Haack [Haacke, Haak, Haake], Friedrich Wilhelm

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Holt, John

(b 1848; d Birmingham, 14 Jan 1932). English reed organ maker. He founded a manufacturing and importing firm in Birmingham in 1876, and patented a type of stop action in 1885. Holt built reed organs in a variety of sizes, some of them quite large. In 1896 he exhibited an instrument of four manuals at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, and in 1916 built a reed organ of three manuals and pedals with a 32' pedal stop for the Edinburgh War Hospital. His firm went by the name of Pioneer Organ and Piano Works in the early 20th century, and the 1915 ‘Pioneer’ model was specially designed for organ students and based on Royal College of Organists specifications. John W. Holt (1886–1946), John's younger son, took over the running of the firm on his father's death, but his own death marked the end of the company. John Holt's grandson, Wallace G. Holt, John Holt's eldest son, worked for many years for Rushworth & Dreaper in Liverpool, and was the designer of their popular ‘Apollo’ reed organ (two manuals and pedals), introduced in 1911 and produced until the late 1930s.


R.F. Gellerman: Gellerman's International Reed Organ Atlas (Vestal, NY, 1985)

A.W.J.G. Ord-Hume: Harmonium (London, 1986)

P. and P. Fluke: ‘John Holt Reed Organs’, ROS Bulletin, ix/4 (1990), 11–17


Holt, Simeon ten

(b Bergen, North Holland, 24 Jan 1923). Dutch composer and pianist. His first piano works reveal the influence of his piano and theory teacher the composer Jakob van Domselaer (1890–1960), who had attempted to translate into piano music the ideas of the painter Piet Mondrian. In 1949 ten Holt went to Paris and studied with Honegger and Milhaud at the Ecole Normale. He returned to Bergen in 1954 and embarked on his own journey as a composer with his 20 Bagatelles for piano. In the 1950s he sought to escape tonality with the simultaneous use of complementary keys in a tritonal relationship, a technique culminating in the Diagonaalmuziek for strings (1958). The Cycle to Madness for piano (1961–2) forms the transition to a serialistic period, the results of which can be heard in ..A/.TA-LON (1966–8), a music theatre piece for mezzosoprano and 36 instrumentalists, where both the notes and the self-invented syllables are conceived as if produced by a computer. He worked at the Institute for Sonology at the University of Utrecht (1969–75) focusing on electronic sound sources, producing several pieces of electronic music. Although still an advocate of structuralism and atonality in the 1970s, Holt also did the groundwork for the return of tonality in his music.

Canto ostinato for one or more keyboard instruments (1976–9) is his major breakthrough as a composer. It consists of repetitive music in which the performers follow their own route choosing the so-called ‘drift parts’ they prefer. The musicians are given the task of determining the total length and the number of repetitions in any performance. Ever since the première of Canto ostinato ten Holt has continued to create this kind of living musical organism, each performance of which produces new sound combinations.


(selective list)

Orch: Diagonaalmuziek, str orch, 1958; Centri-fuga, orch, 1976–9; Une musique blanche, orch, 1980–82

Vocal: ..A/.TA-LON, Mez, 36 insts, 1967–8; Choral Project 75, 3 SATB, 4 spkrs, elecs, 1975; Bi-Ba-Bo, S, A, T, B, 1980

Chbr: 20 Bagatellen, pf, 1954; Diagonaalsonate, pf, 1959; Cycle to Madness, pf, 1961–2; Str Qt, 1965; Tripticon, 6 perc, 1965; Differenties, 3 cl, pf, vib, 1969; Interpolations, pf, 1969; Scenario-X, 2 tpt, hn, trbn, tuba, 1970; 5 Pieces, pf, 1970–72; Natalon in E, pf, 1979–80

Works of variable duration: Canto ostinato, kbd/kbds, 1976–9; Lemniscaat, kbd/kbds, 1982–3; Horizon, 4 pf, 1983–5; Soloduiveldans II, pf, 1986; Incantatie IV, kbd, 4 insts, 1987–90; Soloduiveldans III, pf, 1990; Palimpsest, 4 vn, va, vc, db, 1990–92, rev. 1993; Shadow nor Prey, 2 pf, 1993–5; Eadem sed aliter, pf, 1995; Méandres, 4 pf, 1995–8 Soloduiveldans IV, pf, 1998

Elec: Inferno I, II, 4-track tape, 1970–71; Module IV, 4-track tape (graphic notation), 1970–72; I am Sylvia but somebody else, 4-track tape, 1973

Principal publisher: Donemus


Holt, Simon

(b Bolton, 21 Feb 1958). English composer. After taking a foundation course at Bolton Art College (1976–7), he studied composition with Anthony Gilbert at the RNCM (1978–82). In 1982 he received a commission from the London Sinfonietta, which resulted in Kites (1983), quickly followed by another from the Nash Ensemble for Shadow Realm (1983). These inaugurated fruitful relationships with both ensembles – the Nash received four more pieces the following decade, and the Sinfonietta new works in 1988 (Ballad of the Black Sorrow) and 1998 (eco-pavan) – and effectively launched his professional career. From that time he made his living by composing. He has also taught at City University in London and the RNCM, and is lecturer in composition at Royal Holloway, University of London. He was the featured composer at the Bath International Festival in 1985. Further commissions have included two orchestral pieces for the BBC Proms (Syrensong, 1987, and Walking with the River's Roar, 1991) and an opera, The Nightingale's to Blame (1996–8), for Opera North.

