Merlijn Twaalfhoven

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A Picture of dark haired man.
Merlijn Twaalfhoven by Poike Stomps

Merlijn Twaalfhoven (born February 14, 1976, Wapserveen) is a Dutch composer.[1] He graduated from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in 2003. Twaalfhoven is internationally active in creating innovative projects and writing new music for orchestras, choirs and chamber music groups. He collaborated with Toneelgroep Amsterdam,[2] Holland Festival, Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest,[3] the Dutch National Ballet[4][5] and Springdance festival,[6] among many others. With his non profit organization La Vie Sur Terre[7] he frequently produces large scale projects on location with local artists and musicians, for example in Cyprus, Japan, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Syria, and Central Europe.[8] Twaalfhoven is a member of the Alpbach Laxenburg Group.[9][10] He was a speaker about the role of arts in conflict areas at Aspen Institute Washington and Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, CO.[11][12] In 2014 and 2015, Merlijn Twaalfhoven created "Bridging The Divide", a conversation with Tomáš Sedláček and Gloria Benedikt, linking economics and the irrational, positioning artists as agents of change. He was co-founder of Citizen Artist Incubator together with Gloria Benedikt, which was funded by Creative Europe and brought together 30 artists in two editions. The 2016 of Citizen Artist Incubator took place at IIASA.[13] Twaalfhoven was a speaker about the role of arts in conflict areas at Aspen Institute Washington,[14] TEDx Amsterdam,[15] the European Forum on Culture 2013,[16] 2016 [17] and Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado, U.S.A. In 2017 he founded the Turn Club.

Artistic vision[edit]

For Twaalfhoven, musical expression revolves around communication: 'A work of art doesn't mean anything if the audience is not touched by it'[18] He tends to take music out of its traditional surroundings, to mix it with other expressions of Western or non-Western culture. He also tends to get the musicians out of their usual behaviour patterns and so stimulate interactions with the audience. His projects often take place at alternative concert locations such as a shipyard in the Amsterdam harbor, an old warehouse, or a nature spot. Politics are part of a majority of his work. This can be seen by the areas of social tension he brings his works to (for example Cyprus or the Palestinian Territories). He often speaks and writes about his outspoken vision on art and its function in society. A few illustrations are: his speech during TEDx Amsterdam conference in 2009,[19][20] his professorship at ArtEZ School of Arts (see Research), as well as his published articles and book (see Publications).[8]

City Composer[edit]

Twaalfhoven was the first 'citycomposer' in the Netherlands. He performed this task for the municipality of Zaanstad where he was appointed for one year on September 25, 2006. Local musicians, professionals, actors, visual artists and volunteers played leading roles at all performances. The post of citycomposer is not unique to the Netherlands. For instance Ghent in Belgium had a citycomposer appointed for the first time in 2004.[21][22] Twaalfhoven's work in Zaanstad culminated in a large main event: 'Droomzomernacht', an adaptation of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, performed with over 150 local musicians, dancers and actors[23][24] In October 2010 he has been appointed for the task of citycomposer again, this time in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer.[25]

Selected Projects[edit]

  • The Music on Troubled Soils Conference (Jerusalem, 2008). Merlijn was a speaker at this conference, which discussed the role of music in troubled regions such as Israel, Cyprus and South Africa.
  • Al Quds Underground (2009/2010) Festival in East Jerusalem. Western and Palestinian musicians and actors collaborate in about 150 small performances in living rooms.[26][27]
  • La Nuit n'est pas un chocolat (2002–2006) Yearly spectacle combining contemporary music, theater, cookery and dance. (Performance location: Paradiso, Amsterdam 2002–2006)[28]
  • Long Distance Call (2005) A project in Cyprus with musicians from both sides of the border. They performed on rooftops to bridge the buffer zone that is dividing the island into a Greek and a Turkish part.[29]
  • Symphony for All (2006) Performed by professional and amateur musicians together with school children [3][30]
  • Torenhoog Mijlenbreed (2009) Large scale composition for modern carillon (named 'de Zingende Toren', designed by artist Bernard Heesen) and about 500 school children and 9 professional singers, performed at the opening of 'Cultuurcampus Vleuterweide'.[31][32]
  • Holland Festival (2016). 276 bassoon players gathered in the Royal Concertgebouw in an attempt to raise the popularity of this instrument, composed by Merlijn Twaalfhoven.
  • Four Drifting Seasons (2017) – world premiere by composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven at the Concert for a Sustainable Planet at Carnegie Hall, NYC. This concert was organized by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).
  • Musical Postcards: Merlijn Twaalfhoven is a member of the Musical Postcards Team.[33]


