Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2009
Now that I've reached sixty, it is time to enter the nineteenth century– Andriessen (2002a: 283; 2002b: 272).
The Trilogy is very classical, if not romantic in its [use of] leitmotifs. And with this you create memories of earlier moments. It is the most vulgar, but also the clearest, way of creating relationships– Andriessen (2002a: 283; 2002b: 285).
Carnival brings together, unites, weds and combines the sacred with the profane, the lofty with the lowly, the great with the insignificant, the wise with the stupid …– Bakhtin (1973: 101).
After decades of proclaiming his anti-Romantic stance, Andriessen's declaration that he is “ready to enter” the nineteenth century catches one by surprise. This attitude does not indicate a radical shift in aesthetic orientation but rather evidence of his maturity as a composer in being able to confront the musical ghosts of the past. More specifically, it reflects his interest in exploring the roles of metaphor and narrative in music, although not by any means in the sense of a conventionalized program or plot. Works from 1996 to 2004 reveal Andriessen's growing preoccupation with the subject of death; the contemplation of death (and consequently of the meaning of life) becomes a metaphysical quest to be approached from different cultural and historical perspectives. Andriessen juxtaposes texts and musical signifiers as memento mori, objects that allude to death at the iconic and symbolic levels of generalization, much like the vanitas (a still life consisting of a collection of objects) that symbolizes the brevity of human life and the transience of earthly pleasures.