articles & reviews

In Memorium Theo Verbey
In memoriam Theo Verbey
On 13 October 2019 Theo Verbey passed away, at the age of 60. Theo was a member of the DFSMTand, especially at the beginning of society’s existence, very involved in its activities. He meant a great deal for Dutch music theory, above all in his role as a teacher of music theory, arranging and orchestration, a role that he fulfilled at both the Royal Conservatory in the Hague and at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. He was a beloved docent who always left a great impression upon his students with his broad and deep knowledge of the history and development of the art of instrumentation, as well as with his immaculate arrangements and orchestrations. He took his teaching duties extremely seriously. With every orchestration assignment he gave to his students he would completely work out his own solution, so that students each week could have a look into the workshop of the master. And for all of his students he meticulously noted down the results of their work, which we maintained for years afterwards as a way of following the fruits of his labor, and of that of the conservatory. Theo was also held in high regard by his colleagues. No one could dispute his authority as theorist and orchestrator; and the thoughtful way in which he approached the students outside of his classroom was well known. And he showed the same kind of thoughtfulness in his daily contact with colleagues, which always displayed the utmost professionalism and well-informedness.As a composer Theo held an important place in the Dutch musical landscape. His rich and accessible way of composing easily attracted musicians and the general public alike, and for him, it was self-evident that his music would occupy a place within the Western Classical music tradition. You could say in turn that in his work you could clearly hear that he was also a theorist. As such he belonged to a dying species, the composer-theorist: in the Netherlands he was one of the last binding factors between two disciplines that have been bound to one another since time immemorial. For those who were fortunate enough to know Theo personally, you would know that he was not very different at home than he was in his classroom: extremely engaging and gentle, sometimes reserved, but always cordial. He enjoyed conversation over a glass of wine about his favorite topics —music of course, but also literature, politics and his home Amsterdam —and always did so with the utmost respect, even when it concerned a difference of opinion. Even if he had a clear opinion about a topic, he was always nuanced, and he never doled out a quick judgement. His gentle and careful nature, his helpfulness, his keen spirit and his knowledge of the music which was dear to him will be remembered by all who were fortunate enough to cross paths with him.
By Ralf Pisters
The Dutch-Flemish Society for Music Theory (Vereniging voor Muziektheorie)
Death of leading Dutch composer, 60
The inventive composer Theo Verbey died on October 13 after a long illness.

Having made his name with a widely performed orchestration of Alban Berg’s first piano sonata, he went on to focus on intricate instrumentation in concert works that often proclaimed an historical perspective.

