One of the leading Dutch composers of his generation. He studied at the Utrecht Conservatory with Ton de Leeuw (1962-69), and taught musical theory and composition in Groningen (1974-77), Hilversum (1977-1984), Utrecht (1984-1996) and Amsterdam (1989-96). He also gave master classes in Christiansand (1984), Houston (1987) and Manchester (1988).
In 1976 Keuris gained wide public acclaim when he won the prestigious Matthijs Vermeulen Prize for his Sinfonia for Orchestra (1974). Even in this early work were traces of the hedonistic and Dionysian qualities that Keuris permits himself in his music from time to time qualities which were to appear later in the breathtaking virtuosity and brilliant orchestration of the Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra (1986).
In 1982, Keuris received the Cultural Award of Hilversum for his Piano Concerto (1980) and the Movements for Orchestra (1981), which were performed by Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on their 1982 US tour. Keuris composed the expressive Clarinet Quintet for the centenary of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 1988 and, for the centenary of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in the same year, was commissioned to write Catena for Wind Orchestra and Percussion. Other major commissions include Symphonic Transformations (1987) for the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Three Michelangelo Songs (1990) for Jard van Nes, the Concerto for Two Cellos (1992), the song-cycle Laudi (1993) for Netherlands Radio, the orchestral Three Preludes (1994) for the Kondrashin Competition, and Arcade for Orchestra (1995) for the opening of the new studio of the Radio Philhamonic Orchestra in Hilversum, The Netherlands.
Most of Keuris' works are influenced by a mixture of expansive Romantic gestures and Stravinskian aloofness, combined with a musical language consisting of exploded fragmented melodies, dramatic harmonic shifts and tightly-knit chords, all dramatically juxtaposed with moments of stillness or harmonic inertia. Keuris' many orchestral scores reveal him to be a brilliant orchestrator, who enjoyed exploring every imaginable combination of sounds and colours, without indulging in technical superficialities. From the late 1980s, Keuris' vocal scores such as To Brooklyn Bridge (1988-9), Three Michelangelo Songs (1990), L'Infinito (1990) and Laudi (1993) proved influential in the development of a richer harmonic language with broader melodic lines. In the 1990s his style evolved to a more overtly romantic expressiveness, albeit still embedded in masterly and brilliant orchestrations, as in Three Preludes for orchestra (1994), Symphony in D (1995), Violin Concerto no.2 (1995) and Arcade for orchestra (1995).
© 2004 Leo Samama .