Page 1

‘... each sound, each structure is a promise …’ – Gottfried Michael Koenig





2 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

From the outset, Dutch electronic music found itself in between two principal European trends: the musique concrète introduced by French radio in 1948 and the German elektronische Musik that emerged from 1951 onwards at the Cologne broadcast station. The first real Dutch electronic music studio was built in 1956, not by a broadcasting company but, remarkably enough, by the acoustics department at Philips Research Laboratories as part of a research program.


Around the same time as Philips was establishing the first Dutch studio for electronic music, Walter Maas, director of the Gaudeamus foundation for contemporary music, took steps that led to the




Walter Maas and the Gaudeamus Foundation



Electronic Music at the Nederlandse Radio Unie



The Contactorgaan Elektronische Muziek



Defining Electronic Music


chapters from Kees Tazelaar,


Staging the First Concert


On the Threshold of Beauty: Philips


A Studio at Technische Hogeschool Delft


and the Origins of Electronic Music


Plans for a New Studio in Utrecht


in the Netherlands 1925–1965


New Studios in Utrecht and Bilthoven


(Rotterdam: V2_Publishing, 2013).


Gottfried Michael Koenig at Gaudeamus and

Muziek (Electronic music contact organization), 1


This text is based on several

See for instance Peter Peters,

the Bilthoven Electronic Music Course


Eeuwige jeugd: Een halve eeuw


Gottfried Michael Koenig at STEM


Stichting Gaudeamus (Amsterdam:




Donemus, 1995).

2 – PART 4

founding of the Contactorgaan Elektronische


Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

or CEM. Gaudeamus’ important role in Dutch contemporary music is well known;2 CEM’s has been less so. CEM’s principal aim was to set up a studio where composers could be trained to make electronic music independently. Although the Philips studio was emphatically not meant for

75 Years Gaudeamus

In 1959 it was decided to close not only the Philips studio in Eindhoven but also the studio in Delft. A power struggle around who would host a successor studio broke out between the universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht; the conservatories in Amsterdam and The Hague also became candidates, and CEM forcefully attempted to influence the course of events. The work of the Philips studio eventually continued at a new studio at Utrecht University, STEM. But STEM was unable to take over the training duties of the Delft studio, so CEM set up a small educational studio in the town of Bilthoven as a stopgap. such a purpose, the corporation was represented

and Karlheinz Stockhausen at

in CEM. A studio intended for composers’ use opened in 1957 at Technische Hogeschool Delft

Figure 1. Gottfried Michael Koenig WDR’s studio for electronic music


Gottfried Michael Koenig established a success­-

in Cologne.

ful internationally oriented electronic music

(TH Delft). In addition to establishing the studio,

course in Bilthoven. As a result of the quality

CEM rapidly began working in a more general

of this course, Koenig entered the picture as a

sense to increase awareness of electronic music

potential director of STEM. He took over the

in the Netherlands, and it played an important role

position in 1964. From then on, Koenig’s course

in staging electronic music concerts.

was gradually incorporated into the pedagogical 3

Nowadays Delft University of

program of STEM.


4 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus


Walter Maas and the Gaudeamus Fou­nda­tion

Maas’ invitation resulted in “Elektronische Musik”, a lecture Meyer-Eppler gave to an audience of young composers and musicians in Bilthoven on May 16, 1954. In his lecture, Meyer-Eppler explained that using an instrument whose sound range was extended through the presence of electronic elements did not make a piece of music electronic. Such instruments were mainly useful in the production of popular

Most of the artistic output produced at Philips was related

music and were created out of economic considerations,

to the development of certain technologies: participation

as replacements for members of the orchestra. According

by composers and musicians had been sought at moments

to Meyer-Eppler, electronic music wasn’t about sounds that

when technological developments were ready to be tested

came into being through the playing of an instrument or

or demonstrated. An initiative with its roots in the opposite

compositions that needed interpretation: electronic music

– the need for technology from the perspective of composers

was music that was transferred by the composer personally

and musicians – came from Walter Maas.

and immediately onto magnetic tape. “The electronic music composer no longer needs a medium to realize his art,”

Maas frequently traveled around Europe, visiting music

a newspaper commented. “That art now goes directly from

festivals, and he had become conscious of the development

him to the listener.”5

of a broad contemporary music movement. The International Summer Course for New Music in Darmstadt, Germany, started in 1946, but Maas would say with a certain pride, “Darmstadt was early, but I was earlier!”4 For Maas, electronic music was primarily a new form of composition that he had come across in Germany. Through Ton de Leeuw, who lived in Huize Gadeaumus’ garden house from 1951 to 1952, he learned about the musique concrète of Paris, where De Leeuw had studied with Olivier Messiaen. In September 1953, Maas led a Dutch delegation to the 2. Internationale Kunstwoche der Musikalischen Jugend Deutschlands (Second international arts week for musical German youth) in Munich. There, on the 9th, he heard Werner Meyer-Eppler’s lecture “Elektronische Musik”, and he decided to invite him to give a similar talk in the Netherlands. Through Maas’ efforts,


Gottfried Michael Koenig, in

Meyer-Eppler’s influence in the Netherlands in the following

conversation with the author,

years was considerable.

February 22, 2012.

6 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands


“Electronische Muziek”, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, May 17, 1954.

75 Years Gaudeamus


Electronic Music at the Neder­landse Radio Unie

Maas made his first attempt to establish a Dutch studio

Figure 2. Production of the

for electronic music at the Nederlandse Radio Unie (NRU)

radiophonic opera Orestes at the

broadcasting company, where works that included

AVRO studio. From left: technicians

electronic material had been produced incidentally since December 1952. Shortly after Meyer-Eppler’s lecture in

Theo van Woerkom (seated), Luuk Ludolf, Arie Brandon, and composer Henk Badings.