His orchestral work, After the Great War, was premiered in the Hague three days before his death. By Norman Lebrecht
on October 27, 2019
Slipped Disk
Santtu-Matias Rouvali makes versatile debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
[...] Ariadne, like Verdi’s overture, combines transparent lyricism with dramatic progression. Starting out with fragile flute figures, it swells to include the full complement of strings. When the whole range of the brass comes in with a driving motif, there is sinister menace. The piece constantly changes colour and texture, making use of the whole orchestra. Before all the sections unite for a final restrained crescendo, an ethereal violin solo rises, haloed by a harp. Although Verbey didn’t describe the work programmatically, it was easy to imagine the Cretan princess’s thread unwinding in the woodwinds and the rumbling monster charging in the horns. Ariadne is a highly gratifying swansong and the RCO gave it a lustrous world premiere.[...] by Jenny Camilleri
Opera Today
Theo Verbey (1959 - 2019) created euphonic music following strict mathematical principles
Guido van Oorschot, 22 October 2019,
"There was a remarkable paradox about the Dutch composer, Theo Verbey: he wrote music according to the strictest mathematical principles but his audience simply heard beautiful sound. It has been announced that Verbey died on 13 October at the age of 60, three days after the Dutch premiere of his orchestral work, After the Great War. He had been ill for some time and his funeral was held in private.
Verbey was not considered a prodigy although he did write his first piece at the age of seven. He studied music theory followed by composition at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague under Jan van Vlijmen and Peter Schat. Verbey shot to fame in 1993 when the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and its chief conductor, Riccardo Chailly, programmed a student work of his, a sumptuously coloured orchestration of Alban Berg's Piano Sonata Op. 1.
And there we have the second paradox around Theo Verbey: critics were generally respectful in their praise of his compositions but kept their rave reviews for when he used his skills in instrumentation to make other people’s music shine. In 2009, he supplied a masterly completion to Igor Stravinsky’s Les Noces, or at least to the forgotten ‘folksy’ version of this village wedding piece, which includes the use of the pianola and cimbalom and which Stravinsky himself left unfinished.
In his early years, Verbey was in step with his composer colleagues. He wrote pieces for specialist groups such as the Nieuw Ensemble and the Asko Ensemble. His music sounded clear and was always balanced; and he never shunned beautiful melody. He increasingly often used fractal mathematics, with recurring numerical relationships similar in every detail. “It sounds hugely complex”, wrote de Volkskrant [newspaper] about Verbey’s Fractal Symphony in 2005 – only to go on to compare the composer to an architect who, after unfathomable hocus-pocus, finally ends up with a little farmhouse.
Mild-mannered Verbey was not the man to complain about such teasing. He was admired for what he could do and had no lack of work. Just a few short weeks ago, he delivered the score of what now appears to have been his last work, the orchestral piece Ariadne. This fact will give a melancholy feel to its world premiere by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on 30 January."
Translated by Mike Wilcox
De Volkskrant
Gloriously Rocking Chameleon
"Boldin dedicated the concert to the Dutch composer Theo Verbey, who died in October. His Four preludes to Infinity for oboe, violin, viola and cello came right after intermission. Each prelude recalls and recognizes the music of former times and celebrates its perpetual existence: “Mysterious” — the Second Viennese School of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern; “Restless” — the Russian avant-garde Prokofiev and Shostakovich, depicted with incessant motion; “Religious” — the German Baroque Bach, Handel and Telemann, with rich tonalities and liturgical sounds; and “Luminous” — the French Impressionism of Debussy, Ravel and Dukas. The exceptional ensemble of Nancy Dimock, oboe; Francesca DePasquale, violin; Caitlyn Lynch, viola; and Rafael Popper-Keizer, cello; executed to perfection."
Boston Musical Intelligencer
A talented radical who became a masterful traditionalist
"Composer Theo Verbey was a talented radical who became a masterful traditionalist, one of the greatest craftsmen Dutch music has ever known"
Dated 30 October by Bas van Putten for De Groene Amsterdammer.
"Theo Verbey was rightly heralded in the 1980s as one of the most talented young Dutch composers. His earliest pieces, including Aura (1985) and Inversie (1987) for ensemble, and Expulsie (1988-1990) for large ensemble, were as rigorous as their titles, music Boulez-like in its inaccessible complexity. Restless, modernistic, highly intellectual art produced by a young man bent on knowing how many balls he could keep in the air, with the ecstatic melancholy of a capacity on the border of imagination. In the third and fourth movements of Expulsie, you hear that brain piling up layered, multi-part harmonic sections, an incredible experience for those hearing it. He talked about fractals, mathematical principles of structure in self-replicating figures of sound. Early photographs of Verbey show an introverted nerd turning away from the camera.
He grew tired of this cold discipline in the 1990s. There was too much culture in him for him to ignore the past. He decided “to write more simply”. The gestures in Expulsie are already becoming more traditional and, in Triade (1991), the old triad appears on parade. In later pieces, Verbey did indeed become more traditional, a composer of ‘normal’ orchestral works and solo concertos. Nonetheless, more appears to have remained from the past than his critics, and perhaps even he himself, realised. There was no sudden change of style. The nervous density remained, the mathematics of a DNA rooted in euphony. Fractal Symphony and the Fractal Variations for string orchestra appeared in 2004 and 2005. From then on, his enormous knowledge of the entire history of music could be heard in his orchestral works; he embraced that history in his transcriptions as well. His orchestral arrangement of Alban Berg's Piano Sonata Op. 1 became well-known, featured by conductor Riccardo Chailly on concert programmes all over the world and recorded by him for Decca Records. Verbey also transcribed Bach, Berg, Mussorgsky, Scriabin, Richard Strauss and Stravinsky.
And, 21 years ago, I had to interview this wizard. Acquaintances assured me that he did not wear his heart on his sleeve. I learned something of the bouts of depression he had suffered from. He turned out, though, to be a great person to interview who, in an extraordinarily restrained way, was open about the struggle with his life and his place in the world. Someone else might have gone on and on without actually revealing anything; Verbey gave a detailed explanation why he preferred keeping the door locked. “There are lots of things in your life that you should keep to yourself. I’ve gone through difficult periods, and there’s something comforting in being able to share your troubles with someone who nods understandingly and confirms how awful it all was. For me, though, it’s never so interesting to listen to other people; I’ve no desire to join in with this ‘human-interest’ fad.”
That was all; now on to the art. I have seldom heard someone give such a precise and conscientious account of themselves. Together we went through the complex score of his orchestral piece, Alliage (1997). Proud, imploring music of a faultless kind, unstoppable in its rhythmical compulsion, that few Dutch composers had in them. Surging with life, as restrained as its maker, not the sort of art that burps or tells smutty jokes.
What an extraordinarily pleasant, cultured person he was.
He worked on it for five years. He fell ill after the first sketches and was out of action for a long time. When he recovered, he couldn’t identify himself in the original inception any longer. So he started anew, a courageous act in view of the size and density of the piece. “I’m not fanatical about my own music so I don’t find it difficult to look at my own notes from a distance. I couldn’t have said that a few years ago, but now I really like that distance.”
What an extraordinarily pleasant, cultured person he was. So pleasant that you tended not to notice those harsh pronouncements of his about Stockhausen’s personality, Mahler’s exhibitionism, the megalomania of Schoenberg’s Second Viennese School, with what he considered its public lie, the “idea of progress as an historical necessity”, the belief in which he had lost.
I think he just found it hard to deal with bragging. “I do realise that we have to go further, but the good thing is that we can go in any direction. And also more particularly, because over the last years I’ve started to see serialism as an interesting footnote to the achievements of the Second Viennese School, and that actually it’s only now that a healthy situation has come about, namely that you no longer know what you should be about.”
This was how he continued to be himself at a constantly high level in the vacuum of a post-historical musical age, anchored in the omnipotence of his craft, “letting himself be carried along a little by the wind”, sublimating his deepest emotions in that beautiful, unshakeable order. I still know nothing about him, and that is as it should be. An artist should only exist in his work. In a short YouTube film about his beautiful Traurig wie der Tod for choir and orchestra (2015), parts of which are very traditional, Verbey says: “I think it could be really important at the moment to step back in time and give some thought to how we now relate to the world from the relative peace and prosperity of the Netherlands, while the chaos all around us just becomes greater.” Four years later, the soft-voiced master quietly bade life farewell. What a terrible loss for art and for his family and friends."
Translated by Mike Wilcox
De Groene Amsterdamer
Love letter with musical notes written on a post-it
This necrology of the NRC describes Theo Verbey's fascination for the relationship between sound and numbers. NRC: "As a child, Theo Verbey once put a math book on the piano and started playing. In retrospect, the scene has a symbolic value, because the correspondence between sound and numbers would continue to fascinate him."
NRC Handelsblad
"Theo Verbey (1959 - 2019) was the favorite of many orchestras," headlines Trouw.
Introdans in Friedrichshafen
The music of the Dutchman Theo Verbey evokes yearning, being sometimes full of dark energy, sometimes fatefully haunting.
by Katharina von Glasenapp
Swäbishce Kultur
Introdans dances fine art – anything but insipid (4 stars)
[…] Take Regina van Berkel (1969), on the other hand. She and surrealist painter Salvador Dalí are a match made in heaven. The theatrical Frozen Echo (2011) is set to the rich orchestral composition of the same name by Theo Verbey, in which high, thin notes alternate with heavy brass, timpani and a wind machine. The eyecatcher in the fascinating stage set by Dietmar Janeck is a floating dinosaur spine made from computer monitors that are linked together. Set back from the tableau of dancers, three striking women roam around the stage in long dresses, their heads adorned with an arrangement of flowers, a feather headpiece or a short black lace veil.
In this bizarre universe, Van Berkel creates intriguing different divisions and subdivisions of the stage. With a cluster of people here and several stray individuals over there, or a compact mass that then fans out into a diagonal ribbon across the stage, she constantly creates images that you wish you could freeze and hold onto as a painting or a photograph – that’s how concretely realized and beautiful they are. The lighting, which shifts between white and color, definitely contributes to this. It’s also lovely how dynamic movement, slow-mo and standstill can often be seen coexisting simultaneously. Frozen Echo is a filmic fantasy about mankind – as strange as it is logical.
by Miriam van der Linden
16 September 2018
(translated by Emma Rault)
De Volkskrant
Introdans combines modernism with traditional ballet
[..] The first glimpse the public gets of the third piece of the evening is truly impressive. Regina van Berkel choreographed Frozen Echo in 2011 for the Ballet am Rhein in Düsseldorf to the composition of the same name by Theo Verbey. A dinosaur spine curves across the stage, made from 70 old-fashioned tube computer monitors by set designer Dietmar Janeck. A woman in a brown dress stands beneath it, her figure stark against the white backdrop, her bird’s nest updo defying gravity. She seems to be leaning on a gnarled red cane, bringing to mind the figure in the Dali painting The Burning Giraffe. Scattered across the stage, small groups of dancers help bring the composition to three-dimensional life. Verbey’s compelling music is filled with foreboding, with a prominent brass section, and is often strongly reminiscent of Stravinsky – another modernist great.
by Dick van Teylingen
15 September 2018
(translated by Emma Rault)

