Some words about my style.
1. Expressionism without pessimism
In 1971 I experienced a performance of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s opera ‘Die Soldaten’ by the Deutsche Oper am Rhein. The music reached deep into my soul and I was literally perplexed. How was this kind of music possible? Such expression of passion, refinement of sound and fantasy within an unusual atmosphere of fate and sorrow!
In the following years I attempted to create my own music in this expressionistic language but soon noticed something was amiss. I came to realize, despite my deep emotional bond with the music of Wagner, Berg, Schoenberg and Zimmermann, that I was just not German and as an artist did not belong to their world. Instead, my expressionism was of another kind, rooted in the Dutch cabaret: the contortion of reality through irony and caricatures, anarchical humour as serious play and playful seriousness.
2. We need the revolution of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in music!
As student of composition, I acquainted myself with the music and theoretical articles of Stockhausen and Boulez . A new language was born in me.
Yet, though I had interest in and even awe for this new language, I felt no connection with its expression. To me, as to many other people, it is too cold, too conceptual and often unbearably boring to sit through.
My music found its source in my youth, where classical music represented consolation, beauty and story. Perhaps even consolation for the loss of my young father.
I have never been able or willing to renounce this source and tried over the next few years to offer it a place in my style. This proved difficult because it is deeply anti-avant-garde and I had no desire to cut ties with contemporary music or the world around me. So what was I to do?
Eventually, around my 30th birthday, I made a decision and for a long time afterwards called it post-modernism as I felt it inspired by modern architecture and the Memphis style (Milan) of design.
My work is thus born out of a natural, spontaneous, improvisatory-like relationship with the material, a little like a musical child. At the same time I am well aware of what I am creating and almost of its own accord my music has developed itself into a layered style. At the surface (where it is immediately perceptible) it is simple and natural (and thereby recognizable). Underneath, the layers become progressively structured.
If art is the mirror of its age, then the modernistic quest for purity of style has failed. We live in Pluramon, the multicultural empire in which the complete harvest of 2000 years of music can be found in your CD collection.
I have seen this process develop during my lifetime and it is one of the most striking changes of the past fifty years. Heinrich Schenker has compared style-purity with monotheism and I believe he has a point. However, our world is not monotheistic but is a dazzling amount of insights from the most profound to the most insane.
In this, there is something genuinely humane: passions and endeavours have remained the same, but the means have changed.
I find myself swimming in a sea of opinions and yet am at the heart of human energy.