Bilthoven, Maas visited Hilversum, where he discussed the possibilities for a studio with the acting director of the

Figure 3. From left: technician

NRU’s music department, H. Passchier. Henk Badings had

Piet Bottema, Ton de Leeuw and

finished his 54-minute radiophonic opera Orestes at the NRU in July 1954. At that time, he was the only well-known composer in the Netherlands to have used electronics in

Arie Brandon during production of Job in one of the NRU’s studios, 1956.

music. After Orestes won the Prix Italia, it certainly became easier to explain the importance of making a permanent electronic studio available to composers. Thanks to the prize, the work was broadcast by more than 900 radio stations worldwide. But another effect of the prize was that Badings became a leading figure in electronic music in the Netherlands whom the Gaudeamus composers could not ignore, in spite of his conservative approach to composition and their growing interest in the European avant-garde. Notwithstanding the success of Orestes, the NRU appeared unwilling to permanently install a studio where young composers could explore the musical potential of electronics. Maas therefore tried to convince Vermeulen and Philips Research to do so instead. But Philips did not see what kind of help it might be able to offer, and it questioned whether

8 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus


adding a new subject to its already overloaded research program would be wise. Nevertheless, Maas expressed the hope that

one way or another, the new electronic materials will be made available to the many musically creative talents that we have in this country. While, as has already been said, [Heinrich] Heine averred that on Judgment Day he would want to be in the Netherlands, since everything there is 30 years behind the times, our motivation is to do everything possible to correct this delay […]. In this area [electronics], Philips itself is a world leader, and it is therefore in an outstanding position to assist us in the aforementioned efforts.

The Contactorgaan Elektro­nische Muziek Vermeulen and Philips had not gone along with Maas’ suggestion in December 1954, but in April 1956, a studio was installed in Room 306 of Philips Research Laboratories. This new studio was certainly the most advanced in the Netherlands so far, but it did not fulfill the needs of Maas and the composers connected to Gaudeamus. Philips had offered Badings the op­portunity to produce the electronic ballet music Kaïn en Abel, and the studio was temporary and set up specifically and solely for this purpose. There were no indications yet that it would ultimately exist until the end of 1960. Maas therefore had to continue his search. On May 2, 1956, he visited TH Delft and had a meeting with Willem Kok of the acoustics research group.


They concluded that this university probably offered the best climate for establishing a studio that would fulfill the

The following year, the NRU commissioned Ton de Leeuw

needs of composers.

to compose the radio oratorio Job for soloists, mixed choir, orchestra and electronic sounds, but again, the equipment for

To support this goal, Maas came up with the idea of

the production of those sounds was only temporarily installed

founding an organization in which numerous electronic

in one of its radio studios. Like Badings, De Leeuw won the

music-related parties in the Netherlands would be

Prix Italia. De Leeuw now enjoyed similar esteem, but artisti-

represented. The possibility of holding a meeting to discuss

cally he represented an entirely different way of thinking.

starting an electronic studio had been on the agenda of the Gaudeamus annual assembly of June 9, 1956. Badings, however, said he would not come to such a meeting if 6

10 – PART 4

Letter from Maas to Vermeulen,

De Leeuw was going to be there, since, according to

December 15, 1954; Netherlands

Badings, De Leeuw had insulted him. Tension between

Music Institute.

Maas and Badings had also grown after Maas had been

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus

refused attendance at a meeting at Badings’ house of the “study center for experimental music”; Wouter Paap had offered to act as a mediator in that conflict.7 Maas called an exploratory meeting regarding the building of an electronic music studio on July 9, 1956. Those he invited included the NRU’s Eli Bomli and P. A. I. Huydts; TH Delft’s Kok; De Leeuw and Henk Stam of Gaudeamus; Vermeulen from Philips; and Hendrik Eduard Reeser of the Maatschappij tot Bevordering der Toonkunst (Society for the promotion of music) – but not Badings. The meeting concluded with the decision to establish the “Contactorgaan”, which would function as a platform for the further discussion of the building of an electronic music studio. 8 However, before this organization was officially founded, the 1956 edition of Gaudeamus Muziekweek took place from 25 August to 1 September. No serial music had yet been composed in the Netherlands, and dodecaphonic works were mostly being received with considerable skepticism in the press. Although Paap had

Figure 4: Henk Badings and

in 1936 (“the stains of twelve-tone techniques”) 11 to under-

offered to act as a mediator in an attempt to ease tensions

Roelof Vermeuen in Room 306

stand whose side Paap was on. In another article in the

between Maas and De Leeuw on the one hand and Badings

at Philips Research Laboratories

same issue of Mens en Melodie, Paap wrote that with Kaïn en

during the production of Kaïn

on the other, his review in the periodical Mens en Melodie of a concert during Muziekweek added fuel to the fire. Whereas according to Paap, the composers at Gaudeamus

en Abel, April 1956. Peter Peters, Eeuwige jeugd, 53.


safely, the 21-year-old composers Peter Schat, Jan van Vlijmen As Paap wrote, it was difficult for him, being the anti-atonalist

1956. A word made up by Wouter


music students who wander about in the dusky domains of Schoenbergianism. They drill into the sound, but they do not

non-musical electronic sounds” at exactly those points in

Minutes of the meeting at


Gaudeamus, Bilthoven, July 9,

he was, to form an opinion on the “truly creative talent of

According to Paap, Badings might even have applied “typically

this study center has been found.

and Otto Ketting had turned out to be disciples of the series.


the score where the destructive elements in the Cain and Abel tragedy were in play (such as in the murder dance) 11

Henk Badings, De hedendaagsche

Paap that means something

Nederlandsche muziek (Amsterdam:

like “twelve-tone nonsense.”

