Born: October 30, 1914
Died: November 13, 2001
Country: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Studies: Amsterdam University (Ph.D.1969)
Marius Flothuis was not only a composer: he was also a musicologist, programme organiser and music critic. In all his activities he left a significant mark on the musical life of the Netherlands. Music was Flothuis’ abiding passion. He studied piano with Arend Koole and Hans Brandt Buys and music theory with the latter. After leaving school he read classics at Amsterdam University and music at Utrecht. In 1937 he became assistant programme organiser for the Concertgebouw orchestra, where he met many musicians and composers.
During the Second World War it became compulsory in the Netherlands for anyone who was active in the arts or a cultural sphere to be registered at the Chamber of Arts. Membership automatically entailed a declaration of loyalty to the occupying forces. Flothuis was supposed to apply for such membership as he was in a “mixed marriage”; his wife had a Jewish father. He refused to do so and in 1942 this cost him his job. Thereafter he led a semi-illegal existence; he sheltered Jews going into hiding and organised concerts whose proceeds went to supporting the resistance. In September 1943 he was betrayed: following his arrest he spent several months in prison in Vught and from there he was sent to the Oranienburg concentration camp, where he remained until May 1945. Here he gave piano recitals and composed, as a counterbalance to the horrors surrounding him. In 2002 he was posthumously awarded the Yad Vashem prize.
As a composer Flothuis was largely self-taught. His first public concert was in 1939 with the performance of his Vier Morgenstern liederen (Four Morgenstern songs) by the Concertgebouw orchestra conducted by Eduard van Beinum. In common with his contemporaries Hans Henkemans, Leon Orthel and Lex van Delden, Flothuis wrote in the neoclassical idiom that prevailed in the Netherlands between 1940 and 1970. He strove for clarity and balance both in structure and instrumentation. In the last twenty years of his life his musical style became more associative and intuitive. Marius Flothuis wrote some hundred works in nearly every genre, excluding opera. Chamber music and lieder are the most frequent in his compositions.
Throughout his life Flothuis was an admirer of Mozart; he wrote his thesis (1969) and other several articles on Mozart. Flothuis was a prominent figure in the Dutch Mozart Association and at the Central Institute for Mozart Research in Salzburg. Amongst Flothuis’ other favourites were Monteverdi, Schubert, Debussy and Boulez. After the war Flothuis worked as a documentalist at the newly established Donemus (the Dutch institute for the documentation of contemporary music) and he was music critic for the paper . In 1953 he returned to his job at the Concertgebouw and from 1955 to 1974 he was the orchestra’s artistic director. In the programmes he devised Flothuis was keen to integrate old and new, well-known and less familiar music. He himself was not always appreciative of contemporary music but he nevertheless gave it generous space in his programmes. Thus for example he promoted the works of Matthijs Vermeulen.
In the years 1974-1982 Flothuis taught music in Utrecht, specialising in the period 1750-1920. He collaborated in editing the collected works of Mozart, Gluck and Debussy. After he retired Flothuis devoted himself to writing books and composing. He has since come to be regarded as the éminence grise of the music world in the Netherlands. A man of many distinctions, he died on 13 November 2001.
Works for Percussion