Robert Zuidam

Dutch composer and freelance essayist Robert Zuidam was born in Gouda on 23 September 1964. He studied composition with Philippe Boesmans and Klaas de Vries at the Conservatory of Rotterdam, and with Oliver Knussen and Lukas Foss at Tanglewood, where he was awarded the Koussevitzky Composition Prize. Over the years he has returned to Tanglewood a number of times as composer, artist-in-residence and teacher. He has also taught composition at the Conservatory of Utrecht, and was Erasmus Visiting Professor at Harvard Univerity.

Vocal music, more particularly music theatre, forms the core of Zuidam's compositional output. It was Hans Werner Henze who made Zuidam aware of his potential as an opera composer and librettist, by commissioning him to create a full-length opera for the 1994 Munich Biennale für Neues Musiktheater. This resulted in Freeze, an opera based on the Patricia Hearst-kidnap, with soprano Susan Narucki in the leading role. It prompted Klaus Umbach of Der Spiegel to label Zuidam as 'ein genialischer Hun'.

A second opera, Rage d'amours, was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was premiered in August 2003 at Tanglewood, by Lucy Shelton, Rochelle Bard and Amy Blake. The press responded on this occasion with enthusiasm as well. Rage d'amours, which portrays the turbulent relationship of Johanna the Insane (Juana la Loca) and Philip the Handsome, received its European premiere in June 2005 at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, in a double-bill with Zuidam's McGonagall-Lieder, with Claron McFadden, Barbara Hannigan and Young-Hee-Kim as Johanna the Insane, staged by Guy Cassiers. Rage d'amours was awarded the Kees van Baaren-prize.

Since then, numerous operas and music theatre productions have followed, most recently Hercules, a soldier's opera, premiered at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in September 2019, featuring baritone Bastiaan Everink and soprano Annemarie Kremer.

Robert Zuidam has also composed a wide array of works for orchestra, ensemble and soloists, and he has received commissions from the Michael Vyner Trust, the Japan-Netherlands Society, the Jheronimus Bosch Foundation and the Boston Symphony Orchestra through generous donations by Patricia Plum-Wylde. He currently lives and works in Belgium.


A selection of articles about Robert Zuidam

Ensemble. Atmosphere and Precision - Mike Wheeler listens to Dutch pianist Hannes Minnaar