Introdans fits loosely beneath the umbrella of the Moderne Meisjes (‘Modern Girls’) program
Sunday 23 September 2018
[…] After the interval, the caliber is maintained as the vibe becomes playful, thanks to Regina van Berkel and a functional decor in the form of a spine from prehistoric times when giant reptiles populated this Earth. She was inspired by Salvador Dali, which does not come without its risks. Introdans’ performers more than hold their own, however. Dancing in fluid movements to the music by Theo Verbey, they skillfully evade the surrealist clichés that are always lurking. Depicting the subconscious is an art in its own right. With Frozen Echo, Introdans manages it brilliantly.
By David Levie
23 September 2018
(translated by Emma Rault)
Invitation to a Beheading
Everything that Theo Verbey does sounds terrific. It is well constructed, always has a well-structured dramatic narrative line, and is equally well elaborated in subtle instrumental colors.
Verbey uses this technical skill to make music that sounds understatedly natural, looking back with a touch of melancholy. Verbey has withdrawn to his own little musical island, where music from around 1900 fuses with a euphonious and unsentimentally postmodern idiom, outside the here and now – as well as the then and there.
‘Invitation to a Beheading’ sounds like a dark and unsentimental variant on music by Viennese composers such as Erich Korngold, Gustav Mahler, and Alban Berg, but also has something very much its own in the almost neutral and unsentimental way in which big emotions come through in it.
by Roeland Haendonk, Het Parool, 18 December 2018 (translated by Anne Hodgkinson)
Het Parool
Memory of a Shape by Introdans ****
“From complex simplicity to a tidal wave of emotions”
Regina van Berkel’s […] ‘Memory of a Shape’, created for ballettmainz in 2009, was the Dutch premiere of the evening. Van Berkel's approach uses ‘fractal figures,’ figures arising from the multiplication of a basic form. The choreography is set to Theo Verbey’s ‘Fractal Symphony,’ an exciting composition that is alternately mysteriously sheer and rhythmically driving. Large, shape-shifting objects slide into position above the stage. The dancers are bodies clustering into their final position: it is often as if they are building a sculpture right before your eyes, in which they set another body in motion, or move it.
The central figures are a solo male dancer and a woman in white on pointe, who thanks to some solid partner work, is able to show wonderful, extremely elongated classical lines. Both turn up from time to time, a bit like a sprite and a magician. The group variations follow the music carefully, and use the space to its fullest. They are hectic, sparkling, energetic, then quieting down into a freeze. ‘Memory of a Shape’ is a challenge that should be danced and seen more often: an asset.
Mirjam van der Linden, De Volkskrant, 21 February 2017
Unity in opposites: Verbey's Ballade and Dutch Classical Talent
Vasi & Kemner: unity in opposites. The programme itself is full of opposites: a succession of ballades written from circa 1300 up until a very recent piece composed in 2016: classic alternating with modern. A ballade is a piece of music with a narrative character; a form that arose in the Middle Ages. A musical journey through time unfolds before us. […]
Here, we would like to specifically mention the Ballade that was composed for this duo of trombone and piano by Theo Verbey, born in 1959. This piece consists of three sections. The first part is heavy, penetrating and stirring: we must sigh deeply, we feel the world on our shoulders. Fortunately, the 2nd part is a toccata: exciting, sparkling sounds that both literally and figuratively create air; the audience bounces back and their faces again have a sunny disposition. A Bach-like chorale follows in closing, in which the piano sounds light-footed while the trombone interjects in a languid and touching way. This is truly a masterly composition, and it was sublimely performed. […]
This is a translated excerpt.

