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Micha Hamel


08-07-1970 - current


componist, contemporary classical music, dirigent, lyricist


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Micha Hamel

Micha Hamel knew that he wanted to become a composer when at age 14 he saw the film Amadeus. After a year as a philosophy student at the University of Amsterdam he followed a course of study in composing and conducting. He has conducted many concerts since 1993, initially performing ...
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componist, dirigent, lyricist

Mentioned in the biography of

1969   Marcel Beekman
1991   Hexagon Ensemble
2002   Ruud van Eeten
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Biography Micha Hamel

Micha Hamel knew that he wanted to become a composer when at age 14 he saw the film Amadeus. After a year as a philosophy student at the University of Amsterdam he followed a course of study in composing and conducting. He has conducted many concerts since 1993, initially performing modern music for orchestra and large ensemble and gradually adding Classical and Romantic works and choral music and opera. His first published poetry appeared in 2003 in the literary magazine De Gids. His music has been performed by such prominent Dutch orchestras and ensembles as The Hague Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rotterdam Phiharmonic Orchestra, The Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra and The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Schönberg Ensemble, Ives Ensemble and Slagwerkgroep Den Haag. In a composer brochure published by Donemus in 2000, Paul Janssen had the following to say of Hamel's music: “Always in search of stylistic marriages deemed impossible, always in search of surprising instrumental combinations, and always formulated so that the listener can follow the discourse. With attentiveness, with a smile, filled with horror, every composition by Hamel is a mild stimulation of the senses (…). All to create a new meaningful cohesion, that is the hypothesis of Micha Hamel.”


Micha Hamel is born on July 8 in Amsterdam.


After first playing the piano and oboe, he takes private lessons in composition and orchestral conducting with Huub Kerstens. Then, on the invitation of Reinbert de Leeuw, he takes master classes with Morton Feldman and John Cage.


Hamel participates in the International Dance Course for Professional Choreographers and Composers.


Hamel subsequently receives two commissions: one from the London dance company VOLTaire for a work for the Brighton Festival, the other from the Mark Baldwin Dance Company. From this year on he guest conducts the radio orchestras and smaller ensembles and the Netherlands Chamber Choir.


He completes his studies at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague (composition with Diderik Wagenaar and Konrad Boehmer, and orchestral conducting with Ed Spaanjaard and Jac van Steen). In a Vrij Nederland interview (2002), Hamel says he was strongly influenced by Boehmer: “He taught me that composing is a real trade, that you ultimately simply have to sit down and write.” He later participates in the composition class at the Tanglewood Music Center, studying with Mario Davidovsky and Louis Andriessen. He is awarded the Encouragement Prize for Composition for his piece 'Fructus' (1993).


Hamel writes his first orchestral piece, 'Wintergezicht' [Winter View] which he will later revise. He conducts its premiere at the Muziektheater in Amsterdam on June 15 in a performance by the Dutch National Ballet and Dutch National Ballet Orchestra. Toer van Schayk is the choreographer. The work is based on several chords from the opening song of Franz Schubert's 'Winterreise', 'Gute Nacht'.


The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra receives the Bernard Haitink Grant, after which chief conductor Edo de Waart appoints Hamel as assistant conductor, a position he holds for two seasons. He also works with the conductors Peter Eötvös, Essa-Pekka Salonen and Claus Peter Flor. In an interview in Vrij Nedertland (2002) he says that in these two years he “developed immense respect for his [De Waart's] honest way of music-making”.

Edo de Waart


Hamel receives the Elisabeth Everts Prize, a biennial award for talented musicians. For the Kirill Kondrashin conductors competition, he writes 'Vuurdoop' [Baptism of Fire]. According to Paul Janssen, Hamel “wants for once in his life to write a sound that listener and musician can lean against, so to speak. The thick, meaningful sound becomes the main premise of the entire piece. The sound-eros is a principle trait of Hamel's work”.


Hamel receives the Kersjes-van de Groenekan Prize, permitting him, among other things, to study with Mark Elder. He performs for the first time with Frankfurt's EnsembleModern.


In October, Hamel – together with Guus Janssen – is the central composer at the four-day Festival in de Branding, which surveys his most important works to date.

2000 - 2002

Hamel is the chief conductor of the North Holland Philharmonic Orchestra. For the International Vocal Competition 2002, he writes the competition piece 'Triptyque', on a text by Apollinaire. He dedicates the work to the literature critic and writer Michaël Zeeman.


Hamel conducts the Nationale Reisopera production of 'King Priam' (1985) by Michael Tippett. He publishes eight poems in the literary magazine De Gids, followed by another six poems in the January issue of 2004.


On June 8 Hamel conducts the premiere of Jan van de Putte's 'Wet Snow' in a Nationale Reisopera production at the Holland Festival. The publishing house Augustus issues his first book of poetry, 'Alle enen opgeteld' [All the ones counted up]. The collection is well-received in the press and is nominated for the Cees Buddingh Prize (Society of Dutch Literature). Hamel receives the Lucy B.-van der Hoogt Prize for this debut. At the Kurt Thomas course for choral conductors, Hamel gives a master class.


He makes his debut with the Hallé Orchestra (Manchester) performing mostly French music (Hector Berlioz and Maurice Ravel). At the end of the year, his second poetry collection, 'Luchtwortels' [Air Roots] is published by Augustus. It brings him a nomination for the J.C. Bloem Prize and the Jo Peters poetry award.


Hamel sits with Sander van Maas (professor of musicology/philosophy) and Bob Zimmerman (composer/arranger) on the jury of the Prijsvraag Beginnende Componisten [Competition for Budding Composers] (VSB Poetry Prize).


His tragic operetta 'Snow White' (2007) is premiered by the Nationale Reisopera. He becomes the artistic director of the Netherlands Music Days.


In January, Augustus publishes his third book of poetry, 'Nu je het vraagt' [Now that you ask]. In September Micha Hamel starts his readership New Music Theatre at Codarts in Rotterdam.

Discography Micha Hamel

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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