Stubborn music
November 26, 2012 1:28 PM   Subscribe

The Canto Ostinato is a minimalist classical composition written in 1976-1979 consisting of "small, entirely tonal cells which are repeated - how many times is left to the performer". Usually performed by two or four pianos, it's also been adapted to other instruments like the harp. The Canto Ostinato ("stubborn song") was written by Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt, who passed away yesterday.

Born in 1923, Simeon ten Holt studied with people like Jacob van Domselaer, Arthur Honegger and . He first came to prominence in the 1950ties with his socalled diagonal compositions, using complementary keys and tritones, then started writing more serialist compositions, all of hwich he'd largely abandoned by the early seventies, as he started to write the Canto, abandoning formalism for a more minimalist, impressionist approach. The Canto therefore has no set lenght, but can take anywhere from thirty minutes to as long as a day. A popular piece in the Netherlands, it has been performed not just in the usual concert halls, but also e.g. in Leiden train station.

A "complete" version of the Canto has been uploaded to Youtube by a Dutch broadcaster.

While the Canto was his best known piece, he produced several more compositions in the same style, some of which are also available on Youtube:
posted by MartinWisse (6 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

Fascinating, as at the moment I saw this, I was watching a video of a new friend who was the first person to tell me about Canto Ostinato, just a few months ago: she was about to see it performed in Ottersum. I missed a performance in Nijmegen a few weeks back, too.

Who's the third colleague supposed to be, after Honegger?

I look forward to digging in to more of his work. This strikes me as an obituary post done well.
posted by knile at 2:03 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

That is gorgeous; I love it! Off to iTunes to download the Sandra & Jeroen version. Thank you so much for posting this.
posted by Atrahasis at 2:04 PM on November 26, 2012

That was supposed to be Darius Milhaud.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:31 PM on November 26, 2012

this is one of the greatest pieces of music Metafilter has ever thrown my way. Absolutely in love with it and GREAT POST.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:17 PM on November 26, 2012

A long life, and an influential one within the concert music world.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:05 PM on November 26, 2012

Great post Martin, thanks.

posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:58 AM on December 1, 2012

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