Source: Apeldoorndirect, published 14 April 2016

By Pedro Waldenaar and Marilyn O’Brien
Translated by Keyboard Translations
Apeldoorndirect, published 14 April 2016
An evening of debuts, premieres and introductions in Eindhoven
[...] The impressive Lumen ad finem cuniculi by the Dutch composer Theo Verbey experienced a committed, lucid and vivacious première. This energetic, as well as energizing, composition was commissioned by the orchestra to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Dutch coal mines. The title “Light at the end of the tunnel” has therefore a suggestive, even a programme overtone. With this title, Verbey gave his listeners a correlation thread to follow on their way from darkness and desperation to the first radiant sparks of light. After every tunnel turn or a new sverve, the sparks flared up into stronger outbursts until the final meteoric explosion left no doubt possible about the dizzying light shining ad finem cuniculi. The composer’s musical ideas have found their form in an astounding orchestration. All orchestral sections are deserving a special attention, but the composition’s pulsing centrum was formed by two marimbas and two vibraphones. Their fundamental presence made them a real ‘light control panel’ of Theo Verbey’s new work.
By Olga de Kort, 28 October 2015
Light at the end of the tunnel, an impression
It’s an image familiar to every under-grounder: lights emerging from the walkway. Lights at the end of the tunnel. Everyone with a mine history can visualize it: those dancing and rhythmically swaying lights coming from the helmets.

