Anthon van der Horst was born on June 20, 1899 in Amsterdam and died on March 7, 1965 in Hilversum.
His father Hendrik was organist and conductor of an amateur orchestra. At age four, Anthon and Hendrik played the romantic symphonic repertoire with four hands on piano. The great musical talent of Anthon was soon evident.
In 1915, Anthon van der Horst started to study composition with Bernard Zweers and organ and piano with Jean Baptiste Charles de Pauw at the Amsterdam Conservatory. He graduated cum laude in his organ studies.
He was a famous organist at home and abroad, mainly due to his concerts. At age fifteen, Van der Horst became the organist of the Walloon Church in Amsterdam. He had also been an organist at the English Church in Amsterdam (1918-1941), the Nederlandse Protestanten Bond (Dutch Federation of Protestants) in Hilversum (1944-1955), the Big Church in Naarden (1955-1964). Moreover, he participated in the furst Dutch improvisationconcert in the Dom Church Utrecht (1938) and made concert tours to a.o. Venezuela, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.
In 1921, Van der Horst was involved in the foundation of the Amsterdam Music Lyceum, where he was also appointed as a lecturer. Six years later, he became director of the Hilversum Music Lyceum. In 1935, Van der Horst is appointed as head teacher of organ at the Amsterdam Conservatory. A few years later, he was also appointed as head teacher choral and orchestral conducting. He continued to hold this position, until shortly before his death.
In 1931, Anthin van der Horst became the conductor of the Dutch Bach Society. Under his leadership, the annual performances of the ‘St. Matthew Passion’ and the ‘Hohe Messe’ by Johann Sebastian Bach in Naarden grew into an institution of Dutch musical life. He continued to conduct these concerts until just before his death.
Nevertheless, he believed composing was the most important expression of his musical talent. He wrote more than a 100 works, extensive compositions for orchestra, choir and orchestra, songs, organ works and chamber music.
In the musical language of Anthon van der Horst, an eight tone scale plays an important role, the Modus conjunctus, which was employed for the first time in the ‘Suite in modo conjunctio‘ (1943). Van der Horst’s interest for organ constrcution and contemporary experiments in the area of acoustics and physics of music made him obviously interested in the ideas of Adriaan Fokker and his 31-tone organ (‘Suite voor 31-toonsorgel‘, 1953).
In 1919, Van der Horst received the Prix d’Excellence for organ, as the first in the Netherlands to do so. For his merit as interpreter and expert on liturgical music of Bach, the University of Groningen gave him an honorary doctorate in theology in 1948. Two years later, he was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau.
Gert Oost finished the biography “Anthon van der Horst 1899-1965. Leven en werk” in 1992 (Canaletto, Alphen aan den Rijn).