Reinbert de Leeuw

Man or Melody

By Thea Derks

Reibert de Leeuw - Thea Ders

Thea Derks studied musicology at Amsterdam University, graduating with honours in 1996. After her studies she specialized in contemporary music. She presents introductions and pre-concert talks throughout the Netherlands, amongst others for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. She hosts courses on modern music in Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ.


Derks was musical advisor for the cities of The Hague and Amsterdam. She writes articles and reviews for Dutch and foreign magazines and websites, and makes reportages for NPO Radio 4, the Dutch classical music station. In 2014 she published the highly acclaimed biography Reinbert de Leeuw: Man or Melody.

'Monument for a cultural giant' - Het Parool


‘The ideal biographer… Knowledgeable and discreet’ - Elsevier


‘Reinbert de Leeuw has been a key figure in Dutch musical life for decades. With his extremely slow interpretations of Satie’s early piano music he stormed the popular charts, as Nutcracker he opposed the musical establishment, and as co-founder and conductor of the Schoenberg Ensemble he enthused a broad audience for the music of contemporary composers. He is considered the most important founding father of the internationally renowned ensemble culture in the Netherlands, still inspiring both young and old.


Thea Derks conducted in-depth research in order to place life and work of Reinbert de Leeuw in their historical context: his difficult youth, the turbulent sixties, his way to the top, his collaboration with leading composers such as Messiaen and Ligeti, the discussions about his role as ‘Kunstpaus’ (Culture Czar). Derks paints a well-balanced image of an indefatigable music pioneer.


Derks gave her unfathomable subject heart and soul’ - Trouw


‘Good, well-balanced biography. May also be read as a panorama of Dutch musical life in the 20th century’ - de Volkskrant


‘What Alex Ross “The Rest is Noise” is for the history of Western contemporary music, is Thea Derks “Reinbert de Leeuw: Man or Melody” for the Dutch modern music scene.’ - Cultuurpers



Additional Information:

Published 2015 (Dutch) - English material available

ISBN: 9789079624089 – 381 pages - Hardback

World Rights Available