“Polyphony”……..and my new string quartet…..

Poulenc and Satie

Poulenc and Satie

One of the nice aspects of being a composer is that you are quite often at home and can therefore do several things at once. I have sometimes tried to see just how many simultaneous activities I can combine. On the way to the computer this morning (in order to gather some random numbers – I have a program for that), with a sketch in my hand for the new string quartet, I remembered to call the harpsichordist Gerard van Vuuren to apologize for not accompanying him to the movies yesterday to see a Garbo film. In the middle of that we got on to the subject of Poulenc’s La Grenouillere song which I like very much and which I am referring to in the quartet. He emailed me the text, which I couldn’t find. It’s by Apollinaire and Gerard is an Apollinaire fan.

Suddenly I remembered that I had to turn the onions in the kitchen, so I excused myself. In the end I got the random numbers I wanted and returned to my desk. So by my count, that was three tasks completed in a “polyphony” of activity.

My friend John at school, with whom I had a (sadly) brief fling-ette had an ambition to fart, shit, come, burp, spit, cough and pee all at the same time. That’s as impossible to perform as a Xenakis piano part, but it’s worth contemplating anyway. Once, at a School Speech Day, John told me about another fantasy of his. On such occasions he liked to imagine that all the dignitaries sitting on the platform were actually sitting on the toilet. We began to laugh and couldn’t stop. He-he.

Lunch in the Chinese quarter



We met up with a friend on Monday at De Waag op de Nieuwmarkt and ate round the corner at the Nam Kee on the Zeedijk.

We discussed Chendra’s video clips on YouTube. My favourite is Lamento de Pollux (Chendra is himself dancing in that one) with very effective music by Santiago Lanchares. It’s a work-in-progress, but already excellent. I told Chendra that the clip reminded me of Un Chien Andalou. But when we looked at the film later (and also at L’Age d’Or) he didn’t see any resemblance to his work and I couldn’t find the words to explain what I meant………whoops.

After lunch we went back to the Nieuwmarkt and sat at a terrasje drinking coffee. Spring has arrived you see.

Then we walked over to the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ and picked up a brochure for next season. I like that building very much and the positioning there by the water is just great.

Dinner at Jeroen’s house on Easter Sunday

Brilliant meal at Jeroen’s pretty house in a cute village situated on the river Vecht. Me, Ananda, Chendra, Jeroen of course (who was cook) and Iman Ahimsa, a photographer. They got on to the subject of China and then Feng Shui. I was just “taking notes”. A classical music station was was playing in the background, so Ananda and I were meanwhile enjoying recognizing things as they came along. It’s a good game. Some Star Trek music appeared (obviously scraping through into the classical music category) and then a marvelous choral piece by John Rutter which we hunted for when we got back to Amsterdam. The subject of Lounge Music came up and the Buddha Bar in Paris. So Jeroen put on a compilation CD released under their brand name. Nice, but, oh dear, I’m pretty sure that’s not on my list of “things you must like” – the one I mislaid several years ago.

Together with Jeroen Kohnstamm to Het Nationale Ballet

We went with Jeroen, a friend of Chendra’s, to the ballet in the Muziektheater. I like that theatre very much. Het Nationale Ballet is a really good company. I enjoyed the evening. Particularly an excellent electronic score by Jacob ter Veldhuis, who I’ve sometimes met at Roderik and Annelie de Man’s house.

Choreographers go on trying to work with traditional ballet vocabulary, just as we are still trying to do something with violins and cellos. That’s not an exact parallel, but….the point is you get that sometimes disconcerting combination of old and new.

Dinner at Dantzig aan de Amstel next door. Meat! Mmm!