Guus Janssen, a true legend retires from the Composition department

Very little composers have such an enormous influence on Dutch musical life as Guus Janssen. Born in Heilo in 1951 he made a career as the maverick of Dutch musical life. Radical, witty, ironic, virtuosic, and always far from the beaten track Guus operates in his own universe. Often playing with the great international improvisers, touring around the world, performing in the most prestigious concert halls but also in small villages in Europe’s remote corners with local heroes. Outstanding are his duo’s with his brother Wim Janssen on drums and also unforgettable the trio with his friend Paul Termos on alto sax.

Guus Janssen as a composer decorated with many prizes (two oeuvre prizes!) and many awards is the champ of the balance between the logical and the illogical. His music might make you laugh but is profoundly serious at the same time. Crystal clear structured, never pathetic, and always highly original in colour and discourse. Guus collaborated with all major orchestras, ensembles, and soloists in Holland. His work can be controversial. He made a scandal as a youngster with his orchestra piece Toonen in Donau Eschingen but later had huge success with his opera Noach he made with painter Karel Appel on a libretto by his lifelong librettist Friso Haverkamp.

In 2007 Guus decided after many years of turning down proposals by various conservatories to become part of the team of composition teachers at the Composition Department of the Royal Conservatoire The Hague. The wisdom, craftsmanship, artistic insights, knowledge as a musician and radical thinking were incredible important not only for the many students he met during the fifteen years of his career at the conservatoire but as important for the development of the team of teachers and their philosophy as well. A great colleague, a very warm teacher, a humanist, a playful man, and artist but also severe and very principal in his opinions when asked for.

We are sad to say farewell to Guus but incredible happy for the fifteen years he wanted to spend with us. Guus will remain a big inspiration and an artistic compass for many years to come!

Martijn Padding
Head of the Composition Department

Copyright photo: Gemma van der Heyden (voor JazzNu)