Bigot en Van Rossum, 1936).

Wouter Paap, “Muziekweek

revolutionaries on an essential point: he had maintained a clear connection with traditional musical language.

No further information about

had managed so far to bypass “Zwölftönerei” 9 remarkably

Abel, Badings had distinguished himself from the electronic


in order to criticize the “electronic extravagances” of the Cologne school’s revolutionaries.12

Wouter Paap, “Elektronische

arrive at the music.”10 One only needs to look at the words

Gaudeamus”, Mens en Melodie 9

Muziek”, Mens en Melodie 9

The people involved in the upcoming founding of the

Badings used to express his aversion to dodecaphonic music

(1956): 290.

(1956): 270–71.

Contactorgaan were all invited to the lectures and concerts,

12 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus

in which the Cologne school was strongly represented. Meyer-Eppler lectured on the scientific foundations of electronic music.13 Karlheinz Stockhausen gave a lecture about electronic music in Germany and also performed his Gesang der Jünglinge, which he had completed earlier that year. In his lecture, Stockhausen warned composers as well as commissioners and listeners not to consider electronic music as something sensational. Only those composers who, through Anton Webern, had arrived at a point where traditional musical instruments were no longer sufficient for realizing their ideas could make proper use of the new medium, he said. But the Cologne school’s opposite current, the French musique concrète, was represented in Bilthoven as well. Maas had invited Pierre Schaeffer to give a lecture, though it was delivered instead by his delegate, the composer and film director Philippe Arthuys. Maas apparently not only wanted electronic music to be created by Dutch composers and performed in concert; he also wanted to provide these composers with theoretical input. Maas saw electronic music education as both a technical affair and a matter of music

Figure 5. Werner Meyer-Eppler’s

establishing and equipping the studio, financial planning

theory. And he presumably wanted to neutralize Badings’

book Elektrische Klangerzeugung:

and logistics. A second assembly took place on December 18,

conservative influence somewhat by inviting these important

Elektronische Musik und

1956 at the AVRO studio in Hilversum. By now, an impressive

synthetische Sprache (Bonn:

pioneers of the German and French avant-garde to the

Ferd. Dümmlers Verlag, 1949).


Figure 6. Werner Meyer-Eppler

list of Dutch organizations had agreed to take part in the Contactorgaan: the authors’ rights organizations BUMA and STEMRA, the music publisher Donemus, the Genootschap

Soon after the 1956 Muziekweek, the first official assembly

van Nederlandse Componisten (Dutch composers’ association),

of the “Contactorgaan tot oprichting van een elektronische

the Koninklijke Nederlandse Toonkunstenaars Vereniging

studio” in Nederland (Contact organization for the

(Royal Dutch musicians’ union), the NRU, Philips Research

establishment of an electronic studio in the Netherlands)

Laboratories, TH Delft, the University of Amsterdam’s phonetics

was held on October 12, 1956, in Restaurant De Poort van Kleef in Utrecht. Most of the organizations Maas had asked to participate had agreed to do so. At the meeting, Maas,


laboratory, and of course Gaudeamus.14

Werner Meyer-Eppler, “Wissenschaftliche Grundlagen der elektronischen Musik”,


Enclosure with invitation to

Huydts, Kok and Vermeulen were appointed as members

music archive, Akademie der

the Contactorgaan assembly of

of an executive committee, which was to concentrate on

Künste, Berlin.

December 18, 1956.

14 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus


Defining Electronic Music

The announced plenary meeting of the Contactorgaan took place on March 15, 1957, but in spite of the invitation, Badings and De Leeuw did not come. De Leeuw had agreed to become an advisor to the organization, however, while Badings had not yet given a decisive answer. Shortly after the plenary meeting, De Leeuw wrote that electronic music was that which – whatever sound sources it was based

At the second assembly of the Contactorgaan, its members

on – used electro­acoustic means in an autonomous way and

were asked to formulate their ideas regarding a definition of

was bound to a mechanical reproduction. Such autonomous

electronic music and send them to the chairman.15 Vermeulen

use of electro­acoustic means excluded all forms of electronic

was the first to formulate a definition, although he decided

arrangements of traditional music.19

to do so for “electrophonic” rather than “electronic” music. For him, whether or not a composition could be regarded

The Contactorgaan held its fifth assembly on April 16, 1957.

as “electrophonic music” seems to have depended mainly on

Badings had by now agreed to be an advisor, but again, neither

the use of certain techniques and not on the compositional

he nor De Leeuw attended the meeting. The organization’s

approach. According to Vermeulen, music could be called

original full name was now changed to Contactorgaan

electrophonic if the composer presented it to the audience

Elektronische Muziek (CEM), with the term “electronic music”

by means of an audio recording (magnetic tape, sound film,

given the following definition, which had been critically

phonograph record, etc.) and electronic equipment had been

reviewed by the members of CEM:

used in its production for purposes other than “faithful reproduction.” The mere use of an electric guitar, Hammond organ, trautonium or another directly played instrument, regardless of the use of electroacoustic techniques, did not count.16 At its third assembly, on January 23, 1957, the Contactorgaan


decided to invite the two Prix Italia winners Badings and De Leeuw to a plenary meeting as additional advisors. There,

Minutes of the Contactorgaan assembly of December 18, 1956.


R. Vermeulen, “Electrophonische

the definition of electronic music would be further discussed.17

muziek,” internal memo,

Kok said electronic music was distinguished from instrumental

December 20, 1956; Philips

music by its artistic aim. According to Kok, by modifying

Company Archives.

