Born: March 27, 1932, Culemborg, Gelderland, the Netherlands
Died: November 29, 2003 - East Sussex, England
The Dutch composer, Rudi Martinus van Dijk, studied with Hendrik Andriessen and Leon Orthel at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague and first came to the fore as a composer at the age of 19 when his Sonatine for piano was performed at the International Gaudeamus Music Week. Van Dijk emigrated to Canada in 1953 and two years later became a pupil of the American composer Roy Harris. The Canada Council of Arts enabled Van Dijk to further his studies in Paris with Max Deutsch, a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg, while concluding his piano studies with Kendall Taylor in London.
During the 1950ís and 1960ís Rudi Martinus van Dijk on a regular basis wrote music for and performed as pianist for radio and television for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Between 1964 and 1966 he was active at the BBC in London involved particularly in educational television programs broadcast in many corners of the world including Australia. In 1966 Rudi van Dijk was appointed teacher of composition and piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. From that moment onward teaching became a part of his music life. In 1972 he was appointed teacher of composition and orchestration at Indiana University (USA), and in that same year took a similar post at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. It was not until 1985 that Van Dijk returned to Europe and after spending a year in Spain writing music he became composer in residence at Dartington Hall in Devon (UK).
Rudi Martinus van Dijk then took to residing in both England and the Netherlands alternately, devoting his time to writing music. He has created an impressive oeuvre. His music has become increasingly popular throughout England and Europe. His Concertante for flute, percussion, harp and string orchestra (1963) was first performed in the Netherlands in 1965 by Koos Verheul, solo flautist with the Hague Philharmonic Orchestra along with members of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra, and since then the Concertante has been performed numerous times throughout Canada and the USA. One of the highlights of Van Dijk's vocal music is The Shadowmaker (1977), four songs for baritone and orchestra, commissioned and sung by the famous baritone Victor Braun in a performance with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Mario Bernardi. Rudi van Dijk and Victor Braun's collaborations included concerts of music for voice and piano. September 1991 saw the Dutch premiere of the Violin Concerto (1984) at the Zeeuws Vlaanderen Festival with Polish-Dutch solo violinist Robert Szreder and the Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jan Stulen. The national premiere of the Four Epigrams from 1961 occurred in September 1993 with the Hague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jac van Steen. The Piano Concerto completed in 1994 was premiered in May 1996 to acclaim with Geoffrey Douglas Madge as soloist and the North Netherlands Philharmonic with conductor Viktor Liberman.
Rudi Martinus van Dijk composed orchestral, chamber and vocal music, often featuring violin or piano. His music has drawn the attention of musicians and listeners in Great Britain. Hyperion recording artists The Raphael Ensemble, commissioned and performed the Sextet in England in 1998 and his Sonata for Violin and Piano was performed in recital at the Wigmore Hall and broadcast on BBC3 with Anthony Marwood and pianist Aleksander Madzar. London's Angika Dance Company for which he wrote Triple Hymn for soprano, cello, mridangam, tam-tam and tubular bell and based on a mantra from the Vedic Literature, received a highly successful premiere at the prestigious Spring Loaded Festival 2000 in London with the well known American soprano Lucy Shelton. The Angika Dance Company has since toured England performing Triple Hymn. As part of the International Chamber Series 2001 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Hyperion recording artists the Florestan Trio performed the premiere of Van Dijk's Piano Trio.
The number of compositions written as a result of the horrors of the Second World War is exceptionally large. Well known examples are Ein Ueberlebender aus Warschau (1947-1948) by Arnold Schoenberg, The War Requiem (1961) by Benjamin Britten, The First Symphony also named Versuch eines Requiems (1936-1945) by Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Message to the Living by Hans Henkemans,and last but not least, The Anna Frank Cantata (1984) by Hans Kox. In the early part of 2003, Rudi Martinus Van Dijk finished his monumental piece of music (55 minutes) Kreitenís Passion for baritone solo, choir, and symphony orchestra with text by Heinrich Riemenschneider (1924). The work was given its World Premiere on September 19, 2003, at the Tonhalle of Düsseldorf in performance with the internationally famous Baritone Andreas Schmidt, the Städtischen Musikverein zu Düsseldorf (rehearsed by Marieddy Rossetto) and the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker under the direction of Music Director John Fiore. Not only this concert, but also the next two performances of September 21 and 22 were sold out.
Rudi Martinus van Dijk died on November 29, 2003 in East Sussex, England, just two months after the world premiere performance of Kreiten's Passion, composed in honor of pianist Karlrobert Kreiten, in Düsseldorf, Germany.