Simeon ten Holt quotes:
“My compositions take shape without any predetermined plan and are, as it were, the reflection of a quest for an unknown goal.”
“As far as I can see, my relationship, both figuratively and practically speaking, to the tonal centre and the problem of tonality, has been a determining factor in the development of the achievements in my creative career. This relation gradually shifted from an initial intuitive understanding to a more conscious issue later on.”
“The only advantage of ageing may be that a development can be viewed in retrospect.”
“I was very surprised to find myself in a steppe-like landscape one day, which was characterized by an immense horizon, by vastness, space and time, and, last but not least: by tonal centres and tonality. In spite of various speculations I have not been able to find an adequate explanation for this development yet and, just like before, I have no idea of the next port to which my compass is set.”
“My life has been largely determined by chance.”
In 1954 Ten Holt resettles in Bergen, this time taking up residence in a converted World War II bunker. It is here that he writes the important piano composition Bagatellen.
A renaissance stage of life finds its expression in the Bagatellen in a style that can be situated somewhere between Chopin, Bartók and Janácek, with some reminiscences to the late works of Van Domselaer.
The harmonic content of these pieces is, in fact, quite Schumannesque, as are the brief melodic fragments and the figurations that accompany them.
In 1956 they were first performed by the composer in a pianorecital of several of his works for the Artists Centre Bergen. In those days concerts in Bergen took place in de ‘Rustende Jager’, a restaurant also serving as a cinema and a dance hall.
In reaction to the tonal influence of his teacher Van Domselaer, Ten Holt develops his own method to come to terms with the concepts of tonality and atonality. He calls it the diagonal idea, the simultaneous use of complementary keys in a tritone relationship.
Natalon, a controversial piece since the first performance in 1987 because of the use of extremely tonal language, has been recorded a few times before, the Bagatellen have never before been recorded.
Natalon in E is the ‘N(ot) Atonal’ counterpart of A/.ta-lon, an atonal work for mezzo-soprano and 36 playing and talking instrumentalists (1968).
Among his most important works are: 20 Bagatellen (1954), Cyclus aan de Waanzin (Cycle to Madness, 1961), Interpolations (1969), Natalon in E (1980), Soloduiveldans II (1986) III (1990) en IV (1998) for piano, Canto Ostinato (1977-79), Lemniscaat (1983) and Horizon (1984-85) for keyboard instruments, Centri-fuga (1979) and Une Musique Blanche (1981)