Hendrik Andriessen was born on September 17, 1892 in Haarlem (Netherlands). The organist Nico Andriessen and painter Gesina Vester were his parents. He was raised in an artistic environment. Of his six children, Juriaan, Caecilia, and Louis also became composers. He died on April 17, 1981 in Haarlem.
After the death of his father in 1913, Hendrik Andriessen is his successor as organist at St. Joseph’s Church. In that same period he starts writing his first compositions. Hendrik studied organ with Jean-Baptiste de Pauw and composition with Bernard Zweers at the Conservatory in Amsterdam.
As an organist and composer, he gave attention to both sacred and secular music. Hendrik also worked as a teacher in music theory and composition at the Conservatory in Amsterdam, and in organ and composition at the Catholic Music School in Utrecht. In 1934, Hendrik started to work as an organist at Utrecht Cathedral and in 1937 as director of the Utrecht Conservatory. During World War 2, he writes a book about César Franck. Despite an official ban on carrying out its work, Andriessen still ranked among the five most played Dutch composers, along with Johan Wagenaar, Henk Badings, Alphons Diepenbrock and Karel Mengelberg. In 1949, Hendrik Andriessen started to work as the director of the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.
A year later, he writes his first book about music, named “Over Muziek” (About music). In his next book “Muziek en Muzikaliteit” (1952), he expresses his opinion that music shouldn’t be related to the biographic history of the maker: “The artwork is a portrait of itself and nothing else.”
Andriessen’s musical language further embroiders on that of César Franck (another organist) and Albert Roussel with a variety of modern elements.”Bitonality (the simultaneous use of two different keys) plays a role in various of his later compositions, and themes built from the twelve tones in the octave reveal that Schoenberg’s ideas were not totally lost on him”. (Frits van der Waa in de Volkskrant) Andriessen was not a musical pioneer, but neither did he ignore innovation. His secular music is often described as reserved, but his sacred music is mildly innovative. Andriessen himself said: “I have never done my best for anything, not even for making new church music – though some say that I did some such thing. Well, I’m not so sure of that. I did only what I felt like doing”.
In 1950, Hendrik Andriessen received the Johan Wagenaar Prize. In 1961, he was awarded the Prof. van der Leeuw Prize and in 1962 the Sweelinck Prize.
One hundred years after his birth, the Hendrik Andriessen Centenary is celebrated throughout the Netherlands. During this Andriessen-year, the Haarlem Concertgebouw insert a chest sculpture of Henry at the age of 19.