Douwe Eisenga

Composer

Author

About

After a short career in pop music, Douwe Eisenga studied composition at the Conservatory in Groningen (NL). Firmly shaken by all sorts of contemporary composing techniques, it took a while until Eisenga found his own sound after his study.

Around 2001 this own musical language developed rapidly, which resulted in the chamberopera Kabaal, the large-scale Requiem and the premiere of his Piano Concerto in Yokohama, Japan.

He worked with the writer David Mitchell for the project Cloud Atlas, and with theatre company Schweigman+ for the danceperformance Wiek.

Since 2010 his music attained more and more attention worldwide. Pianists as Jeroen van Veen (NL), Lisa Kaplan (US), Nicolas Horvath (FR) & Francesco di Fiore (IT), and harpist Assia Cunego (Germ) play Eisenga’s music in America, Canada, China and Europe. His Requiem was done again in Rumania, the Italian ensemble PADS recorded the album House of Mirrors and harpist Lavinia Meijer premiered several compositions. The Claudia Schreier Dance Company premiered the ballet Harmonic in NYC, followed by Charge and Pulse, all set on Eisenga’s music. In 2014 followed the music for The Writer, his Wife, her Mistress, performed by the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet. Follow-up projects were Momentum as part of the National Celebration of Liberation in 2015, the premiere of Bliss by Cello8tet Amsterdam and Echoes for the Belgian ensemble Origami and a mini-tour with the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble.

In 2017 the pianopiece For Mattia rose to no 53 in the Dutch Heart & Soul List, a list of the 300 most populair classical pieces, chosen by Dutch radiolisteners

Sheets

Interview

What does music mean to you personally?

Music is an addiction. I need my daily shots of grooves and rhythms. The recognition of rhythm & repetition is centered in the oldest parts of our brain. The reception of music is almost entirely physical for me.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

It might start with fantasy, with an idea that pops-up suddenly. But that idea is most of the time a bar or a few bars. Good music is also (for the most part) about structure, balance: each and every note on exactly the right place.

If you were not a professional musician, would would you have been?

I would have been teacher, teaching history or something, working with young people.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?

I don’t write classical music. My music is a sort of mix of Minimal, Rock and Baroque. It’s for a generation that grew up with pop and rock and happily jump from Purcell to Radiohead, from Bach to the Stones.

What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21 century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

In the last few decades a lot of composers have reconnected with their audience again. Writing music that is able to communicate. The area of hard-boiled avant-garde was necessary and we learned a lot of usable compositions-techniques from that period. But now it’s time for new music that is fresh and can be understand by the audience without having a degree in music theory.

When I say that classical music is searching for new ways or that the classical music is getting a new face, what would come to your mind?

The interest in the standard iron classical repertoire is declining, replaced by an interest in a mix of genres and that’s a good thing. It’s all about good music. Can be Bach, Stravinsky, Steve Reich, Arcade Fire, Balkan Beats or Indian raga’s.

Do you think that the classical musician today needs to be more creative? Whats the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

Creativity isn’t the sole property of musicians, writers or composers. Everyone has to be creative, dealing with daily regular life. And as in normal life, creativity is fueled by restrictions, in my case, following strict musical processes to build large musical structures.

Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generation into the classical music concerts? How will you proceed?

If you musicians stop playing over and over the musical language of two hundreds years ago and start promoting fresh and new music, your audience will change. Novels from ages ago are hardly read and no one complains. Why this focus on the standard classical evergreens? Let the interest in music develop as it is developing. There’s only one thing that is extremely important: musical education for kids and young adults. In the Netherlands schools are neglecting the importance of music more and more. Local music schools are closed. That’s a very bad thing. Playing a musical instrument, learning rhythms, playing together, enjoying new music (and again Balkan Folk Music isn’t a ‘lower’ genre than tunes from Bach), that all is so important for the development of young brains!

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have your favorite piece (written by you) How did you start working on it?

My favorite piece is almost always my latest piece. There’s no recipe for starting. I have a big box with compositional tools, which can be used all in different combination. Composing for me is serious business, a strange sort of mix between cerebral work and physical response. The music is highly structured but at the same time has to give me goose bumps or force me to jump & dance like a madman.

We, Moving Classics TV, love the combination of classical music with different disciplines: music and painting, music and cinematography, music and digital art, music and poetry. What do you think about these combinations?

I love writing for theater, film or dance, although I hardly initiate these kinds of projects my self.

Now it is a common practice in the media to talk that the classical music is getting into the consumption business, do you agree? We are speaking about the supply and demand rules and how to sell your “product” in your case your compositions. How do you see it?

Music has always been in the business. Bach was paid by the church, Haydn by the Esterházy’s. I had long talks with Philip Glass on several occasions and he loves the business part of being a composer. Business is also fun and perhaps demands for more creativity than the music it self.

What projects are coming up?

Next two big things (besides the remaking of the dance performance Wiek) is the live concert with the complete Music for Wiek with seven percussion players and 4 saxophone players and the premiere of large-scale The Wall Symphony, a symphony inspired by some bits of Pink Floyd’s epic album The Wall.