March 21, 1957. A copy of a

Minutes of the Contactorgaan

March 13, 1957, letter from

recorded material with electronic processes in manifold ways, one could obtain a succession of sound complexes during



De Leeuw was enclosed.

assembly, January 23, 1957. 18

Enclosure to the invitation for

Letter from Huydts to Kok,


Definition from the minutes of

reproduction that was impossible to achieve with traditional

the Contactorgaan assembly

the CEM assembly of April 16,

musical instruments.18

of March 15, 1957.


16 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

Electronic music emerges from the reproduction of artistically montaged fragmentary recordings, which have been obtained with magnetic tape recorders or other sound recording devices; these recordings can be made from natural sounds or synthetic vibrations produced with electronic or mechanical-electronic devices, or they can consist of combina­ tions of both sources that may or may not have been modified beforehand. 20

75 Years Gaudeamus


Staging the First Concert

The concert, announced in various newspapers as the very first concert of electronic music in the Benelux, consisted of the following elements: 1.

Spoken introduction by Henk Stam (CEM chairman)


Étude aux chemins de fer

Pierre Schaeffer Vladimir Ussachevsky


A Piece for Tape Recorder

The decision to change the name was made after it became



Bruno Maderna

clear that CEM should not only investigate the desirability and


a. Introduction to Job

Ton de Leeuw

possibility of founding an electronic music studio but should

b. Job

also act as a promoter of electronic music more generally.

Indeed, CEM’s involvement in programming electronic music


at concerts and festivals had become an important part of its activities soon after its establishment. In March 1957, for


Gesang der Jünglinge

instance, the Contactorgaan had been asked by the Holland

7. a. Introduction to Kaïn en Abel

Festival to give advice regarding electronic music demonstra-

b. Kaïn en Abel

Karlheinz Stockhausen Henk Badings

tions at the upcoming edition of the festival. 21 The proposed concert program sent by the Contactorgaan to the Holland

Additionally, Philips proposed playing the popular works

Festival in March 1957 was based on three considerations: the

“Song of the Second Moon” and “Night Train Blues” that were

program should not exclusively contain loudspeaker music and

produced at their Research Laboratories by Dick Raaijmakers’

should introduce visual elements by means of film and ballet;

alter ego, Kid Baltan, during the intermission. It was decided,

the different schools in the electronic music field should be

however, that no music would be played during the intermis-

represented; and the program should contain compositions

sion. Stockhausen was willing to come to Eindhoven in person

from as many different countries as possible. 22

on the condition that four-channel playback of Gesang der Jünglinge was possible.

At CEM’s eighth assembly, a new concert possibility was discussed, after Vermeulen reported that the Philips

In an attempt to do Stockhausen a favor, Raaijmakers – who

Schouwburg in Eindhoven was a potential venue. Maas and

was responsible for the audio engineering in the Philips Schouwburg that night – made additional connections from

Vermeulen were appointed by CEM to come to an agreement, using the program that had been proposed to the Holland Festival as a starting point. It was decided that a concert

Minutes of the Contactorgaan


assembly of March 15, 1957.



would take place on November 16, 1957.

Minutes of the CEM assembly of July 1, 1957.

Minutes of the CEM assembly


of September 9, 1957.

18 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

the outputs of WDR’s four-channel machine to the hall’s electronic reverberation system, so that the loudspeakers on the ceiling could be used along with the speaker groups surrounding the audience. However, during the performance, Stockhausen turned the levels up much higher than he had

75 Years Gaudeamus


A Studio at Tech­nische Hoge­school Delft TH Delft, represented by Willem Kok, was a member of the Contactorgaan from the beginning. Although establishing a studio was the Contactorgaan’s primary goal, it was not until March 1957 that it sent a letter in support of this to the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Arts and Sciences. The letter mentioned that young Dutch composers had been commissioned to compose electronic music works but were unable to accept the commissions because they lacked necessary skills and/or a place to work. The Philips Acoustics Laboratory (sic), the letter said, had been able to offer help on one occasion, but this help had remained incidental. 26 The Contactorgaan explained that the studio it wanted to make available to compo-

done during the sound check. Much to his displeasure (and

Figure 7. From left: Ton de Leeuw,

sers would have two objectives: to establish study opportunities

Raaijmakers’ embarrassment), the reverberation loudspeakers

Karlheinz Stockhausen, Edgard

for composers and to create an environment where composers

caused the whole ceiling to resonate. Another thing that

Varèse and Walter Maas after

could realize electronic music commissions. The Contactorgaan

annoyed Stockhausen was the music of Kid Baltan. In spite 24

of the decision made at the CEM assembly, Philips included

the CEM concert in Eindhoven on

was convinced that the permanent establishment of a studio

November 16, 1957.

should be achieved gradually, with its desirability and possibility

the popular works in the concert after all. The intermission

first made clear to interested circles through practice. Until

ended with Baltan’s pieces, played in the hall itself. In effect,

then, a temporary solution should be found. The Contactorgaan The occasion was the production

asked the Ministry to make a request on its behalf to TH Delft’s

of Badings’ Kaïn en Abel in the

board of governors that a temporary electronic music studio

Interview with Dick Raaijmakers

acoustics department of Philips

be installed in this transition period, perhaps eventually leading

by the author, The Hague,

Research Laboratories.

to the establishment of a permanent studio. 27

it was as if the second half of the concert began with “Song


of the Second Moon”. 25 24

August 21, 2010. 25

20 – PART 4


Letter from Bomli on behalf of

Ibid., and concert announcements

the Contactorgaan Elektronische

in Eindhovens Dagblad,

Studio (sic) to Reinink at the

On September 14, 1957, CEM informed composers that they

October 26, 1957, and De Tijd,

Ministry of Education, Arts and

would now have the opportunity to take lessons and carry out

November 8, 1957.