  • 1 Gram Of Time 2005 (CD by Amstel Quartet for which Twaalfhoven composed the title song) Amstel Records AR 004.[34]
  • Off Limits 2006 (Cd by Susanna Borsch on which she plays 'Winter in/m April' by Twaalfhoven. Karnatic Lab Records ASIN B000SKKD1I.[35]
  • Dusting For Prints 2009 (CD by Esquire Saxofoon Kwartet on which they play Majority Deviation (2004) by Twaalfhoven). Bonte Koe Records (BKR 014).[36]


From 2004 to 2008 Twaalfhoven was a professor in 'PopKunst' at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in the Netherlands.[37][38][39] He performed research on how artists could reach a new and diverse audience without compromising their artistic vision and ideas.[40] During his studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam he performed artistic research on Japanese aesthetics.[41]


  • Column in Kaap Kunst art magazine, no.7, pag.35 [2010]. Utrecht: Kunstfactor.1877-6434[42]
  • Article in Jaarboek Actieve Cultuurparticipatie, pag.85–87 [2010]. Utrecht: Fonds voor Cultuurparticipatie. ISBN 978-94-90881-01-6[43]
  • Book: Art In Society – Twaalfhoven, Merlijn [2009]. Zwolle: De Jonge Hond. ISBN 978-90-8910-122-8 [44]
  • On Peace – column for Treaty of Utrecht [2009].[45]
  • Article in journal Boekman 72: Art and Audience, pag.40–45 [2007]. Amsterdam: Boekmanstichting.1571-5949[46]
  • Necessity of Desintegration in Kennist Loont 2007–2011, pag.40–43 [2007]. Utrecht: Dutch University Press. ISBN 978-90-361-0071-7[39][47]
  • Articles in Trans Artists magazine [2005]. Amsterdam: TransArtists.[48][49]
  • Article in journal Boekman 62: Art and Money, pag.74–75 [2005]. Amsterdam: Boekmanstichting.1571-5949[46]
  • Article in daily newspaper Trouw [2004]. Amsterdam: De Persgroep Nederland.[50]
  • De Veelte – website on Japanese Aesthetics [2003].[51]
  • Merlijn Twaalfhoven wrote blogs for Citizen Artist Incubator.[52][53]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

