Classic Dutch: Marcel Worms and the Global Blues

This programme is part of the series Classic Dutch
New Dutch Blues CD album cover (© RNW)

“Classic Dutch” is a panorama of classical music composed or performed in the Netherlands through the centuries. Most of the music in this series was selected from among the huge wealth of recordings made by Radio Netherlands’ Music Department. In each programme, presenter Hélène Michaud speaks with a guest conductor, composer or music performer.

“Globalised Blues” is perhaps the best way to describe what Marcel Worms got up to, starting in 1996 in his “New Blues for Piano” project. More than 150 contemporary composers from over 40 countries on all six continents responded to his invitation to compose blues music for piano. Why would a Dutch musician invite a multicultural pool of talent to compose for such an American idiom? Marcel Worms, a convert to music from biology, believes the three fundamental chords that characterise the blues are a universal formula capable of expressing a broad emotional range: from misery and nostalgia to humour and optimism. And what we call the blues actually exists in many cultures by a different name. Worms talks, for example, about how his Chinese colleagues work with “the blues”.

Producer: Hélène Michaud

Broadcast: May 1, 2001

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