Flothuis Cantus amoris

The Dutch composer and musicologist Marius Flothuis (1914-2001) was an important figure for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He was eighteen years old when he dared to criticise the orchestra’s programming in 1932, writing a letter eight pages long in which he argued for the removal of antiquated repertoire in favour of unknown older works and for a greater amount of new (Dutch) music. He was appointed as an assistant to the artistic direction of the orchestra five years later in 1937 and held this position until 1942, when he refused to become a member of the Kulturkammer during the occupation.

Flothuis’ work in the Dutch Resistance cost him dear; he was convicted of disloyalty and was imprisoned in Kamp Vught and in Sachsenhausen from 1943 until 1945. He picked up the threads of his former career once more in 1953 and he was artistic director of the Concertgebouw Orchestra from 1955 until 1974. He remained faithful to his artistic convictions from the 1930s, sometimes against the wishes of orchestral players and / or audience members. Strangely enough the Notenkrakers of 1969 (see the article on Louis Andriessen’s Mysteriën) seemed not to have been aware of his progressive artistic policy.

Flothuis wrote his Cantus amoris in 1978 after the death of his wife Roosje Voorzanger. It is composed for string orchestra, with a particularly important role for the violas: his late wife had played the viola. Flothuis’ music was always emotionally restrained and the audible emotion at the end of Cantus amoris is unique in his work. Flothuis was also taken aback when he realised that its opus number would be 78; this was the number of the hospital building where his wife had died and it was also 1978 — this could not be mere coincidence.

This performance of Cantus amoris was given in Flothuis’ memory to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth in October 2014.

Translation: Peter Lockwood