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5 quotes that tell all about Reinbert de Leeuw's phenomenal Zomergasten #zg14

Reviled and adulated. In perhaps the best episode in years, it revealed why Zomergasten is such a good TV programme. Thanks to guest Reinbert de Leeuw and host Wilfried de Jong. 5 quotes we need to show why.

 1 "Yes, you can see that a little later"

Zomergasten is no '24 hours with', no in-depth, open interview with time as the main ingredient. Wilfried de Jong has obviously prepared well, because time is in short supply with such a guest. More than merely watched the fragments selected by De Leeuw, but also the entire documentaries from which they were cut. And he is not too shy to show it. "Yes, you'll see that a moment later" and "nice also how he goes on to say...". . That's the way it should be.

It is not '24 hours with', in which De Jong - by the setting of that programme alone - does have to confront. So this evening, no awkward questions about cultural subsidies, where De Leeuw played a major role both as a recipient and an advisor in handing out.

Here, De Jong is the courteous host offering space.

2 "I have to stop you from time to time"

Reinbert de Leeuw is the music teacher we all wish we had. At the beginning of the broadcast, De Leeuw makes it clear that he has chosen one theme, one story, at most with an occasional foray into theatre and film. No motley collection of fragments, no Peyton Place, but a music lecture.

And what a one!

Larded with anecdotes, historical background, passion and emotion, it went from Stravinsky to Schoenberg, via Ives to John Cage, via Schubert to Messiaen, Andriessen, Liszt and Ustvolskaya to finally arrive at Bach via Vivier. And all with beautiful images and ditto explanations.

De Jong barely gets between them now and then, and eventually has to stop De Leeuw.

No wonder our southern neighbours are jealous of such an evening of television with a now more than twenty-five-year history.

3 "Biography doesn't interest me one bit"

It takes more than half an hour, but then it arrives. The biography that got a second printing in no time. And after De Leeuw's vile remarks, a third edition of Thea Derks' chunky Reinbert de Leeuw: man or melody   a matter of time.

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De Leeuw doesn't forbid anything, of course, but... A tactic that recurs time and again. As in an excerpt about the recent not exactly smooth collaboration between Louis Andriessen and the Concertgebouw Orchestra; De Leeuw doesn't want to comment negatively on orchestra or conductor, but...

"A strange history", De Leeuw calls the fuss surrounding the biography now, in which he may have been a bit "cowardly" or "naive", but in which he speaks of "bad faith" within a minute. "countless errors" and "omissions". To end with "Oh well, you learn something from it too".

The viewer sees De Jong thinking for a moment: shall I go on now, because how is it possible that such a bad book gets purely rave reviews by peers, but he waits.

Intentionally, it later turns out.

4 "Were you in love too?"

De Leeuw's own compositions remain somewhat underexposed this evening. A pity, because not only his role as performing musician and conductor as well as director are of immense importance for not only the Dutch music world, his own compositions deserve much more attention. But precisely when it comes to perhaps his masterpiece Im wonderschönen Monat Mai is about and about Barbara Sukowa, called De Leeuw's muse, De Jong takes the most personal approach. He asks, "Were you in love too?", quoting from Derks' biography.

5 "I distrust all quotes coming out of biography!"

This time The Lion falls out of character and replies affirmatively, realises what he has just said and recovers, "I think you are an incredibly nice man, but I don't want to talk about this right now..."

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The grin on De Jong's face speaks volumes. Like predecessors Joost Zwagerman and Connie Palmen, he does not have to emphatically put his stamp on the broadcast. He prepares himself thoroughly. Then knows where the pain points are. And shows them.

The host has no judgment. That is up to the viewer and reader of Derks' biography.

In it, Derks also highlights elements of De Leeuw's personal life. But are they that bad? The biographical revelations are not too bad. OK, we learn something about the parental home, and while that is not exactly average, it is not shocking either. We read that he has some form of resentment, and that he sometimes takes things too much for granted. Just like a real person. But Derks never psychologises, giving ample space to many voices, which frequently contradict each other.

Above all, what the book offers is an indispensable account of modern music in the Netherlands, with an understandable leading role for Reinbert de Leeuw. What Alex Ross' The rest is noise is vear the historiography of modern western music, Thea Derks' Reinbert de Leeuw: man or melody for the historiography of modern Dutch music.

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Henri Drost

Henri Drost (1970) studied Dutch and American Studies in Utrecht. Sold CDs and books for years, then became a communications consultant. Writes for among others GPD magazines, Metro, LOS!, De Roskam, 8weekly, Mania, hetiskoers and Cultureel Persbureau/De Dodo about everything, but if possible about music (theatre) and sports. Other specialisms: figures, the United States and healthcare. Listens to Waits and Webern, Wagner and Dylan and pretty much everything in between.View Author posts

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