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The University of Amsterdam (UvA) will award an honorary doctorate to Louis Andriessen, one of the Netherlands’ most celebrated contemporary composers. Andriessen will receive the doctorate for his innovative work as a composer. Last week the UvA announced its decision to also award an honorary doctorate to acclaimed journalist Naomi Klein. Both doctorates will be conferred during the university’s Dies Natalis (anniversary) celebration on Tuesday, 8 January 2019.

Credits: Francesca Patella

Louis Andriessen is among the world’s most influential composers and musicians. He is one of the founders of the ‘Haagse School’, an avant-garde and minimalist musical movement that emerged in the second half of the 20th century. He was also one of the initiators of the Aktiegroep Notenkraker, a protest movement of Dutch composers who in the late 1960s called for a greater appreciation of the performance of modern classical music.

Throughout his distinguished career, Andriessen has received numerous awards for his individual compositions as well as his complete oeuvre. In 1977 he was awarded the Mattijs Vermeulen Prize and the first prize from the International Rostrum of Composers for his composition De Staat, considered by many to be one of the most important post-World War 2 compositions in Dutch music. In 2009 the American magazine Musical America awarded Andriessen its Musician of the Year Award in a ceremony in New York. For his operas, Andriessen has worked with prominent directors like Robert Wilson, Heiner Goebbels and Peter Greenaway. In 1991 he wrote the music for the Greenway-directed film M is for Man, Music, Mozart, for which he again received the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize.

Andriessen was, among other things, professor by special appointment at Radboud University Nijmegen and professor at Leiden University. He is also a member of the Society of Arts of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

Academic importance 

‘By developing the concept of art as theoretical object, Andriessen has been hugely important for the performing arts and for academic research into this field’, says honorary supervisor and professor of Theatre Studies Kati Röttger. ‘This includes work for musical theatre but also instrumental and instrumental-vocal compositions.’ 

Julia Kursell, professor of Musicology and honorary supervisor, adds: ‘Andriessen has played a crucial role in Dutch and international musical life, both as a lecturer in composition at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague and through the development of music ensemble culture.’


Karen Maex, rector magnificus of the UvA: ‘Louis Andriessen is an inspiration to many. He uses his compositions as a means to focus on beauty. In doing so, he does not stick to conventions but instead creates new and adventurous ways to achieve his ideal of beauty. His work has had a major impact and been an important influence in the Netherlands and abroad. In addition, Andriessen has regularly been involved in projects at the UvA both within research and teaching. On behalf of the UvA, I am tremendously proud to award an honorary doctor to Louis Andriessen.’

Honorary supervisors are Julia Kursell, professor of Musicology, and Kati Röttger, professor of Theatre Studies, at the Faculty of Humanities.