Sound Commitments: Avant-Garde Music and the Sixties

By Robert Adlington | Go to book overview
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Forms of Opposition
at the “Politiek-

Robert Adlington

On May 30, 1968, the front pages of Dutch newspapers were dominated by news from the French capital. Headlines read “Paris in Confusion” and “Resignation Expected”;1 following weeks of antigovernment strikes and protests in Paris, the overthrow of President Charles de Gaulle was widely predicted. That evening, a large audience assembled at the Carre; Theatre in Amsterdam for an event that became a landmark in the musical life of the city. The “politiek-demonstratief experimenteel concert” brought together a remarkable roster of musical talent. Leading young composers Peter Schat, Louis Andriessen, and Misha Mengelberg were each represented by a new work. Schat and Andriessen had already gained a reputation as foremost carriers of the avant-garde flame following their studies with (respectively) Pierre Boulez and Luciano Berio. Mengelberg held parallel careers as composer and jazz pianist: in the early sixties he took part in Fluxus performances in the Netherlands, and at the end of 1967 he had founded the pioneering improvisation collective, the Instant Composers Pool (ICP). Mengelberg’s collaborator in the ICP, the saxophonist and composer Willem Breuker—later to become perhaps the bestknown figure in Dutch jazz—played in the ad hoc “mobiel ensemble” assembled specially for the concert. Also among the performers were Reinbert de Leeuw, later internationally known as a concert pianist and conductor of the Schonberg and Asko Ensembles; Jan van Vlijmen, since 1967 co-principal at the Hague Conservatoire, and later to become director of both the Netherlands Opera (1985–87) and the


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Sound Commitments: Avant-Garde Music and the Sixties


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