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Maurice Horsthuis


28-04-1948 - current


altviool, componist, contemporary classical music, improvised


Elastic Jargon website
Officiële website

Maurice Horsthuis

Maurice Horsthuis (Breda, 28 April 1948) is a classically trained violist who ends up in the Amsterdam improv scene in the late seventies. He champions the role of string players in improvised music, and becomes a member of prominent groups like the Maarten Altena Quartet, the Instant Composers Pool and ...
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altviool, componist

Mentioned in the biography of

1980   Ernst Glerum
1990   Jan Willem van der Ham
1995   Jorrit Dijkstra
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Biography Maurice Horsthuis

Maurice Horsthuis (Breda, 28 April 1948) is a classically trained violist who ends up in the Amsterdam improv scene in the late seventies. He champions the role of string players in improvised music, and becomes a member of prominent groups like the Maarten Altena Quartet, the Instant Composers Pool and the Guus Janssen Septet. He also makes a name for himself as a composer of theater music (for the Baal Theater Company and others). In order to give his incidental music more attention in concert performances he founds the Amsterdam Drama orchestra. As a member and principal composer of the Amsterdam String Trio he builds an international reputation. His most recent group, Elastic Jargon, consists of string players exclusively; Horsthuis is the ensemble's sole composer.


When the classically trained Maurice Horsthuis hears that pianist-composer Loek Dikker occasionally plays jazz with strings, he approaches him. Eventually he makes his way into an octet version of Dikker's Improvisators Guild, including the American saxophonist J.R. Monterose, the German trumpeter Manfred Schoof, bassist Arjen Gorter and drummer Martin van Duynhoven.

Arjen Gorter Loek Dikker Martin van Duynhoven


In saxophonist Herman de Wit's Herbie White Combo Horsthuis meets pianist Guus Janssen. Together with Janssen, Arjen Gorter and drummer Peter van Ginkel he forms his own first group, a quartet. In September 1974 he is featured in pianist-composer Leo Cuypers's group at the Amsterdam Shaffy Theater. One piece of this performance finds its way onto the LP Live In Shaffy, released by BVHaast.

Guus Janssen Herman de Wit Leo Cuypers


Bassist Maarten (van Regteren) Altena asks Horsthuis to join his string ensemble K'Ploeng, featuring guitarist Derek Bailey, cellist Tristan Honsinger and multi-instrumentalist Terry Day. Altena releases the band's eponymous debut LP on his Claxon label in 1978.

Maarten Altena Tristan Honsinger


For a children's matinee of the Amsterdam Electric Circus Horsthuis writes the music theater piece Violen Paultje (Violin Paul – the name is a pun on a notorious Dutch gangster), in which he himself plays the lead as a brilliant young violinist who leaves for the States to pursue his career, but ends up in gangsters' circles. Bassist Maarten Altena asks Horsthuis for his new quartet, with oboist Maud Sauer and alto saxophonist Paul Termos. The group makes its stage debut in the theater production Willem de Zwijger (William the Silent – about William of Orange) by musical theater maker Teo Joling. Horsthuis stays in the ensemble until 1981, when he is replaced by trombonist Wolter Wierbos. Guitarist Derek Bailey invites Horsthuis for his annual international Company week for improvisers. The other participants of this edition are pianist Misha Mengelberg, bassist Johnny Dyani, drummer Tony Oxley, trumpeter Leo Smith and multi-instrumentalist Terry Day.

Paul Termos


At the request of theater director Lodewijk de Boer (himself a violist) Horsthuis starts composing for the Baal Theatre Company. Until 1987 he composes incidental music for the company's productions like Kaspar (Peter Handke), The Suicide (Nikolai Erdman), Figaro Gets a Divorce (Ödön von Horvath), Torture (Herman Heijermans), The Complaint (Judith Brokking), Mother Courage (Bertolt Brecht) and the highly praised Leedvermaak (Malicious Delight; 1982) by Dutch playwright Judith Herzberg.


Misha Mengelberg invites Horsthuis to join the Instant Composers Pool. The violist makes his recording debut with the ensemble on the LP Japan Japon (1982). Horsthuis leaves the ICP, but returns once again, and plays a role in the programs with music by Herbie Nichols (1984) and Thelonious Monk (1986), which can be heard on the cassette Extension Red White & Blue (1984, the Nichols program) an the CD Two Programs (1986). His final recording with Mengelberg's band is the suite De Purperen Sofa (The Purple Sofa, 1986), recorded for the CD Bospaadje Konijnenhol I (Forest Path Rabbit Hole, 1991).

Instant Composers Pool


When the Amsterdam Bimhuis is subject to extensive alterations, it continues its programming elsewhere in the city. Thus bassist Ernst Glerum is given a carte blanche in the courtyard of the Amsterdam Historical Museum. He decides to form a string trio, with cellist Ernst Reijseger and Maurice Horsthuis. The group is simply called the Amsterdam String Trio, and in the course of its existence Horsthuis becomes the principal supplier of the ensemble's compositions. Having produced one LP and one CD the three musicians eventually part ways. The theater company Zuidelijk Toneel Globe asks Horsthuis to compose music for the theater production Moby Dick, which is premiered at the 1984 Holland Festival. It turns out to be a gigantic flop, and Horsthuis receives a lot of flak.

Ernst Glerum Ernst Reijseger


Pianist Guus Janssen includes Horsthuis in his new septet, and this edition of the group records the LP 85....86 for the Claxon label in Augustus and December 1986.


Maurice Horsthuis takes part in the international October Meeting at the Bimhuis and various other venues. He can be heard in Butch Morris's Fall Conduction 7 and in a large orchestra which performs music by Misha Mengelberg at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. The Bimhuis's artistic director, Huub van Riel, also invites him for the second edition of the Meeting in 1991.


In order to have his theater music performed as he envisioned it, in concert ('without having actors disturbing it with their words and gestures' in the composer's words), Horsthuis founds his own orchestra, called Amsterdam Drama. It features a 19 piece string section, four woodwinds, six brass, harp, cimbalom and vocals. The members of the orchestra are recruited from both the improvised and composed music worlds. The group has a life of five years and releases three CDs.


The Amsterdam String Trio reconvenes. They record their third album for the Winter & Winter label. In 2002 they participate in a project with the Nederlands Jeugd Strijkorkest (Dutch Youth String Orchestra), resulting in the CD Lente In De Werkplaats (Spring In The Workplace).


In the Amsterdam venue De Badcuyp Horsthuis starts a new ensemble, consisting of strings exclusively. It operates in various versions (sometimes including as many as sixteen musicians) under the name Elastic Jargon. In 2007 an eleven piece group records a first CD, released by the DATA label. Eventually an eight piece ensemble remains, consisting of three violins, two violas, two cellos, double bass and electric guitar.


Guitarist Paul Pallesen includes Horsthuis in his band Bite the Gnatze, which bridges the gap between folk music and improvised music.

Bite The Gnatze

2004 - 2010

A new CD by Elastic Jargon, entitled Slang, is released by DATA in 2010, including a special appearance by the American violinist Mark Feldman.

Discography Maurice Horsthuis

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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