Vindu Mot Havet
(2000) 12’’
Tune for Rotterdam 2001 - Cultural Capital of Europe (together with Lars Skoglund)

listen: tune2001

(2000) 4’30’’
picc.-trpt, trpt, 2trb, hrn, tb

written for: Rotterdam Philharmonic Brass (for the official opening ceremony of Rotterdam 2001 - Cultural Capital Of Europe)
first performance: Rotterdam Philharmonic Brass, Rotterdam, 2000
performed since: by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Brass in the Netherlands

“(A) musical highlight in De Doelen on Friday was the brass ensemble from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra with their performance of Urmast (Florian Magnus Maier)”

- Maasstad, Rotterdam / NL, 31.1.2001

"Vindu Mot Havet" was to be the tune of Rotterdam 2001 - Cultural Capital of Europe, and there was much rejoicing for Lars and me when the commission went to us. Subsequently, each of us had to work out the tune into a piece of 4-5 minutes for the grand opening of the Cultural Capital.
I love the tune, and I'm still proud of it. I despise Urmast. Here's the story:

I guess it was what you'd call a learning experience, and a classic example of "too many cooks spoil the broth". When we got the assignment for the 10-12-second-tune, these were the things it had to have. It had to:

- be immediately recognizable by anybody, anywhere
- be extremely original
- represent Rotterdam in sound and character
- express the "motto" of Rotterdam 2001: "Rotterdam is many cities" (whatever, fantastic work guys...)
- represent the multiculturality of Rotterdam (194 nationalities)
- represent the worker's mentality of Rotterdam
- be playable before any event of R'dam 2001, with any available instrumentation
- work as a ringtone

... and some other things, it was 2 full pages. They gave the commission to 2 students, not one, so they would complement each other. (Lars was in the Jazz department at that time.) The two of us were happy to share these 10 seconds of fame, but it didn't end there, since both our teachers had to give their blessing to the tune (not a problem, either...) before it went to the mills of the monstrous organization of R2001.

Furthermore, we each got to write a piece for the opening, based on the tune. Somebody decided that I'd have to write that piece for brass sextet, because of the high level of brass players in our town. The only problems were that a) I had never written for brass, and at that time I didn't even like it, and b) that it was gonna be a big question if the tune would be adaptable for these, well, rather sluggish instruments. To all these kind of guys out there: You get better music if you ask the composer what he wants to do, rather than masturbating over concepts that make no sense and forcing otherwise talented and original makers to comply to ideas that are great only on paper.

Well, so far, so good. We soon realized that the list of demands was idiotic, so we decided to use a 32nd-note melody (we had only 3 bars, after all, to express all that!) and use a different instrument for every note. This was accompanied by a riff (inevitable), a beat (Rotterdam is the city of techno), and a layer of industrial noises and a boat horn, since that's what Rotterdam sounds like. Everyone was happy with the tune, even if it wasn't "playable before any event of R'dam 2001, with any available instrumentation". (F**k that, anyway.)

So we had this great tune (I'm still cracking up when I hear it), and I had to set it for brass. I wrote a first version I was happy with, but one of my teachers (not Klaas!) complained that it's too easy to play, that there were too many long notes and not enough modernism (= chromatic chaos) in it. So I wrote down what I had rather successfully avoided till then, contemporary music that sounds like crap and that no-one wants to hear. The time came, there was one single rehearsal of 1 hour, and the piece sounded in its underrehearsed and artistically mutilated form in Rotterdam's biggest hall. It was a desaster, the queen of Holland and the entire Dutch cabinet were there, and it was live on national TV. This is why I don't put any audio clips here ;-)

(This just goes to show that the most prestigious commissions, the ones that cost the most nerves and adrenaline, more often than not have a tendency to explode in your face. At the time I wrote this piece, I also wrote Afterglow, which was premiered in front of 90 people in a tiny hall, and I consider it one of my best works still. It earned me a bunch of nominations and scholarships, was picked up by different ensembles in Holland, and I just wrote down what I heard in my head.)

The end of this story was that the tune, for some reason, wasn't really used much, and that both Lars and me were cheated out of our author's rights by the organization. Well, before the year 2001 was over, the whole Cultural Capital fell down anyway, so good riddance from my part.

I'm kind of withdrawing Urmast from my list of works. Nevertheless, I want to add my program note of it here, which was censored out of the program book of the opening gala:

Initially, I wanted to call this piece Masturpiece, because of all the blown-up crap around it. Seeing that that would be a little infantile, I called it Urmast ("primordial pole" in German) because of Rotterdam's (rather pathetic) trademark monument, the Euromast, crowned with the ABN-Amro logo (Holland's largest bank then). That thing looks like a syringe stuck into the city, and in my mind I saw it injecting everybody's daily dose of cash
into the city. The area where I live in Rotterdam was full of junkies then, and I wondered, if you replace dope with money, are we all anything else than junkies? If the cash machines don't supply you with their stuff, you die miserably. Well, I guess the Dutch government didn't want to read that...

FMM vindupre

FMM urmastpre
FMM urmast2pre