possible, the indescribable outpouring of love and dedication surrounding the man and the music. The course of Louis’ illness is intertwined with the history and creation of May, set against the chaotic background of a world in turmoil and in the throes of a pandemic. It’s impossible to reach everyone in these lonely days of disconnect. A reason to speak now is to bring people closer together in dark times, and closer to Louis and his extraordinary life. Louis cast a wide net. He touched so many lives with his notes, his brilliance, his generosity.

UPDATE: Andriessen was a storm force in Dutch music. An electronic studio that he formed in 1969 with the pianist Reinbert de Leeuw and the jazz pianist Misha Mengelberg, followed by an avant-garde ensemble, blew fresh ideas into stuffy concert halls and put music from the Netherlands on the world map for the first time in five centuries. His sad senescence will be widely regretted.

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  • Andriessen’s May is in memory of Frans Brueggen and will be played by his Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, with Capella Amsterdam, conducted by Daniel Reuss.

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