Theo Verbey (*1959) wrote Lumen Ad Finem Cuniculi thanks to a commission from philharmonie zuidnederland (South Netherlands Philharmonic), as part of the 2015 Year of the Mines. This work, lasting eighteen minutes, had its world premier in Parkstad Limburg Theater in Heerlen, Netherlands. In its program book, philharmonie zuidnederland describe the piece as a vision of the future. [...] The vision of the future reaches its expression in the last movement of the work, in which you can use your own associations with the music to visualize Light at the End of the Tunnel.

Verbey paid a working visit to Heerlen when he began working on the composition. He’s a stranger to mining history, except for the fact that one of his uncles worked in the Emma Mine (DSM)in Hoensbroek.

[...] Lumen Ad Finem Cuniculi is a work for large orchestra. The philharmonie zuidnederland filled the entire concert stage, where a central role was devoted to a prominently arranged percussion group consisting of marimbas and vibraphones. If you think in terms of the mining industry, then you can almost picture the hewers in the pillars, hammering at the coal front in the visual experience of this formation.

The four-movement work - the movements are played without interruption - is very melodic. Lyrical passages with solo cello or violin are alternated with rhythms which could be reminiscent of the hard work in the mines. Verbey calls it contrast and continuity. The percussion group continuously supports the piece with the warm tones so characteristic of marimbas and vibraphones [...]
At the end, the applause which Theo Verbey received was enthusiastic, heartfelt and well-deserved.
by Nico Zijlstra 23 October 2015(trans.Keyboard Translations)
De Mijnen (
Interview: A Composer is Primarily a Songwriter
Theo Verbey: 'A composer is primarily a songwriter'
Thea Derks
Posted on Cultuurpers, 22 May 2015
The Dutch composer Theo Verbey (Delft 1959) writes music with a sumptuous beauty of sound, through which the achievements of centuries of musical tradition can be heard. He's made a name for himself with works such as Triade for orchestra (1991) and Expulsion for large ensemble (1988), and with orchestrations of pieces by composers such as Modest Mussorgsky and Alban Berg. He wrote Traurig wie der Tod for the Netherlands Radio Choir and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, for the final concert of the concert series De Vrijdag van Vredenburg. The world premier took place in the Main Hall of TivoliVredenburg on Friday 29 May, 2015.
Six questions for Theo Verbey.
In the season's brochure of De Vrijdag van Vredenburg, your new work is announced as 'Elysium'; why did you choose a different title, 'Traurig wie der Tod'?
I had been planning to compose a piece for large chorus and orchestra for some years, envisioning a 'large space in sound' and a work of considerable length. The chance to realize my plans arrived when programmer Astrid in 't Veld asked me to compose a piece for the Netherlands Radio Choir and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.
Originally I had the title Elysium in mind, named for the Greek god’s residence after their earthly life. I had already made a number of sketches, but when I was ready to turn my ideas into music in the summer of 2014, I was confronted by several profound events. The health of my mother was deteriorating, and the disaster with flight MH17 took place. Reason enough to throw away all my sketches and begin anew.
For Elysium I had a number of texts in mind, in Latin and German, from various classical poets, including Virgil and Goethe. I never got to the stage of setting the texts to music however; the chosen verses were not particularly suitable ...
Theo Verbey's facebook page
Review: Brodsky Quartet & Loré Lixenberg – ‘Trees, Walls, Cities’
'The main focus of the evening, though, was the the forty-five minute work that comprised the second half, Trees, Walls, Cities. This ‘Song Cycle for the Modern Day’ was commissioned for the 2013 City of London Festival, in collaboration with Derry’s Walled City Festival. The eight songs were named after eight international cities, with texts and music by local poets and composers. This was in part a project about reconciliation, with many of the cities featured, such as Jerusalem and Berlin, marked either presently or historically by physical walls of division. This political aspect was perhaps most explicit in Yannis Kyriakides’s setting of a text by Mehmet Yashin in ‘Nicosia’. Here the poet’s sense of being stranded between languages, of lacking a mother tongue in a city divided by state politics, was neatly expressed by the device of having individual words or phrases from the text spoken by members of the quartet, thus fragmenting any sense of a unified poetic voice.

