Jurriaan Hendrik Andriessen (15 November 1925, Haarlem – 19 August 1996, The Hague) was a Dutch composer, whose father, Hendrik, brother Louis, and uncle Willem have also been notable composers.
Andriessen studied composition with his father Hendrik Andriessen and conducting with Willem van Otterloo at the Utrecht Conservatory, before moving to Paris where he studied with Olivier Messiaen.
In the early fifties, Jurriaan performed as a jazzpianist, named “Leslie Cool”. He started working as a musical consultant and composer at the “Haagse Comedie” in 1957. Besides his work as a composer Andriessen also worked as a conductor, often from his own work, and he directed a.o. concert performances and ballets for television.
Jurriaan had a variety of musical influences which he drew upon, including American film music, Aaron Copland’s ballets, folk music of various cultures, neoclassicism, and serialism; this eclecticism combined with his compositional skill made his writing well-suited to scoring dramatic works. His first stage composition was incidental music for “The Miraculous Hour”, a play premiered at the celebration of the 50th year of Queen Wilhelmina’s reign, in 1948. In 1954 the Haagse Comedie (now the Nationaal Toneel, or “National Theatre”) appointed him resident composer, where he wrote scores for Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, among numerous others.
His stay in the United States on a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship from 1949 to 1951 was a fruitful one for his orchestral writing, another notable area of his work; during this time he composed the Tanglewood Overture for Serge Koussevitsky, and the Berkshire Symphonies, later used as ballet music by George Balanchine. His compositions were commissioned for state celebrations, including the wedding and the coronation of Queen Beatrix and the silver jubilee of Queen Juliana.
In addition to the theatre works he is most noted for, Andriessen was also a prolific composer of chamber and vocal works, many of which were meant to be performed by amateurs; he has also been a director for television.
In his book “Nederlandse Muziek in de Twintigste Eeuw” [Dutch Music in the Twentieth Century], the musicologist Leo Samama evaluates Andriessen’s music as follows: “Most of the works of Juriaan Andriessen consist of music ‘à la manière de’ […] He was in fact able to playfully re-create any style and any technique […] As a composer of music for film, radio and television plays, and many other forms of occasional music, that is of course very useful.”
Jurriaan Andriessen was awarded the first Johan Wagenaar Prize with his work ‘The Miraculous Hour’. On commission by the city council of The Hague, Jurriaan composed the symphonic rhapsody ‘Thai’ on the occasion of the state visit of the King of Thailand in 1960, and was appointed Knight of the Order of the White Elephant. In 1972, Andriessen was appointed Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau For his achievements in the field of theater music.