Sciences, March 9, 1957.

commissions in an electronic music studio. They were invited

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus

to an introductory presentation by Kok on September 28,

Figure 8. The electronic music

1957, at the Technische Hogeschool at Mijnbouwplein 11

studio at Technische Hogeschool

in Delft. 28 A national press release drew substantial notice,

Delft in its original state.

and the lecture hall at TH Delft proved too small for the 70-plus people who came to the meeting. One of them was Edgard Varèse, who had just started work in Eindhoven on his music for the Philips Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. At the formal opening of the studio in Delft, Varèse’s instrumental work Intégrales was played to the audience on phonograph record. Examples of the cynicism with which contemporary and electronic music were discussed in the serious press in the Netherlands have already been given (Paap’s articles in Mens en Melodie). Now the composer and music critic Jan Mul expressed his disapproval in a major Dutch newspaper, de Volkskrant:

22 – PART 4

29 28

Jan Mul, “Verslag opening

Minutes of the CEM assembly

studio Delft,” de Volkskrant,

of September 9, 1957.

September 30, 1957: 2.

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

The invention of sound recording tape has created the possibility of producing the most unrestrained sounds through loudspeakers. This is called “electronic music”. […] The advantages of electronic music are enormous: orchestras will become obsolete, and so will conductors; conservatories can close their doors. […] Meanwhile, the dangers of this pet project of young composers must not be overrated. True composers will soon discover that there is more music to be found in a badly played mandolin, and they will find that it is completely unnecessary to distort a tone using electronic devices. The type of bizarre sounds that can be achieved using normal musical instruments could be heard on a phonograph record of a 1926 work by the 71-year-old [sic] Edgard Varèse, who honored the inauguration of the studio with his presence. Dr. Maasj [sic], the father of the so-called Gaudeamus composers, shouted with joy that this electronic studio gave the Netherlands a future again. Thank goodness! 29

75 Years Gaudeamus

Although TH Delft had a serious problem with space, the room that housed the electronic music studio was unwanted by anyone else. The reason was that there was a large ventilator in it that stayed on all day and made a constant humming


Plans for a New Studio in Utrecht

noise. One might think this would be an unsurmountable obstacle for a music studio, but apparently, CEM was so eager to get started that it accepted these circumstances. At the CEM assembly of March 16, 1959, Vermeulen One should not judge the importance of the Delft studio and

announced he wanted to remove the electronic music

Kok’s influence solely by looking at the studio’s direct artistic

studio at Philips Research Laboratories, since it had become

output but by taking into account the extent to which the

a company in its own right with no reason to exist at a

experience of composers who worked there influenced future

research laboratory. He wanted a university to take over the

developments in the Netherlands. Among the composers

studio. Notwithstanding its planned temporariness, installing

attending Kok’s first sessions was Jan van Vlijmen, though

a successor to the Delft studio at a university had been on

he soon quit. Another was Misha Mengelberg. Although

Kok’s mind from the beginning too, and discussions around

Mengelberg kept attending Kok’s lectures and stayed on

making one possible began almost immediately. Musicology

the studio’s schedule for several years, he never completed

professor Hendrik Eduard Reeser and experimental physics

an electronic work in Delft. A third Dutch composer to pass

professor Pieter Maarten Endt, both of Utrecht University,

through the studio was Peter Schat. Van Vlijmen, Mengelberg

welcomed the establishment in Utrecht of a university

and Schat would be involved in the 1969 founding of the Studio

electronic music center where the technical means for

for Electro-Instrumental Music (STEIM) in Amsterdam, along

composing such music would be available and its physical

with Konrad Boehmer, Dick Raaijmakers, Louis Andriessen

fundamentals could be researched.

and Reinbert de Leeuw. STEIM still exists today. Jan Boerman’s first contact with the possibilities presented by the studio in

During a meeting at the Ministry of Education, Arts and

Delft had a huge impact on his future career as a composer.

Sciences attended by representatives of Philips, TH Delft

Between his first electronic work, 1959’s Musique concrète,

and Utrecht University, Reeser proposed that the electronic

and his last, 1997’s Ruïne, he created an extensive oeuvre

music institution to be established in Utrecht consist of a

consisting almost entirely of electronic music.

research center devoted partly to traditional instruments, an education center devoted partly to training composers of traditional music, and a production center. In this way, the Philips studio’s production activities and Delft’s educational program could be integrated. However, it soon became clear that the music center in Utrecht would be more exclusive in character. CEM realized that only a small number of invited

24 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus


New Studios in Utrecht and Bilthoven A consequence of the end of Philips’ commitment to electronic music was that CEM was no longer able to use the Philips studio’s equipment for concert sound reproduction. If CEM still wanted to realize its concert plans the following season, it needed to obtain its own portable system. Gaudeamus already had some useful devices, and others were bought to form a complete set of equipment. This portable setup had its own car and was managed by the technician Jaap Vink.31 At a CEM assembly, Kok suggested that with some small additions, the same equipment could also be used to produce and record electronic music in a studio.32 The organization decided to open a small studio in Bilthoven,

musicians would be able to work there, and in spite of

Figure 9. The electronic music

its own home base and that of Gaudeamus. The aim was for

Reeser’s original proposal, the university would not offer an

studio at Technische Hogeschool

the educational studio to be ready for use by the time the

educational program. For the moment, the Utrecht studio

Delft after renovation, 1959.

production studio in Utrecht opened.33 Five composers were

would only take over production tasks from Eindhoven.

working in the Bilthoven studio by June 1961, and seven others had shown interest. Vink, at first only responsible for the

CEM now had a new task. After all, its first priority had been


establishing a studio for educating composers.30 The studio in

Jaap Vink later became an important staff member at

Delft would stay open for another year, but no new students

provide technical assistance at the studio.34

the Institute of Sonology and

were accepted after October 1, 1959. 32

remained in that position until

At the end of October 1960, the Philips studio in Eindhoven

his retirement in 1993.

was relocated to a 1921 former office building in Utrecht.

