KEES VAN BAAREN
22-10-1906 - 02-09-1970
Kees van Baaren
In his youth, Kees van Baaren played jazz and accompanied the Kabarett der Unmöglichen [Cabaret of the Impossible] to support himself. His great inspiration at the time was the jazz pianist Fats Waller. The pianist – and Van Baaren student – Misha Mengelberg said: “Van Baaren played Waller's music pretty ...
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Biography Kees van Baaren
In his youth, Kees van Baaren played jazz and accompanied the Kabarett der Unmöglichen [Cabaret of the Impossible] to support himself. His great inspiration at the time was the jazz pianist Fats Waller. The pianist – and Van Baaren student – Misha Mengelberg said: “Van Baaren played Waller's music pretty well himself, with much more interesting chords than Waller used, but without a trace of swing.” As a teacher and composer, he stimulated Dutch musical life and the generation of composers who were his students, among whom were Louis Andriessen, Theo Bruins, Reinbert de Leeuw, Misha Mengelberg, David Porcelijn, Peter Schat, Jan van Vlijmen, Jan Wisse and, surprisingly, Harry Bannink. Van Baaren composed mainly orchestral and chamber music.
Kees van Baaren is born on October 22 in Enschede. The son of a music dealer, he was playing the piano, cello, and harmonica at an early age.
1923 - 1929
At the Stern'sche Konservatorium, he studies the piano with Rudolf Breithaupt and composition and music theory with Boris Blacher and Friedrich Koch. He performs as a jazz and cabaret pianist under the name Billy Barney.
1931 - 1936
Van Baaren takes composition lessons from Willem Pijper at the Rotterdam Conservatory. His earliest surviving piece, Quintetto per Archi, dates from 1933; he destroyed all of his other early works. His music often simulataneously incorporates Pijper's germ-cell and Schoenberg's dodecaphonic techniques. He says of this: “To me, there is no difference between the germ-cell and the row. When I told Pijper, he said, 'You're absolutely right, but I can't keep my eye on twelve of them at the same time.' ”
1936 - 1947
During this period, Van Baaren does not make any of his compositions public. After the war, he teaches at the Rotterdam Conservatory.
He is named director of the Amsterdam Muzieklyceum.
1952 - 1959
Pijper exerts a strong influence on him, but despite Willem Pijper's objections to Schoenberg, Van Baaren adopts some of his techniques. This is evident in the 'Septet' (1952), on the basis of which, Van Baaren is praised as “the 'most modern' composer in the Netherlands”. That this music “on a first hearing, sounds more like Pijper than Schoenberg says something about the influence of his [Van Baaren's] teacher”. (Elmer Schönberger: 'Serialisme in Nederland, pro en contra' [Serialism in the Netherlands, pros and cons]). He later repeats this dodecaphonic style in the 1950s in, among other works, 'Musical Self-Portrait' (1957) and 'Sinfonia' (1957) for orchestra. In 1953 he is named director of the Utrecht Conservatory, and in 1958, of the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.
He establishes his reputation as a serial composer with 'Variazioni per orchestra'. “On the basis of this and later compositions, Van Baaren is seen as the 'father of serialism' in the Netherlands.” (Leo Samama, 2006)
Kees van Baaren is awarded the Sweelinck Prize for his complete oeuvre. 'Musica per Orchestra' (1966) is his last piece for large ensemble, and 'Musica per Campane' – the second version 1969) – his last completed work. A violin concerto for the violinist Theo Olof remains unfinished.
Kees van Baaren dies on September 2 in Oegsgeest.
In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.
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