He was a composer and teacher born in Enschede, The Netherlands, whose father owned a music shop.
He learned to play the cello, piano and harmonica when he was young and was given much encouragement by his parents to continue in music. After he left high school he entered the Stern Conservatory in Berlin to take studies in piano and composition in 1924, remaining there for the next 5 years before going back home in 1929 to study with the Dutch composer Willem Pijper, who became his mentor and a huge influence to him. He later dedicated his “Piano Sonatine” to Pijper.
He went into several years of non-creativeness on the composition side of things but he finance himself by performing as a jazz musician at the Kabarett der Unmoglichen. but on his return he lent towards the “serial technique” which was influenced by the composers Webern and Pijper and his use of the twelve-tone technique, first noted in the early 1950s on his “Septet for Five Winds, Violin and Double Bass”, gained him recognition as the first Dutch composer to use it.
A respected teacher, he taught at the Rotterdam Conservatory from 1945 until he was given the position of director at the Amsterdam Music Lyceum (later the Amsterdam Conservatoire) in 1948. This was followed by a directorship at the Utrecht Conservatoire from 1953 and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague in 1958. His students over the years included Louis Andriessen, Theo Bruins, David Porcelijn and Peter Schat.
His compositions include numerous works such that include a symphony, concertos and concertinos, a sonatina, a cantata, a partita, a string quartet, a wind quintet, a septet, “Variations for Orchestra” along with other orchestral pieces, works for organ and works for male chorus such as “Alperjagerslied” and “Ichnaton”.
Recognised for his contribution to music, he was awarded the Sweelinck Prize in 1969. He died in Oegstgeest in 1970 when he was 63 years old.
Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra recordings
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (Kees van Baaren)
NM Classics 92058
Conductor – Alexander Vedernikov
Pianist – David Kuyken