Classical and contemporary classical music
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (May 1562 – October 16, 1621) was a Dutch composer, organist, and pedagogue whose work straddled the end of the Renaissance and beginning of the Baroque eras. Sweelinck was a master improviser, and acquired the informal title of the "Orpheus of Amsterdam". Over 70 keyboard works of his have survived, and many of them may be similar to the improvisations that residents of Amsterdam around 1600 were likely to have heard. Even his vocal music, which is more conservative than his keyboard writing, shows a striking rhythmic complexity and an unusual richness of contrapuntal devices.
His influence was international. Some of his music appears in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, which otherwise mainly contains the work of English composers. Sweelinck wrote variations on John Dowland's internationally famous Lachrimae Pavane, and John Bull, the English keyboard composer, wrote a set of variations on a theme of Sweelinck, indicating the close connection between the different schools of composition across the North Sea.
Jacob van Eyck (ca. 1590–1657) was a blind recorder and organ virtuoso, who composed a unique collection of flute music.
Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer (1692–1766) was an accomplished baroque composer, whose work Concerti Armonici erroneously was attributed to Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Igor Stravinsky used Unico's music for Pulcinella.
Alphons Diepenbrock (September 2, 1862 in Amsterdam - April 5, 1921). He created a musical idiom which, in a highly personal manner, combined 16th-century polyphony with Wagnerian chromaticism, to which in later years was added the impressionistic refinement that he encountered in Debussy's music.
Willem Pijper (1894–1947) is generally considered one of the most important figures in modern Dutch music. Between 1918 and 1922 he grew into one of the more advanced composers in Europe. In each successive work he went a step further and, from 1919, Pijper's music can be described as atonal. However, Pijper remained a composer of strong emotional character, to which his Third Symphony (1926) bears witness. In Pijper's later works the harmonic expression seems at times to approach monotonality. As a teacher Pijper had a great influence on modern Dutch music, teaching many prominent Dutch composers of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. He was senior master of instrumentation in the Amsterdam Conservatoire, and from 1930 until his death in 1947 he was Head of the Rotterdam Conservatoire.
Ton de Leeuw (born Rotterdam, 16 November 1926 - died Paris, 31 May 1996) is known for his experiments with microtonality. He wrote one opera, Antigone (1990–1991).
Lex van Delden (1919–1988) was an important composer.
Louis Andriessen (born Utrecht: June 6, 1939) is a composer whose early works show experimentation with various contemporary trends: post war serialism (Series, 1958), pastiche (Anachronie I, 1966–67), and tape (Il Duce, 1973). Andriessen's mature music combines the influences of Stravinsky and American minimalism. His harmonic writing eschews the consonant modality of much minimalism, preferring post war European dissonance, often crystallised into large blocks of sound. Large-scale pieces such as De Staat [‘Republic’] (1972–76), for example, are influenced by the energy of the big band music of Count Basie and Stan Kenton and the repetitive procedures of Steve Reich, both combined with bright, clashing dissonances. Andriessen's music is thus anti-Germanic and anti-Romantic, and marks a departure from post war European serialism and its offshoots. He has also played a role in providing alternatives to traditional performance practice techniques, often specifying forceful, rhythmic articulations, and amplified, non-vibrato, singing. Other notable works include Workers Union (1975), a melodically indeterminate piece "for any loud sounding group of instruments"; Mausoleum (1979) for 2 baritones and large ensemble; De Tijd [‘Time’] (1979–81) for female singers and ensemble; De Snelheid [‘Velocity’] (1982-3), for 3 amplified ensembles; De Materie [‘Matter’] (1984–88) a large four part work for voices and ensemble; collaborations with filmmaker and librettist Peter Greenaway on the film M is for Man, Music, Mozart and the operas Rosa: A Horse Drama (1994) and Writing to Vermeer (1998); and the recent La Passione (2000–02) for female voice and ensemble.
Significant composers after Andriessen include Klaas de Vries (b. 1944), Jacob Ter Veldhuis, a.k.a. JacobTV (b. 1951), Guus Janssen (b. 1951) and Cornelis de Bondt (b. 1953).