Ton de Leeuw

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Antonius Wilhelmus Adrianus de Leeuw (born Rotterdam, 16 November 1926; died Paris, 31 May 1996) was a Dutch composer. He occasionally experimented with microtonality.

Life and career[edit]

Taught by Olivier Messiaen and others, and influenced by Béla Bartók, Leeuw was a teacher at the University of Amsterdam and later professor of composition and electronic music at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam from 1959 to 1986. For his notable students, See: List of music students by teacher: K to M#Ton de Leeuw.

He studied ethnomusicology with Jaap Kunst between 1950 and 1954 [1] and the encounter with the Dagar brothers and Drupad on his first visit to India in 1961 deepened a lifelong interest in "transculturation". He also visited Japan in the 1960s. This manifested itself in his work for Western instruments by the occasional use of microtonality, as in his String Quartet No. 2 (1964),[2] as well as in compositional plans; Gending (1975)[a] for Javanese gamelan is a rare foray into writing for non-western instruments.

He wrote three operas, all to his own libretti, including a television opera Alceste (1963, after Euripides), the one-act De Droom ("the Dream", 1963), and finally Antigone (1989–1991, after Sophocles).

Selected recordings[edit]


  1. ^ Grove[full citation needed] gives the wrong date in one place, besides "UCLA, Berkeley" for UC Berkeley


  1. ^ Baker's (7th ed.)[full citation needed]
  2. ^ Vincent McDermott, "Current Chronicle: The Netherlands", The Musical Quarterly 52, no. 4 (October 1966): 511–20; citation on 517–18.

Further reading[edit]

  • Groot, Rokus de. 1986. "Aspects of Ton de Leeuw’s Musical Universe". Key Notes, no.23:17–31.
  • Groot, Rokus de. 1995. "The Concept of Extended Modality in Recent Works by Ton de Leeuw". In Ethnomusicology in the Netherlands: Present Situation and Traces of the Past, edited by Wim van Zanten and Marjolijn J. van Roon, 93–112. Oideion: The Performing Arts World-wide 2; CNWS Publications 35. Leiden: Research School CNWS. ISBN 90-73782-44-9.
  • Groot, Rokus de. 2001. "Leeuw, Ton [Antonius Wilhemus Adrianus] de". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.