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Theo Loevendie  |  Worklist  |  Audio  |  Johnny and Jones
Theo Loevendie

Theo Loevendie

Music and text form a unified whole, an inescapable story that runs in an hour and ten minutes from a light swing number entitled 'Be cool, be hot, but lock the door, be-doobie-da' and in which the original Johnny & Jones can be heard to the piece¹s terrible end. … Swing music returns throughout the entire opera, as if the listener must remember how everything could have been. It seizes the listener by the throat.
--Algemeen Dagblad, the Netherlands, on the opera Johnny &Jones

"But the two contemporary pieces really tickled the ear. Loevendie, a veteran jazz saxophonist with an experimental streak, was his own soloist in The 5 Drives - an extended improvisation, sometimes amazingly dextrous, elsewhere wacky and guttural ..."
-The Times (Richard Morrison), September 17 2007 
Recent and upcoming events
  • Jan. 24, 2007 -Trio Burlesco performs the Lerchen Trio, Amsterdam
  • Mar. 9-10, 2007 - Musikalische Jugend Österreichs, with staging by Annette Bieker of Theater Kontrapunkt Düsseldorf will perform the chamber version of Nachtegaal in Wien, Konzerthaus, Neuer Saal - Vienna
  • May 31, 2007 - Six Turkish Folk poems by the Axyz ensemble, Amsterdam
  • Sept. 15, 2007 - Theo Loevendie as soloist in Londen with the London Festival Orchestra in his composition for symphony orchestra and improvising musician The Five Drives
  • Oct. 7-10, 2007 - The Nightingale performed by members of het Gelders Orkest with Lieuwe Visser/narrator in 3 Dutch cities - Nigmege, Arnhem, Ede
As a jazz musician for over 15 years, Theo Loevendie (born in Amsterdam, 1930) performed at all of the most important European jazz festivals as alto and soprano saxophonist and as leader of combos and big bands. Today, as one of the Netherlands' most notable composers, he has received numerous important awards and has been a guest at the most prestigious New Music festivals.

In Loevendie's music, bright ostinato sound patches enter into a dynamic synthesis with jazz influences, in such works as Strides for piano and Laps, for large chamber ensemble. He has made use of free improvisation (Bons, a large chamber ensemble work from 1991) and non-European music (Six Turkish Folkpoems, 1977, Violin Concerto: Vanishing Dances, 1999) and quotes from other styles (in the operas Naima and Esmée). His opera Johnny & Jones (2001) moves effortlessly between his own composition and American jazz of the 30s and early 40s.

Rhythm and melody are key elements in Loevendie's music. Monodic melodies are masterfully embellished and then dissolved in a rich heterophony, as can be heard in Vanishing Dances, premiered by Isabelle van Keulen with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, David Zinman conducting. Stemming from the early impression made by Bach's organ fugues, counterpoint also colors his music, in canons (from the horn fanfares and choirs in Naima to the miniature for a music box in Roncanon), in the complex rhythmic and melodic patterns of the Six Turkish Folkpoems, and in the stratification of the bold large orchestra work Flexio, where various sound surfaces, each with its own movement and tonal color, move against each other, creating continually varying acoustic levels.

The element of theatre plays a large role in Loevendie's music. His best known work is the fairy tale The Nightingale for narrator and orchestra (also scored for narrator and "Histoire" ensemble), which has received numerous staged or semi-staged performances, to international acclaim. In addition, he has devoted a significant amount of his composition to opera. His chamber opera Gassir, the Hero (1990), debuted in Boston; Esmée (1995) premiered in Amsterdam, and has subsequently been performed in Berlin and Bielefeld. The chamber opera Johnny & Jones (like Esmée, based on actual events from World War II), premiered in the Holland Festival 2001.

Loevendie has made significant contributions to the chamber music repertoire over the last ten years, in such works as Cycles for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1992), Lerchen-Trio for clarinet, cello and piano, in memory of Olivier Messiaen (1992) and the piano trio Ackermusik (1997). Among his recent compositions are the Clarinet Concerto (2002) and the flute concerto Per quanti? 3 (2002). Loevendie has been teaching composition since 1970, and currently holds a position at the Conservatory of Amsterdam.

For more information on Theo Loevendie, please see the Peermusic Hamburg website: