Troonrede – A ‘One Minute Symphony’ by Maarten Bauer

It’s the third Tuesday in September, which means in The Hague: It’s Prinsjesdag! Our new students might wonder what all the fuss is about…lots of police and lots of horses will be present in the city today, and if you are lucky, you can get a glimpse of Maxima and Willem Alexander in their Golden Coach, riding through The Hague.

Prinsjesdag literally means little princes’ day. On this day, the king (and before him, his mother, then the queen) addresses the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives. As the monarch sits on the throne (troon) during the speech, the Dutch call this the ‘Troonrede’.

Tonight, the Residentie Orkest will give a concert in honor of this day. It is also the first ‘One Minute Symphony’ of the season, one of several projects the Koninklijk Conservatorium is doing jointly with the Residentie Orkest.

For Prinsjesdag, composition student Maarten wrote the piece ‘Troonrede’ which will be premiered tonight by the Residentie Orkest. Premiering a piece is a thrilling moment for composer and conductor alike. Will the composer be happy with the conductor’s interpretation of his piece? What if things don’t go as planned? Maarten was present at two of the rehearsals and shared his vision with conductor Nicholas Collon and the orchestra. When asking Maarten whether he was happy with the outcome, he said: It is a wonderful experience to work with such a professional orchestra and Collon is very insightful. It was actually already perfect, when they played it the first time for me.

In his composition, Maarten tries to illustrate the concept of Prinsjesdag. Four lines of melodies and rhythms represent the different political parties coming together on this day. They do have one common factor: They are all written in a pentatonic system. So, no matter how diverse their political positions are (the dissent is represented by the different rhythms), they do find a consensus on Prinsjesdag. Above them, a high tone hovers (played by the timpani), independently from the harmonic system. The timpani represent the king, overlooking the politicians. He stays neutral, he only observes. Maarten was inspired by Indonesian Gamelan music, which also uses pentatonic accords. If you would like to know more about Maarten’s composition journey, check out his vlogs on the YT channel of the Residentie Orkest. We wish Maarten good luck with his premiere tonight and are looking forward to a new season full of exciting projects with the Residentie Orkest.

(Header photo by: Martijn Beekman for the Rijksoverheid: Troonrede 2019- photo beneath: Residentie Orkest)