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“In Beweging” means something like ‘moving’. The history of Dutch electronic music is mainly one of moving around with studios.

In the early fifties Walter Maas (left) invited Dr. Werner Meyer Eppler to give some lectures about electronic music. His visit made a real impact, already in 1954 the first primitive studio was build in Hilversum; Nederlandse Radio Unie (Dutch Radio Union - NRU). Supervisor was Henk Badings and people like Peter Schat worked there. Badings produced his radiophonic play in the NRU: Orestes. He received the Prix Italia for it in 1954 and Ton de Leeuw finished his radioplay Hiob (Job) and received the reward as well but two years later. Ton de Leeuw was very much influenced by the new stream: Musique Concrète. But that style for some reasons didn’t fit into the Dutch musical landscape. Under influence of ‘De Stijl’ freeing the image of its mass leas to a new montage of reality.
In 1955 NRU decided to stop with the electronic studio. Lucky a few month after the decision was made clear leading producer of various electronic gear, Philips, Eindhoven, opened their laboratory NAT-lab (NATuurkundig Laboratorium – Research Laboratories ) for electronic music under guidance of Walter Maas and engineer Roelof Vermeulen. It was a gesture to Badings so he could finish Cain & Abel for Het Nederlands Ballet (Dutch Ballet). Although Philips had no intention to continue with the studio after the play was finished, it slowly expanded in a more permanent studio. Under the guidance of Badings. But in 1960 the complete studio was given to the Utrecht University. At that time Ton de Leeuw, Tom Disselvelt, Rudolf Escher and Dick Raaijmakers were working with the equipment. The reason Philips closed the studio was that it didn’t produce any successful records. Their view of popular electronic music didn’t match reality. Unfortunately they had no idea or vision about the serious electronic music.
On the other hand they gave it a try with a single by a certain Kid Baltan. Behind this name no one other than Dick Raaijmakers is hidden. Raaijmakers nick-name was Kid Baltan whereby Baltan comes from Natlab (anagram). His Song of the Second Moon and Colonel Bogey were the first ever commercial released compositions in the genre. Two other compositions exist: Night Train Blues (a rejected tearjerker) and Mechanical Motions (functional music…).

In between Philips was busy with its Pavilion at the 1958 World Fair. No one less then Le Corbusier (for the building) and Edgard Varèse assisted by Iannis Xenakis got the task to create a future view. Varèse Poème Electronique was the result. Not that everybody was satisfied with the results. But in the context and the time it is well done and still a remarkable composition. At the time over 2 million people visited the pavilion.
Meanwhile Walter Maas funded the Contactorgaan Electronische Muziek – CEM (Organisation for Electronic Music (1954). While most composers of electronic music now were at work at NAT-lab, CEM started a studio at the School for Technics (TH) Delft in 1957. Ten composers show up at the studio, including Jan Boerman. The music coming out of the CEM studio sounds more harsh and up to date compared to NAT-lab.
In 1959 it suddenly is over with the two studios. Philips closed his studio and moved the studio almost complete to the Rijksuniversiteit (State University) Utrecht. The CEM people who would loved to have the NAT-lab machines are angry and out of that anger they also close their studio.
But Walter Maas is still active and reacts with a revolutionary move: under auspices of CEM, which he funded after all, he builds a studio in the garden pavilion of Stichting Gaudeamus (which represents the classical musicians) in BIlthoven. Maas has lots of connection and in no time at all the studio is equipped with a lot and modern equipment. The studio is checked out by Karlheinz Stockhausen and found to be OK! German composer Gottfried Michael Koenig is asked to be the new director. CEM studio grows fast and is very popular.

In Utrecht things don’t go well. Henk Badings is asked to be director of the new studio which is named STEM – Studio voor Elektronische Muziek (studio for electronic music – STEM also means voice). Badings isn’t very popular, his view and attitude is seen as negative. At the moment Badings accepted a new job in Germany in 1964 and couldn’t be in Utrecht anymore he is fired,
Composers Jan Boerman and Dick Raaijmakers were a little bit frustrated at all the turmoil in the two studios they worked in and the two started their own private studio.
After he heard Badings was fired Walter Maas steps in action once again. Koenig, with his successes around CEM, is asked to become the new director of STEM. His new task is to make STEM an institute with international allure. In 1967 STEM got a new name: Instituut voor Sonologie – Institute for Sonology. At the end of the same year the Institute flourishes as a new computer is delivered: the huge PDP-15, developed by the American DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation). THE PDP (left) gives the institute not only a new direction in music (computer) but also attracted lots of composers. The PDP is enormous, its technician sometimes even disappears in the instrument. At the institute people like Frits Weiland, Stan Tempelaars and Werner Kaegi are working on their compositions.
But success doesn’t last forever. The different views from Koenig, Frits Wieland and Werner Kaegi often collide and no new steps to modernize the studio are developed. Early eighties the instruments and working view of Institute has become obsolete. The Conservatory of the Hague is interested and in 1986 the complete studio moves to a new town once again. They are welcomed by a very happy Dick Raaijmakers.