Minutes of the CEM assembly

It was renamed the Studio for Electronic Music, or STEM (in

of July 14, 1960. 33


Minutes of the CEM assembly of November 19, 1959.

26 – PART 4

mobile concert equipment, was now receiving a stipend to

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands


Minutes of the CEM assembly

Dutch, stem means “voice”) and became operational again in

of August 26, 1960.

January 1961. STEM initially occupied just four rooms on the

Minutes of the CEM assembly

ground floor, which housed Vermeulen’s office, a technical

of June 12, 1961.

workshop, a four-channel playback room and the studio itself.

75 Years Gaudeamus

The studio in Eindhoven had been well equipped for

Figure 10. Beate Christina Koepnick,

production, and since Raaijmakers had agreed to move

Bruno Maderna and Walter Maas in

to Utrecht with the equipment, it had been possible to

the Bilthoven studio, 1960s.

continue the studio’s activities almost without interruption. After the Philips studio moved to Utrecht, Raaijmakers obtained the position of scientific member of staff, which

Figure 11. Dick Raaijmakers and Leidi Kiewiet in the Utrecht University electronic music studio, April 1961.

was a considerable promotion. Vermeulen saw Raaijmakers as his eventual successor, partly because he thought Raaijmakers would guarantee the continuation of the studio’s original mission. However, with the studio placed much more centrally in Utrecht, Raaijmakers quickly became aware of other trends in the arts in the Netherlands and realized how isolated he had been working in Eindhoven. He radically changed course, trying to catch up through his own compositional work and intensive collaboration with some of the composers who had worked in the Delft studio before it closed. In the meantime, tension between Vermeulen and Raaijmakers was increasing,35 which soon led to Vermeulen’s request that the university accept his resignation as of October 1, 1961. Although the minutes of the CEM assemblies do not note the problematic situation in Utrecht, it was Bomli, the organization’s chairman, who now felt the need to intervene. He wrote a letter to the secretary of the University’s board of governors, J. H. des Tombe, sending copies to Hendrik Casimir, the head of physics research at Philips Research Laboratories, and Vermeulen, in advance of a meeting scheduled for October 11, 1961. In it, he said he had asked Vermeulen “to name facts and symptoms that [could] clarify somewhat how the highly unhealthy situation between


Letter from Raaijmakers to Miep Roggen, June 21, 1961.


Copy sent to Vermeulen of a

both gentlemen [Raaijmakers and Vermeulen] had come

letter from Bomli to Des Tombe,

into being.”36 It was Bomli’s understanding that Raaijmakers

October 10, 1961, PCA NL 163.

28 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus


had taken an unacceptable stance. Raaijmakers had refused to cooperate with Vermeulen but was convinced he could not be fired. Apparently, “Mr. R. was suffering from severe overstrain, or he had behaved in a highly insubordinate manner.” Bomli regretted the fact that Vermeulen had tendered his resignation. On the other hand, he could understand it, since there appeared to have been a “breakdown of authority” at STEM. It should formally be made clear to Raaijmakers that

Gottfried Michael Koenig at Gaudeamus and the Bilthoven Electronic Music Course

he was “working under the authority of Mr. Vermeulen and should act accordingly.” If he was not willing to cooperate with Vermeulen, then logically he should leave. According to Des Tombe, if an artistic director was needed at STEM, there was

In June 1961, Walter Maas had written Gottfried Michael

“only one man in the Netherlands musically and technically

Koenig in Cologne to ask whether he was willing to give

qualified for the position: Henk Badings.” Vermeulen had done

a series of lectures at 1961’s Gaudeamus Muziekweek,

his best to give free access to the studio to other composers

scheduled to take place from September 2 to 9. The week

besides Badings. But now that the studio was

would also feature a concert of electronic music, programmed with the help of Philips and STEM. After discussing Maas’ request with Stockhausen, Koenig said yes.39 Koenig

[…] at risk of being taken over by a relatively small group of so-called young composers, there [was] only one good and decent solution: to give Badings leadership of what he himself [had] built up from the ground, and that [had] established an excellent reputation in the world because of his efforts.

ended up playing a more prominent role. He directed the composers’ course and gave no fewer than six lectures, including the opening speech on September 2. The lectures were titled “Die musikalische Zeit” (Musical time), “Aleatorik und serielles Komponieren” (Aleatorics and serial composi39

June 22, 1961; Koenig’s private collection. G. M. Koenig, Ästhetische Praxis:



By the end of 1961, Raaijmakers decided to leave STEM.

Music in space), “Harmonik und andere Parameter” (Harmony and other parameters), “Aspekte der gegenwärtigen

Texte zur Musik: Band 1, 1954–1961

Instrumentalmusik” (Aspects of contemporary instrumental

(Saarbrücken: Pfau Verlag, 1991),

music) and “Stand der elektronischen Musik in Deutschland”

224–97. English translations

(The state of electronic music in Germany). 40

G. M. Koenig, Process and Form:

installed as the new director of STEM.38 There was still no

30 – PART 4

tion), “Musikalische Grafik: Musik im Raum” (Musical graphics:

of the first four lectures in

On October 22, 1962, Vermeulen resigned, and Badings was educational program.

