Living Legacy

Theo's passing inspired noted musicologist, lexicographer, poet and translator Daniel Albertson to write this poem:


A stone needs no stitching,

As time spreads her cloth,

Impervious to the ways

Of the wider world,

But what of the creatures

Made of mesh and sighs?

An allotment of days

Or years, of drenchings

And thirstings, a path

Along arid acres awaiting

Shifting sands, steady streams,

Emerges to stoke the fire

Or launch a dream;

For what threads there were,

Threads there will be.

(With permission, © Daniel Albertson, 2019)


Gerard Boeters wrote a beautiful ‘in memoriam’ for Theo on his facebookpage:

In memoriam Theo Verbey

'The totally unexpected news of Theo’s death came as a complete shock. I hadn’t seen it coming.
I knew Theo for a very long time. When we first met, just before we gave a performance together, I was 13 and he was 14. He played the trumpet and I accompanied him on the piano. For years, we went to the same school and often performed together at official school occasions (the annual promotio scholarum). The last piece we played there was Intrada by Honegger. During those school years, Theo composed an octet for piano, two percussionists and five wind and string players. It was octotonic and began in asymmetric 8/8 time, and was written in his characteristic notation. Theo conducted the work himself. The make-up of the ensemble was based on our circle of friends at the time. We all went to concerts together, often met up on a weekly basis and played for each other at house concerts that we organised ourselves. We once performed Credo In Us by John Cage with piano, (the same) two percussionists and Theo operating the radio. Theo also composed a work (Caprice Symphonique) around that time for brass band, with an intensive percussion part involving timpani, once more for those two from the group, and with an obligato piano part which I got to play. It started with a solo piano cadenza based on piled-up fifths, which despite its large scale was sensitive and mysterious. The performance of this piece remains a precious memory.

Later, when we were students, and even though I lived a long way away, Theo made the journey to bring me a solo piano work, the Nocturne (1980). It has an open central section as a gesture of solidarity for the pianist to fill in individually; in the version for me, it was based on my initials. I was studying with Jan Wijn at the time and played it to him; I also performed it at one of Wijn’s ‘evenings’ when Theo was present. Jan Wijn was full of praise for him, making a connection with Alban Berg in terms of expressive power. It was only much later that I found out that this work (with the exception of that middle section) was based on Peter Schat’s toonklok (sound clock). I have often played the piece in recitals and on other occasions.

We were colleagues at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague for the last 20 years. I shall sorely miss the great conversations we had when we met by chance. My deepest condolences to his wife and close family on their unimaginable loss.' (Translated from the Dutch by Mike Wilcox)

Diemer de Vries was one of Theo’s colleagues from the Delfts Symphonie Orkest and the Royal Conservatoire The Hague

'When Theo was young, about 15 or so, we sometimes gave him a lift to rehearsals and concerts of our community orchestra, the Delfts Symphonie Orkest. He played the trumpet then, although he later switched to bassoon, and played in the same section as my former partner, Nel. Theo told us that sometimes, when he couldn't sleep, he would imagine arranging piano works by Shostakovich or Stravinsky for a huge orchestra, "sumptuous, with two contrabassoons." I was impressed at the time. When I heard his later orchestral works, I often thought back to what he'd said.

I taught for many years at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague – not as a musician, but as an acoustician, as part of a course in music recording. From time to time I'd run into Theo. The first was when he was still a student, taking a practical course in electronic music. The recording equipment had somehow malfunctioned, and he ended up hopelessly entwined in audiotape – I gave him a hand, helped disentangle him.... ' 






Pianist  Andrea Vasi remembers Theo Verbey: “Name, age, contact information, instrument and teacher.” These were the things we had to write down for Theo in my very first lesson. My instrument (piano) and teacher (Ellen Corver) seemed to be popular with him, so we started talking and didn't stop for the next six years of my studies at the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague. A little awkward at first, he turned out to be one of the most friendly, humble, intelligent, funny and gentle persons I’ve ever known. I signed up for any subject he would teach, and asked him to be my advisor for my master's thesis (or actually… he offered to be!). I loved the guy.

When I started my collaboration with Sebastiaan Kemner (trombone), it was evident we would ask Theo to write a piece for us – since he’d already written a trombone concerto (LIED) for Sebastiaan’s teacher (Jörgen van Rijen), and a piano concerto for mine. And so he did. He found the combination quite odd, but he did a wonderful job, and his ‘Ballade’ is an extremely valuable asset to the repertoire. We were absolutely honored and excited, and quite nervous when he – and his wife Eileen – visited our concerts in Haarlem (the premiere) and Nunspeet. I, and many of my colleagues, are determined to keep his legacy and memories alive. Theo, may you rest in peace. 

Contemporary Classical Music Composer

Theo Verbey (5 July 1959-13 October 2019) was the Dutch composer of modern classical music best known for his elegant and rhythmically transparent compositions, characterized by careful and rich instrumentation. His contemporary classical music makes a real connection with listeners.

To purchase or rent sheet music or scores

Theo Verbey's music is published by
Deuss Music
Fijnjekade 160
2521 DS Den Haag, Netherlands
Tel.: +31 (0)70 345 08 65

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