  • Audience Award and Jury Award during the nl:Nederlandse Muziekdagen 2003[54][55]
  • Honourable mention young composers at the International Rostrum of Composers 2003 for 'If you reveal...'[56]
  • 2nd prize at the KBC Aquarius composition contest 2002 for 'If you reveal...'
  • 2nd prize at the Jur Naessens Muziekprijs competition 2002[57]
  • NOG Stimuleringsprijs (encouragement prize), awarded by Nederlands Ballet Orkest (Dutch ballet orchestra) in 2000 for GUSH.[58]
  • Amsterdamprijs voor de kunst – nominee (2015)[59]
  • Torch bearer award (2016)
  • Gieskes Strijbis Podiumprijs – nominee (2017)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Merlijn Twaalfhoven, (1976 - heden)". Biografie (in Dutch). Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  2. ^ Harry De Bock (February 10, 2004). "Nacht in de Barentszzee met Merlijn Twaalfhoven en Toneelgroep Amsterdam" (in Dutch). KKunst. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  3. ^ a b "NedPhO GO! presenteert bijzonder project: Componeren voor iedereen" (in Dutch). Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest. January 3, 2006. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  4. ^ "Body/voice Ted brandsen & krzysztof pastor" (in Dutch). Holland Festival Archive 2007. June 15, 2004. Archived from the original on 4 July 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  5. ^ "HNB: Carmen op reis" (in Dutch). Holland Symfonia. Seizoen 2003-2004. Archived from the original on 12 July 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2010. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ "Springdance archive" (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  7. ^ "La Vie Sur Terre". Archived from the original on 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  8. ^ a b Emile Wennekes (, nr 18, pp. 222-227). "Starry-Eyed Merlijn Twaalfhoven. A Singular Voice". The Low Countries - 2010, Nr. 18. Ons Erfdeel. pp. 222–227. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2010. Check date values in: |date= (help) (and Mark Delaere): Contemporary music in the Low Countries Trans. by Laura Watkinson. Rekkem: Ons Erfdeel,'2006, 128 p. ISBN 9789075862874. I, C 2007
  9. ^ "List of participants" (PDF).
  10. ^ "An Infinite Number of Futures" (PDF).
  11. ^ "Merlijn Twaalfhoven - Aspen Ideas Festival". Aspen Ideas Festival.
  12. ^ "Culture and Conflict: The Power of the Arts to Bridge Divides - The Aspen Institute". 29 June 2012.
  13. ^ "Citizen Artist Incubator project - 2016 - IIASA".
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Wennekes, Emile (2010). The Low Countries, arts and society in Flanders and the Netherlands. Rekkem, Belgium: Ons Erfdeel VZW. p. 227. ISBN 978-90-79705-05-4.
  19. ^ Alexander Klopping (November 5, 2009). "Merlijn Twaalfhoven". TEDx Amsterdam. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  20. ^ "Video - Merlijn Twaalfhoven on reconnecting art and life".
  21. ^ "Stadscomponist" (in Dutch). Stad Gent. Archived from the original on 23 April 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  22. ^ "10 Things to know about Ghent - UNESCO City of Music" (PDF). UNESCO. August 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  23. ^ "Twaalfhoven stadscomponist van Zaanstad" (in Dutch). Science Guide. September 27, 2006. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  24. ^ "Droomzomernacht" (in Dutch). May 15, 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  25. ^ "City Composer Press Release Haarlemmermeer" (in Dutch). Gemeente Haarlemmermeer. October 13, 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2010.[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ "My plan for Jerusalem". Archived from the original on 2010-12-29. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  27. ^ "Al Quds Underground Festival 2010". Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  28. ^ "VPRO" Archived 2009-10-31 at WebCite, review by Sebastiaan ter Burg, 30 May 2005
  29. ^ Documented by film maker Adam Sèbire in "Echoes across the Divide"[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ Review by René van Peer in Brabants Dagblad (in Dutch)
  31. ^ De Zingende Toren (in Dutch)
  32. ^ Cultuurcampus Vleuterweide (in Dutch)
  33. ^ "Musical Postcards".
  34. ^ "Amstel Quartet". Archived from the original on 2011-09-03. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  35. ^ design carst van der molen / 2006. "Karnatic Lab". Archived from the original on 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  36. ^ Esquire Saxofoon Kwartet Archived November 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ (Dutch Site)
  38. ^ Trouw (Dutch article in newspaper)
  39. ^ a b Scienceguide (Dutch site) De noodzaak van desintegratie. February 7, 2007
  40. ^ Article published among others: Maaike Bleeker (2006) De theatermaker als onderzoeker Amsterdam University Press ISBN 978-90-5356-879-8 (Paper)
  41. ^ Resulting in: website De Veelte
  42. ^ Kunstfactor Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine (Dutch site)
  43. ^ PDF Download of Jaarboek Actieve Cultuurparticipatie (Dutch)
  44. ^ De Jonge Hond (Dutch site)
  45. ^ "Column Treaty of Utrecht in English". 2009-05-29. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  46. ^ a b Boekman Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine (see journal archive)
  47. ^ "Kennis Loont 2007-2011" (in Dutch). February 6, 2007. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  48. ^ Trans Artists Archived 2007-07-14 at the Wayback Machine Van binnenuit aangetast!?
  49. ^ Trans Artists Archived 2007-07-14 at the Wayback Machine No Artsperanto!
  50. ^ Trouw Article: Steriele en veilige kunst blijft over
  51. ^ "Merlijn". 8 July 2012. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012.
  52. ^ Nexus, the research Blog of IIASA: and Aspen Institute
  53. ^ "How Compassion Can Become a Weapon to Fight the Islamic State - The Aspen Institute". 30 June 2015.
  54. ^ Review newspaper Trouw (in Dutch)
  55. ^ Nederlandse Muziekdagen Archived October 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine (in Dutch)
  56. ^ "International Music Council". Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  57. ^ Jur Naessens Muziekprijs Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine (in Dutch)
  58. ^ Frits van der Waa (2000-09-18). "Newspaper Article in Volkskrant newspaper". Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  59. ^ "De Amsterdamprijs voor de Kunst focust op vernieuwing - Kunst & Media - PAROOL". Het Parool.

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