Biography

Bernard van Beurden was born in Amsterdam on the 5th of December, 1933. He started playing the violin when he was 8 years old and at the age of 11 he wrote his first composition for violin and cello. After secondary school he first studied violin and viola at the Amsterdam Conservatorium. He then went on to study composition with Rudolf Escher and Ton de Leeuw.

His compositions cover a wide variety of areas including:
Chamber music for various instruments and ensembles
Choir music, a capella or with instrumental accompaniment
Compositions for wind orchestra, fanfare orchestra (brass instruments and wind ensembles, mainly solo concertos for wind players, string players, vocalists or combinations of these
Compositions for mandolin orchestra, sometimes in combination with instruments such as accordion, bassoon or soprano
Compositions for symphony orchestra, string orchestra, ballet and theatre

Especially this last category plays an important part in van Beurden’s oeuvre. He has composed music for 21 plays as well as 7 works for music theatre, of which 4 were written for children. One of these Rumpelstiltskin from Lavenlots has been translated into German and Croatian. He has also composed music for 3 operas, of which “Esperanza” was translated into Swedish.

He has written a number of compositions inspired by and based on political issues: for example”I am Ericka”, “Soweto”, “Grenzeloos (Boundless)”, “Esperanza”, “Out of Europe” and “Poems of Guantànamo”.

Van Beurden spent 7 years working as a programme maker and composer for Dutch radio, and in 1978 he won the RAI-prize of the Prix Italia for his Radiophonic Oratorio “Bajesmaf (Jail-crazy)”.

As a teacher van Beurden has worked in Amsterdam at the School of Music, the School for Theatre, and the School for Drama. He also taught at the Rotterdam Conservatorium. In addition to teaching aspiring professionals, he has also been involved with amateur musicians and ensembles as composer/educator.

Van Beurden has given countless workshops around the world in countries which include; the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Poland, France, Portugal and the United States. In 1974 he wrote a book about practising contemporary music to be used for these workshops and in schools. The book is entitled “WERKBOEK VOOR MUZIEK VAN NU” (Workbook for the music of today) and has been translated into Swedish.

His music is frequently performed in the Netherlands as well as in other European countries, Japan, China and the United States. Apart from in the Netherlands, his music is published in Germany, France and the United States. A number of his compositions are available on CD.

Most of Bernard van Beurden’s works are written on commission, and the majority of his music has been composed with the financial support of the Foundation for the Performing Arts.

His most recent work consists of :
Five Miniatures for 2 mandolins and string orchestra
Out of Europe: 5 songs for soprano and brass quintet
* Dialogue for alto saxophone, double wind quintet and percussion (1 player)
Trinitas for string orchestra
Concerto grosso for solo trumpet, solo percussion and mixed ensemble

For the period 2013-2014 he has a number of compositions planned including a work for string quartet & wind orchestra, as well as the chamber opera “The king who didn’t want to die ” for 6 voices, brass instruments and percussion.

Bernard van Beurden was awarded the Royal decoration of ‘Officer in the Order of Oranje Nassau’ on the 7th of December, 2003 for his exceptional services as a musician.