Given the diversity of the collaborators, the range of moods was unsurprisingly wide-ranging across the cycle as a whole, from the earthy rhythmic energy of Isidora Zebeljan’s ‘Dubrovnik’ to the reconstruction of a sacred baroque in Theo Verbey’s ‘Utrecht’ or the modernist dissonance of Gerald Resch’s ‘Vienna’. One of the most effective songs was Jocelyn Pook’s ‘City of London’, where one of the cycle’s central poetic images was put to subversive means. Elsewhere, trees represented freedom and peace, but here the same image functioned as a symbol of social inequality, with the music underlining the critique through its ironic use of a brittle folk idiom. Such songs provided a fantastic platform for the extraordinary vocal versatility of mezzo-soprano Loré Lixenberg, who moved from a rich operatic sound to sprechstimme, from naïve folkishness to violent snarls...' by G. Masters
The Oxford Culture Review
Four-star review of The Stolz Quartet's CD
[...Haikus by De Vries, 4 Preludes to infinity by Verbey and a fragment from Zuidam's 'A love unsung' are a lot more accessible, lyrical and more melodious, with a highlight being the splendid third movement, 'Religious', from Verbey's 'Preludes', in which the composer gets under the skin of seventeenth century counterpoint.
Verbey also provided the arrangement of Scriabin's 4 Preludes. 33, four ultra short poetic sketches...]
By Erik Voermans
5 June, 2014
Het Parool (Amsterdam daily paper)
'Dutch Masters' from The Stolz
"The Stolz Quartet (oboe and string trio) plays music from Dutch contemporary composers. New works but also compositions arranged for them of works by Maurice Ravel, Alexander Scriabin and Franz Liszt. The result is an excellent and balanced collection of 20th century music.[...]Composer Theo Verbey arranged four short piano preludes written by Scriabin and composed ’4 Preludes to Infinity’. Four compositions in which he used several compositional skills and shows the fragile sense of music.[...] It’s obvious, this quartet loves the music they play which overleaps to the listener and makes them enthusiastic as well."
By Mattie Poels
March 9, 2014
Jean-Guihen Queyras and Ensemble Resonanz, Berg, Lyrische Suite, Schoenberg, Verklärte Nacht
"Hearing both works in the string orchestra version in this way heightens the expressiveness of each work and, at least to me, allows us to see the similarities. (,,,) Queyras and Ensemble Resonanz give us soaring renditions of both works. If the "Lyric Suite" seems in the string orchestra version virtually new, it is no doubt my reaction after a near lifetime of appreciating the quartet version. It may take a little more careful listening for the balance of thematic materials to re-emerge (if you like me are used to the quartet reading), but it may give us a different set of insights and appreciate the expressive angst of the work all the more." by Grego Applegate Edwards, January 22, 2014
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
Transparent and Passionate
"Berg's Lyric Suite was written around 1925. It is a work that more or less follows Arnold Schoenberg's 12-tone method with, appropriately, lyric and hyper-romantic gestures from a string quartet (original version). In 1929, Berg set three movements of the Suite for string orchestra. Somewhere around 2010, the whole work was recast for orchestral strings, and the present version is, evidently, the first commercial recording of this version.(...) This CD provides wondrously clear and moving performances of two major works of 20th century modernism. The first rate musicianship of the performers and the silvery, reflective recorded sound make this a recording that I will return to again and again. I love the original versions of both these works. But these versions, if they need it, are justified by this extremely attractive recording." by Stephen McLeod, 26 January, 2014
Osiris Trio review on Musicframes
A link to a review by Mattie Poels, of the
Osiris Trio's new ’25th Anniversary Box’ on Challenge Records. Review in Dutch and English
Stolz Quartet Review

'Theo Verbey, in addition to arranging Scriabin for the quartet, wrote a new work for the ensemble called 'Four preludes to infinity'. Fireworks are suddenly heard, from the oboe against the misty sounds of the strings... Music with balls, I wrote in the margin'.
By Marianne de Feijter
October 17, 2013
(Translation: Google)
Muziek van Nu
The terror of games: RIAS Chamber Choir and Ensemble musikFabrik at Musikfest Berlin
'If there were a gold medal for programming at Musikfest Berlin, it would go to last night’s concert with the RIAS Chamber Choir, Ensemble musikFabrik, and a host of other musicians, gathered under the baton of James Wood. I award the prize (if only I could!) not only for the pieces that were played, both rare and alluring (Ríkadla, a late set of children’s rhymes from Janácek for choir and ten instruments; marches and the monstrous Verborgene Reime from Kagel; and the 1919 version of Stravinsky’s Les Noces, completed in 2007 by Theo Verbey, whose orchestration includes two cimbaloms and a pianola player!), nor only for the marathonic length of the program (which, along with the instrument changes, required two intermissions), but also for the programmatic links that bound this utterly zany line-up.'
by Dan Wang on 18th September 2013
Brodsky Quartet/Lixenberg – review

"[...] Antique musical references give character and a sense of direction to Theo Verbey's song based on Peter Huchel's text The Garden of Paracelsus".

by George Hall
Thursday 27 June 2013
The Guardian
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra Review
'...The concert began with Alban Berg's Piano Sonata, Op 1: an intensive twelve minutes that seem to float along in a style between late romanticism and modernism. Theo Verbey built the architectural waves in which the work is created, with a huge orchestral force that lets the piece build up again and again, returning to a simple string quartet. Between these waves, the brass and five (!) percussionists provide eruptive climaxes.

