From Louis Andriessen, Ton Koopman, the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest, Within Temptation and DJ Tiësto to Frans Brüggen or Han Bennink and Wouter Hamel: Dutch music of every conceivable genre is well represented beyond the country’s borders.
The current music culture in the Netherlands is a result of a long history coupled with the recent past in which the differences between conventional ideas and contemporary styles fight it out in an exciting battle. From the very beginning the fighters for the old and new music have joined forces to resist the mainstream. Both camps challenged the nineteenth-century-style structure of musical society, with its insatiable appetite for the symphonies of Beethoven and Mahler. The end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s saw the emergence of Reinbert de Leeuw’s Schönberg Ensemble, the New Ensemble under Ed Spanjaard, Frans Brüggen’s Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra under Ton Koopman. Together with countless other ensembles, they have enriched the musical life of the Netherlands.
In the New YorkTimes the Instant Composers Pool, often called the ICP Orchestra, was recently hailed as the continuing flagship of the Dutch avant-garde. In the meantime, numerous current or former ICP musicians have achieved international success on their own merits. Saxophonist Ab Baars and trombonist Wolter Wierbos tour outside the Netherlands on a regular basis. And the young Wouter Hamel and British-Dutch Benjamin Herman have also achieved considerable success abroad.
Dutch pop music is just too good to be confined to its home in the Netherlands. Tiësto, Armin van Buuren and Within Temptation are success stories that form the tip of an iceberg of talent. DJ Tiësto has twice been chosen as the world’s best DJ, a title also awarded to Armin van Buuren.
And outside, or maybe even within, all these categories is André Rieu; without doubt the best-selling Dutch performer of all time.