In the same year STEIM (Studio voor Elektro Instrumentale Muziek – Studio for Electro Instrumental Music) is established- again - in Amsterdam by Michel Waisvisz. The intention is to produce live electronic music. The start in 1969 was nothing more than rebellious in setting up a new organisation which competes with the existing conservative organisations. To make things more complicated, most members are classical trained or jazz musicians. Most remarkable production of STEIM is the opera Reconstruction. The double-lp on STEIM001 has become a collector’s item. During the live performance the electronics were hardly audible. Dick Raaijmakers and Konrad Boehmer gave direction to the new institute. Composer Peter Schat was the artistic leader. There was a lot going in in the offices of STEIM, they also moved frequently, but hardly any music occured on stage. The ongoing discussions are mostly about politics and money. At last Michel Waisvisz is appointed new director and he is the saviour of STEIM. His most important view is to combine men and machine. Waisvisz developed his Kraakdoos (crackle box) and later on de Handschoen (the glove). Both ‘instruments’ are controlled by moving the fingers. His theatre performances were spectacular. STEIM also developed all kinds of software, but the firm is too small to keep up with the tides of the electronic time.

Early seventies more and more studios were open for composers and creative minds. Cor Doesburg got the job to take stock of all studios. Twenty two in total, far more than necessary. Not all those studios had the money nor the equipment to realise their goals. But as time goes by more and more studios were closed or moved or started to cooperate with the better equipped ones. But when also the leading figures in those studios leave one by one they more or less dissolve. The studio in Amsterdam closes in 1993. Soon thereafter the CEM studios is closed also. One of the most important reason is the fact that the Dutch government only wanted to give a grant to STEIM.
But there is news on the horizon. In 1990 the HKU (School for Higher Education Utrecht) starts e new direction: CMI – Centrum voor Computers Muziek en Informatica (Centre for Computers, Music and Computer Science). It’s the time of the first Apple personal computers. At present CMI is named KMT (Kunst, Media en Technologie – Art, Media & Technology).

Today there or four places for electronic music. The studio in The Hague, the former studio of Ton Bruynèl in Rotterdam, the former studio of Ton de Leeuw in Amsterdam and WORM, also in Rotterdam. WORM is the place where the former CEM studio was rebuild. WORM is a place for Avant Garde arts.
And there were of course the private studios. Most people are mentioned above, but Ton Bruynèl always had his own studio. Bruynèl is interested in sound exploration. The machines he needed could only be bought by working at an assembly line for months. His long soundscapes with a kind of witty humour gave him the name of being a surrealistic composer.

During the years the landscape of electronic music became more and more diffused. In 1995 NEAR (Nederlands Elektro-Akoestisch Repertoirecentrum – Dutch Electro Acoustic Repertoire Centre) started. They released records by various people who were active with pure electronic music or combinations of it with more common instruments, like the works of Michel van der Aa. Under guidance of mainly Kees Tazelaar beautiful overviews of Dutch Electronic Music were released, amongst his own. In 2008 NEAR was hosted under the big umbrella of the MCN (Muziek Centrum Nederland – Music Centre Netherlands). The last move was more or less killing the recent developments, but lucky for us Basta Music continued the release of important works and beautiful boxes.
BVHaast, the publishing house of jazz musician Willem Breuker, always had a weakness for electronic music. They started a series, later to be released as a boxset: Acousmatrix. The box futured mainly European composers: Dhomont, Maderne, Berio, Boehmer, Pousseur, Ferrari, Koenig and the WDR-studios. They also released the small overview His Masters Noise (works by Xenakis, Varèse, Ligeti, Barrett, Boehmer). It was the start of a new sublabel, only to release two more discs of Roger Doyle. Recently the electronic path was found again with CD’s of Wouters Snoei and Kristofer Zegers. The discs were released in cooperation with MCN, which now had seen the light. It should be the start of a new series but the last release was some time ago.

Again in cooperation with MCN a double cd, Anthology of Dutch Electronic Music 1999-2010 was released. There are some interesting pieces on it, but my problem with most of these compositions is that they don’t seem new, fresh compared to the older electronics. But maybe time will tell. The set accompanies a book written by Jacqueline Oskamp: Onder Stroom * (Under Current) which gives a lot of details of the history of Dutch electronic music. Basta Record boss Jeroen van der Schaaf suggested the idea to release two more overviews of Dutch electronic music doen by Kees Tazelaar in the near future.
(* It was not my guide for this page, but I looked up some things more than often).

So far about the studios for electronic music in the Netherlands. We never had the kind of popular electronic pop music as German bands as Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze. There were groups experimenting with sounds, Supersister often had long pieces with interruptions of a kind of musique concrete, but that was all. Nowadays sound wizards, or DJ’s like Tiësto and Armin van Buuren or the most popular in the whole world. Electronic music? Yes, but it’s a complete different level. No abrasive sounds, but beats and eruptive sounds to get people on their feet and dance.

Nederlandse Radio Unie - part of the studio

 first ever released single with electronic music


Philips Pavilion at the World Fair - 1958

Bilthoven studio 1964: l-r Klaus Gorter, G.M. Koenig (sitting) and Jaap Vink.

Instituut voor Sonologie

Setup in Studio 1
STEIM - studio One

part of WORM Studio

KMT studio

Kees Tazelaar, head of the Institute of Sonology

The two disc set

Armin van Buuren