Mihkel Kütson and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin together unlocked all the facets of the piece, and it was like a fairy tale that is told in a foreign language - sealed in its own internal logic, but full of unexpected poetry...'
by Rosemarie Frühauf, June 10th, 2013
The Epoch Times
Gig review: Brodsky Quartet, Royal Conservatoire, Glasgow
'Verbey’s Spring Rain was immediately likeable and its sudden dramatic eruptions played well to the Brodskys’ love of the theatrical... '

By David Kettle
The Scotsman, 26-11-12
Review: GIMF – The Brodsky Quartet – Holy Trinity Church
Saturday 9 March 2013

by The Stage Dragon

'...To start the second half, the wheel turned up Theo Verbey’s Spring Rain. An atmospheric gem encapsulating the weather, Verbey’s work was one of those composed especially for the Brodsky Quartet. There was no doubt about the imagery of this piece and it went down a storm . There were raindrops, sometimes light, sometimes heavy, blended with a broad and sonorous violin tune.'
Guilford Dragon News
The Brodsky Quartet show their true musical colors at Utrecht's Vredenburg
'After reeling from the effects of the Shostakovich and a brief intermission mid-concert, the quartet took the stage once more to present the (their) first-ever Dutch performance of Theo Verbey’s Spring Rain. Yet another atmospheric gem capturing the most well-known facet of Dutch weather(...)
Sprinkled with light dropping effects and a sonorous violin melody above, the work is a microcosm of a storm taking place on stage'.
Submitted by Kristen Huebner on 19th November 2012
Amsterdam Sinfonietta: Debussy, Mussorgsky, Weinberg and Shostakovich
"Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death is a work that has been orchestrated many times by great names including Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov and Shostakovich, which made me very curious as to what Theo Verbey’s 1994 orchestration would sound like. It stayed rather close to the original piano score (definitely more so than, for example, Shostakovich’s orchestration – which sounds as much like Shostakovich as it does Mussorgsky). This meant that the orchestra played a subdued role, which the Amsterdam Sinfonietta did surprisingly effectively. This allowed for the real star of the evening, mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn to become the focal point. Stotijn is an incredible singer: her voice is clear, warm and powerful and her stage presence is mesmerizing. But what made this performance memorable was her understanding and execution of the songs. In the first song, ‘Lullaby’, Stotijn demonstrated the different characters, the mother and Death, with intonation and body language, and she continued this throughout the song cycle. This meant that even for someone who does not understand a word of Russian, it is entirely clear what the songs mean and what is going on. Mussorgsky’s figure of Death has many different faces; he is seductive, soothing, aggressive, even joyful – and all of these elements were present in Stotijn’s performance."Submitted by Renée Reitsma, on 10th April 2012
Berg Lyric Suite decrypted - Audi, Amsterdam Sinfonietta Barbican
This wasn't just another concert. It was Liebestod, a truly unique exploration of Berg's Lyric Suite. Berg's piece is a compelling work, whose mysteries were only revealed about twenty years ago when the composer's letters to his lover Hanna Fuchs-Robettin were released...
Again, it's the Lyric Suite but not quite as we're used to. This time,instead of four instruments, it's arranged for larger forces (partly by Berg himself in 1928, the rest by Theo Verbey in 2005). This balances the intensity of the spoken passages and emphasizes the extreme "madness" Berg speaks of. Words and music intertwine, too, though the music isn't as abstract as might seem.
by Anne Ozorio
March 19th, 2011
Classical Iconoclast
"Dutch Master Triumphs on the Rhine"
"Regina van Berkel is one of the most outstanding Dutch choreographers. For her superb theatrical choreography, with the seemingly contradictory title "Frozen Echo", her fellow countryman, composer Theo Verbey, expanded an earlier orchestral piece into an extremely expressive triptych." (translation K. Schönberg)
Feb. 21st, 2011
Verbey Orchestral and Chamber Works
'Maybe Theo Verbey doesn’t transcend his times, but he does capture them in an engaging manner. Triade and Conciso are energetic and appealing, recalling Michael Torke in their vitality, but without the latter’s pristine soullessness. Verbey’s orchestration of Sunless, restrained and thoughtful, could alone guarantee him repertoire status.'
Dazzling Works: Contemporary music from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
"Theo Verbeij's LIED for trombone and orchestra seems, in fact, to be a succession of four 'songs' in which the soloist Jörgen van Rijen, the orchestra's principal trombone player and the composer's fellow Dutchman, makes his instrument sing with an overall gentleness and expressiveness that denies any popular impression of its bombast personality. Verbeij, who was born in 1959, handles the orchestra with deftness. In the last 'song' there is no doubt a touch of Stravinsky behind the agile trombone."
by Patric Standford
January 22, 2009
Record Box
The Grammar of Listening, by Frits van der Waal
In a famous story by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges the Aleph is mentioned, ‘the place where all places of the earth come together, seen from all corners, without merging’. In the music of Theo Verbey one sees the same aspiration to universality. His oeuvre is less staggering and its diameter is less compact than
the two or three centimetres the author as cribed to the Aleph, but it is just as Borgesian in its kaleidoscopic richness and its many references to, for one, the work of Borges: the titles
of The Peryton (1990) and The Simorq (1989) are derived from his Book of Imaginary Beings.
Already in 1992 Verbey said, ‘I try to compose music that is influenced almost up to its saturation point: not by fifty, but by hundreds of years of tradition.’ The numerous compositions he has written since then confirm that his dialogue with the past has only become more labyrinthian and intense. In a way Verbey can be compared with the American John Adams, who is also painstakingly on the lookout for influences and absorbs them without renouncing his identity. However, the comparison is bound to fall short. Adam’s music has its roots in minimalism, while Verbey’s has its roots in serial music that is based on numerical structures, even though it has become a lot more consonant over the years. The influence of Boulez can still be heard in an early work like Inversie (Inversion, 1987) and until the present day his music is based on systems of numeric relations - a way of thinking that comes directly from the 50s and 60s, although the result is completely different in sound.
Verbey has named this process fractal technique, after the complex figures discovered by the Polish-French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, of which the shape is repeated down to infinite micro-levels (another idea that could have been taken from a story by Borges).
Brochure, Theo Verbey
Dishes From a Recipe for Eye and Ear
"...Theo Verbey’s “Man Ray — La Retour à la Raison” begins with repeating figures in the manner of 1970s Minimalism and morphs gracefully into a rich, atonal piece."
by Allan Kozinn
April 6th, 2009
New York Times
Wine, Woman and Song: a Bushel of Berg
Theo Verbey’s 1984 orchestration of Berg’s opus 1, his 1908 Piano Sonata, is a persuasive translation into a Wozzeck-esque tone poem; while the pianistic origins of the textures aren’t completely transformed, Verbey provides a myriad of instrumental touches that move beyond mere transcription.