Letter from Koenig to Maas,

Selected Writings on Music, ed.

Koenig returned to Germany after 1961 Gaudeamus



Kees Tazelaar, trans. Richard

Muziekweek. Apart from Vink’s technical instruction, the


Minutes of the CEM assembly

Barrett (Hofheim: Wolke Verlag,

composers working in the Bilthoven studio were now on

of December 20, 1962.

2018), 138–192.

their own again. In April 1962, a committee consisting of

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus

CEM members Kees van Baaren, a composer and director

Koenig’s course launched with a press event on October 24,

of the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague; Oscar van Hemel,

1962; those invited included the mayor of Bilthoven, Kok,

a composer and secretary of the Koninklijke Nederlandse

De Leeuw, Badings, the heads of the Dutch broadcasting

Toonkunstenaars Vereniging; and Donemus director André

companies, and representatives of STEM and of the Ministry

Jurres visited the CEM studio to listen to compositions and

of Education, Arts and Sciences. 44 Koenig wrote a speech

studies that had been realized there over the past year.

of no fewer than twelve pages for the occasion. It began

The following day, they reported back to the assembly.

by describing how difficult it was for young composers to

Their conclusion was that the music was all rather naive and

gain access to electronic music studios. Music academies

amorphous and didn’t make much sense. Jurres believed that a

offered young people classes in instrumental performance,

composer’s guidance was necessary for creating good work.41

conducting and composition, and even self-study could yield results, he explained. But electronic music study was strongly

Maas had in fact already asked Koenig if he would be willing

connected with practical work in a studio, and the technical

to come to the Netherlands to teach in the studio four days

expense of installing one by far exceeded an individual’s

a month. The next month, Koenig returned to talk with

financial means. As a result, the few existing studios had

Maas, Bomli and Carel Brons, a composer and head of the

a monopoly. According to Koenig, Stockhausen had been

VARA broadcasting company’s music department, about the

conscious of this monopoly from the beginning and, being

possibility of running an electronic music composition course.

privileged enough to work in an electronic music studio, had

Koenig was chosen because he was a composer and longtime

felt a “moral obligation” to publish the results of his research in

staff member of the electronic studio in Cologne with a good

the form of articles and lectures, “so that at least theoretically,

professional reputation. The course would be open to a wide

everyone could participate. Stockhausen simultaneously

circle of interested composers, musicians, musicologists,

worked on behalf of his colleagues.”45 All this was reason

educators, critics and technicians desiring a general

enough to warmly welcome the installation of the studio

introduction to the artistic and technical questions raised

in Bilthoven. For Koenig, however, it had other important

by electronic music. 42 Whereas Kok’s lessons in the TH Delft

functions besides composition training. Electronic music not

studio had been purely technical, Koenig embedded technical

only enriched instrumental music with new sound colors and

subjects in discussions of composition theory. Furthermore,

spatial effects, “it invalidate[d] the traditional division of labor

the lessons in Delft had been aimed primarily at Dutch


composers, while the course in Bilthoven had an international orientation from the start. The brochure was printed in German as well as Dutch and sent to Darmstadt, Germany, by early July so it could be seen by participants in the 1962




that the musical tone [was] not an indivisible element.”

G. M. Koenig, Ästhetische Praxis: Texte zur Musik: Band 2,

Letter from Koenig to Maas,

1962–1967 (Saarbrücken: Pfau Verlag, 1992), 56–57.

Koenig’s course in Bilthoven was a success from the start, and all 28 students were enthusiastic. Just before it started,

Minutes of the CEM assemblies

Vink had finished building a self-designed mixing desk;

Minutes of the CEM assembly

of October 10 and December 20,

he then planned to build a ring modulator. 46 A reverberation

of July 16, 1962.


plate was made available by Radio Nederland Wereldomroep,

collection. 43

between composer and interpreter; in addition, it show[ed]

of October 10, 1962. of April 5, 1962. May 13, 1962; Koenig’s private

edition of the International Summer Course for New Music. 43

32 – PART 4

Minutes of the CEM assembly

Minutes of the CEM assembly

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands


75 Years Gaudeamus


the Dutch overseas radio broadcasting organization. Koenig’s handouts of assignments for the students to work on in his absence give a clear impression of the studio’s capabilities, which were rather limited even for 1962. For instance, dynamic

Gottfried Michael Koenig at STEM

envelopes could not be created with a tone gate47 but had to be made manually: an envelope that started with a sharp attack followed by a decay was made by turning on the sound with a switch or plugging in a cable and then turning

Meanwhile, STEM was deep in crisis. Apart from the lessons

down the level with a knob. 48 The studio, located in a small

that Badings gave for his Utrecht University musicology

garden house on the Gaudeamus property, was so tiny that

students, there was still no educational program. Moreover,

in order to play a long tape loop, the door had to be opened

Badings was frequently absent because of his professorship

and the loop run into the garden. 49 The course was repeated

in Stuttgart, his second journey to Australia and his lectures

from October 1963 to June 1964, and almost all the students

at Point Park College in Pittsburgh. The university’s board

registered a second time.50

of governors did not believe Badings’ position in Stuttgart could be combined with his responsibilities in Utrecht, and he was therefore supposed to resign from STEM by the end of the 1962–1963 academic year.51 In May 1963, Des Tombe asked Koenig whether he was interested in 47

A tone gate is an electronic device

taking over Badings’ position at STEM.52 This was certainly

that uses an external signal to

attractive to Koenig from an artistic point of view, but

control the amplitude of a sound. 48

See assignment 3 for the

whether opportunities in the Netherlands would be reason

Bilthoven electronic music

enough for him to leave Cologne remained to be seen.

course, 1964–1965, as printed in

In a letter to CEM chairman Bomli on May 5, 1963, Koenig

G. M. Koenig, Ästhetische Praxis: Texte zur Musik: Band 5, Supplement


uni­versiteit”, Utrechts Nieuwsblad,

2002), 56.

