With this contrabass concerto a wish dating from my student years has become reality. Henk Guldemond, at the time leader of the Concertgebouw Orchestra’s contrabass section, invited me to discuss with him the possibilities of the contrabass and of a concerto for this instrument. In the end, this didn’t amount to anything, but the idea remained in the back of my head; together with the intention to start a future contrabass concerto with a piccolo solo.
More than 25 years after this conversation, the idea was realized after all. I suggested writing a concerto for contrabass and wind orchestra to contrabassist Peter Leerdam – at the time a fellow student of mine – and to conductor Josef Suilen and wind orchestra ‘Sint Jan’ from the Dutch town of Wierden. The idea was received so favourably, that a commission could be realized, owing to great efforts on the part of Sint Jan’s and to benevolent grants from the Rabobank Noord-West Twente, the foundation for amateur music ‘De Kunstfactor – Unisono’ and the foundation ‘De Noaber van Wierden’.
The composition is in one movement and largely monothematic. The music has been cast into a sonata form, with a short Adagio inserted between the exposition and the development and a cadenza for the solo instrument halfway the recapitulation. I made grateful use of a number of ideas and suggestions of Peter Leerdam.
In 2019, I transcribed the concerto for contrabass and small symphony orchestra, partly because my son Benjamin expressed the wish to perform it as part of his Master test examination. He did so June 27th, 2019, in the Witte de With Theatre in Rotterdam, having assembled orchestra of students all by himself, conducted by Leonard Kwon.
There is also a version for contrabass and symphon orchestra, and also a reduction for contrabass and piano.