Alban Berg: Orchestral Works
Isabelle van Keulen, violin
Geraldine McGreevy, soprano
Robert Murray, tenor
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Mario Venzago, conductor
Chandos CHSA 5074(2)
By Matthew Guerrieri
August 6th, 2009
The Faster Times
Berg-Three Pieces; Violin Concerto;etc
"The orchestration of the Piano Sonata by Theo Verbey gives us a virtually new piece. The impact of the brilliantly idiomatic scoring makes it a quite different affair from the work played on the piano, and is a real addition to the repertoire." by Michael Tanner
BBC Music Magazine
Fractal Symphony
"For a composer the challenge is to write music on a complicated foundation which is for the audience immediately understandable and a pleasure to listen to . Theo Verbey has reached new heights in succeeding in this task. This work in five movements is captivating for its full 30 minute duration."
Kees Arntzen, January 31, 2005
Berg/Verbey Sonata op. 1
"Theo Verbey's orchestration of Alban Berg's Sonato for piano Op.1 from 1984 sounded Mahleresque in its ability to carry one away. The beauty of sound is not only astonishing, but also serves to shine a beacon on Berg's romantic roots."
by Joachem Valkenburg,September 16, 2005
NRC Handelsblad
"By far the most substantial piece of the evening was "Expulsion" by the Dutch composer Theo Verbey. Like many other composers from the Netherlands, Mr. Verbey obviously appreciates the pulse and clarity of Stravinsky, in combination with the ruder dynamism of popular music as mediated by, again, American minimalists. But his music is unusually intricate and poetic. "Expulsion," for an ensemble of 24 players, is based, according to the composer, on an oscillation of two chords, but these provide just a haze over continuous contrapuntal interplay. One has the sense of numerous instrumental voices talking to one another, of music talking to itself, just being there. Not demanding attention, almost resisting it, the piece hooks one in. The Absolute's performance could have been more carefully modulated, but its liveliness was persuasive, and one was left wanting to hear more of this composer."

by Paul Griffiths, April 20, 1999
The New York Times
"Mr. Verbey's piece was distinguished by nice junctures where the instruments took over the same note from one another. Perhaps there was an allusion here to the ensemble's name, for the three string tunings the instruments have in common: G-D-A, or sol-re-la, euphoniously reassorted."

Paul Griffiths,
April 14, 1998
The New York Times

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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