Andriessen’s Dante-inspired piece received the 2011 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.
The composer was born in Utrecht, Holland, into a musical family. His father and brother were composers and his mother, a professional pianist.
In the 1950s, Andriessen’s brother returned from a stay in the United States with all types of American music. Andriessen was enthralled and began visiting the nearby U.S. Embassy audio library to hear more. Besides getting to know contemporary American composers, boogie-woogie and jazz, he also was influenced by Igor Stravinsky and other composers working in France.
Andriessen attended the Royal Conservatory in the Hague, where he experimented in serial music. After graduating, he studied with Italian composer Luciano Berio in Milan and Berlin. He soon became prominent in the European music scene, and developed his own instantly recognizable style.
His pieces for stage, orchestra, vocalists and piano now are performed worldwide.
He held the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall in 2009-10 and was named 2010 Composer of the Year by Musical America. Previously, he won the Matthijs Vermeulen Prijs, the 3M Music Award and the Edison Award and was honored by the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers.
“La Commedia” is Andriessen’s fourth opera and most ambitious creation. The Los Angeles Master Chorale and Los Angeles Philharmonic performed different parts of the opera — one in 2006 and another in 2007 — at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
An international cast and several of the Netherlands’ best vocal and instrumental groups performed the entire opera in 2008 at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam and again this year at Disney Concert Hall and Carnegie Hall.
Andriessen teaches music composition at the Royal Conservatory.