December 11, 1962: 5.

said he was considering a move to the Netherlands if he were to continue as supervisor of the Bilthoven course in combination with becoming artistic director of STEM.

Letter from Koenig to Bomli,

That situation would also allow for close collaboration

to the author, December 2, 2004.

May 5, 1963; Koenig’s private

between the educational studio in Bilthoven and the

Zupko was a 1965–1966 Bilthoven


production studio in Utrecht.53 It was decided that Koenig

Letter from Koenig to Bomli,

would become artistic director of the studio in mid-1964.54

Ramon Zupko, email message



May 5, 1963; Koenig’s private

Letter from Koenig to Dr. Horst,


cultural attaché of the German

Letter from Koenig to Jean-Pierre

Just as Koenig had foreseen, collaboration between STEM

July 1, 1963; Koenig’s private

Wilhelm, December 22, 1963;

and the course in Bilthoven intensified. STEM began hosting


Koenig’s private collection.

the course, while its students used the Bilthoven studio for

embassy in the Netherlands,

34 – PART 4

“Situatie ir. Badings aan

II (Saarbrücken: Pfau Verlag,

course participant. 50


Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands


75 Years Gaudeamus

Figure 12. Gaudeamus Muziekweek

practical assignments, and many compositions that were

participants visit STEM in

started there were finished at STEM.

September 1964. From left: Gottfried Michael Koenig, Frank de Vries, Walter Maas and Earle Brown (staring at the ground). Sixth from right: Jan van Vlijmen.

Between 1964 and 1967, STEM was renovated, expanded and modernized in three phases. The new studios were officially presented to the press on October 18, 1967. STEM by now had a much larger share of the building on Plompetorengracht,

Figure 13. Klaus Gorter, Gottfried

with two production studios, a four-channel studio, a teaching

Michael Koenig and Jaap Vink in

studio and a microphone recording room.55 Lectures were

the Bilthoven studio, 1963.

given in the lecture hall of the Theologisch Instituut, which was housed in the same building. The practical duties of the Bilthoven course – whose lessons STEM had been hosting since 1964 – could now be taken over too.56 The last electronic music course in Bilthoven hosted by STEM took place from October 1966, to June 1967. After that, the Bilthoven studio continued to operate independently of STEM. On the day of the official presentation of the new studios, it was decided to change STEM’s name to the Institute of Sonology.57 STEM had, after all, become much more than a studio for electronic music production. Its activities now included research, education and the organization of concerts, which the university believed should be reflected in a new name. The first year-long sonology course began in 1967.


Bob Malmberg, “Muziek beheerst leven van Gottfried Koenig”, Nieuw Utrechts Dagblad, August 26, 1967.


Brochure, Contactorgaan Elektronische Muziek, after 1967, 7.


Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht, “Profielschets van het Instituut voor Sonologie”, June 1977.

36 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus



From the moment that electronic music composition made its first appearance, Walter Maas understood that it should not be regarded as something merely fashionable and thus divorced from music tradition. At a time when the musical climate in the Netherlands was largely characterized by conservatism and skepticism toward the avant-garde, Maas and his CEM ensured the existence of moral and institutional support for composers and musicians

Figure 14. Jaap Vink at the Institute of Sonology, 1970s.

programs, and every Dutch institution that deals today with electronic music is indebted to them.

who did take the new medium seriously, and

On the other hand, one could argue that trying

who perceived its inextricable link to musical

to define electronic music before a studio for

innovation. To this end he gratefully made use of

composers even existed was objectionable.

his international network, ensuring that much

According to Jan Boerman, a definition, if needed

needed practical and theoretical expertise was

at all, should result from practical experiments.

brought from abroad. Maas and the CEM played

Finding out the nature of electronic sound

a decisive role in the establishment of electronic music studios and their associated educational

38 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands


Jan Boerman, in conversation with the author, The Hague, June 20, 2008.

material was his main motive for becoming active in the studio in Delft in 1959. 58

75 Years Gaudeamus

Would you like to learn more about Walter Maas and CEM? Look into Kees Tazelaar’s timeline on

This is a publication of

Editing Henk Heuvelmans (Gaudeamus) and

Stichting Gaudeamus Muziekweek.

Studio Lonne Wennekendonk

Final editing: Marisa Tempel (Gaudeamus) and Studio Lonne Wennekendonk author Kees Tazelaar concept and design Studio Lonne Wennekendonk figures Author’s collection: 5, 6, 8 , 9; Philips Company Archives, 2, 4; Netherlands Music Institute: 3, 7, 10; Institute of Sonology: 1, 11, 12, 13; Floris van Manen / Stichting Klankschap, 14 quote on cover Gottfried Michael Koenig, “Bilthoven

© Kees Tazelaar and Gaudeamus 2020

Course 1961/62” in Process and Form: Selected Writings

With thanks to the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds,

(Hofheim: Wolke Verlag, 2018), 192.

K.F. Heinfonds and the Fentener van Vlissingen Fonds.

printing Efficiënta

on Music, ed. Kees Tazelaar, trans. Richard Barrett

Gaudeamus has done its utmost to notify all legal claimants. Any person claiming rights to material contained herein is Special thanks to V2_Publishing

40 – PART 4

requested to contact Gaudeamus.

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

75 Years Gaudeamus

42 – PART 4

Walter Maas & the Contact­orgaan Elektronische Muziek: A Lifeline for Electronic Music in the Netherlands

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