In addition to visual artists such as Brancusi, Giacometti, Goya and Richard Long, Holt cites among the influences on his mature style Feldman and Ravel in their harmonic language and Messiaen and Xenakis in their approach to rhythm. One can also occasionally detect something of the improvisatory contours of jazz and Indian music, and the wild outbursts of rock guitar solos. Holt's pieces fall broadly into two categories: montage-like works which feature unexpected juxtapositions of material often derived from the same source (e.g. Shadow Realm, 1983, All Fall Down, 1993–4), and the essentially linear pieces which take the listener on an odyssey, often with a soloist or prominent instrument as a guide (e.g. Nigredo, 1994, Walking with the River's Roar, 1991). Holt's writing can be extraordinarily demanding, forcing instruments to the extremes of their technical capabilities, with soloists often pitted against some opposing force. In Tauromaquia (1985), the pianist assumes the role of a bullfighter, while in Icarus Lamentations (1992), the drama is played out spatially, the two clarinets positioned as far apart as possible either side of the rest of the ensemble.

Along with Minotaur Games (1993) and the cello concerto Daedalus Remembers (1995), Icarus Lamentations (1992) forms part of Holt's most ambitious project of the early 1990s, a triptych of pieces for chamber orchestra based on characters from Greek mythology. Such mythical figures, as represented in art and literature, have provided the stimulus for a number of works. Holt has been particularly drawn to the dramatic, often violent, sensuous and enigmatic writing of Lorca, especially his preoccupation with the duendes, the demonic spectral sprites of Spanish folklore that prompt humans towards involuntary and impulsive actions. A concern for creating the impression of instinctiveness and unpredictability lies at the heart of Holt's approach to technique, with its constant covering of tracks, its burying of any potentially unifying elements deep below the surface. His music is built around carefully chosen sets of pitches with prominent intervallic characteristics, which lend coherence to structures that at surface level can seem disparate and improvisatory; these sets are subjected to repeated recomposition, often of an elusive and unpredictable nature. Symmetries, whether in pitch, rhythm or form, are exploited only to be disturbed. At the core of even his darkest and most turbulent works lie moments of calm and intense luminosity; these ‘still centres’, as he calls them, in part a legacy of Feldman's influence, assumed increasing importance in his works of the 1990s. Whereas his music of the previous decade was dominated by complex, highly detailed textures, with even the slower passages wrought from intricate latticework, parts of All Fall Down (1993–4) signalled a move towards a simpler kind of expression. These moments of repose became further evident in The Nightingale's to Blame, especially in Don Perlimplín's simple piano solo at the opening, a calm statement of intent that resonates throughout the opera's duration. Meanwhile in the piano concerto Eco-Pavan (1998), with its characteristically imaginative scoring, the louder outbursts serve, in the composer's words, ‘to bring into relief the essentially slow quiet of the work’.


Op: The Nightingale's to Blame (prol, 3 scenes, Holt, after F. García Lorca: Amor de Don Perlimplín con Belisa en su jardín), Huddersfield, Lawrence Batley Theatre, 19 Nov 1998

Orch: Syrensong, 1987; walking with the river's roar, va, orch, 1991; Three for Icarus: Icarus Lamentations, 2 cl, cimb, hp, str, 1992, Minotaur Games, chbr orch, 1993, Daedalus Remembers, vc, chbr orch, 1995

Vocal: Lunas Zauberschein (J.W. von Goethe), Mez, b fl, 1979; Wyrdchanging (anon. Old Eng., trans. M. Alexander), Mez, 2 fl (+ pic + a fl), ob, A-cl, b cl, hn, perc, 3 vn, va, 2 vc, db, 1980; Canciones (anon. Sp., García Lorca), Mez, fl + a fl + pic, ob, hn, hp, str qnt, 1986; Ballad of the Black Sorrow (García Lorca), 2 S, Mez, T, Bar, B, 20 insts, 1988; A Song of Crocuses and Lightning (R. Carver), S, hn, hp, va, db, 1989; a knot of time (García Lorca, S, cl + E-cl, va, vc, db, 1992; 6 Caprices (García Lorca), Ct, 1998; Sunrise' Yellow Noise (E. Dickinson), S, orch, 1999

6–14 insts: Mirrormaze, 3 fl (+ pic + a fl), 2 ob (+ eng hn), E-cl, A-cl, 2 hn, 2 perc, db, 1981; Kites, fl + pic, ob + eng hn, cl, bn, hn, str qnt, 1983; … era madrugada, pic + fl, cl + b cl, hn, pf, va, vc, db, 1984; Capriccio spettrale, fl + a fl, cl + b cl, hn, tpt + pic tpt, 2 vn, 2 va, vc, db, 1988; Sparrow Night, solo ob, fl + pic, A-cl + E-cl + b cl, hn, hp, pf, vn, va, vc, db, 1989; Lilith, fl, cl, hn, hp, vn, va, vc, db, 1990; all fall down, cl + E-cl + b cl, hn, pf, vn, va, vc, 1993–4; eco-pavan, solo pf, b fl, heckelphone, mand, va, db, hp, cimb, perc, 1998

2–5 insts: Palace at 4 a.m., fl, ob, cl, vc, 1980; Shadow Realm, cl, vc, hp, 1983; Burlesca oscura, cl + b cl, str qt, 1985; Danger of the Disappearance of Things, str qt, 1989; Banshee, ob, perc, 1994

Solo inst: Maïastra, fl + a fl, 1981; Tauromaquia, pf, 1985; a book of colours, 5 pieces, pf: duendecitos, 1988, figurine, 1991, a shapeless flame, 1992, some distant chimes, 1992, the thing that makes ashes, 1993; Nigredo, pf, 1994

Principal publishers: Universal, Chester


A. Bye: ‘Darkness at Noon’, MT, cxxxiv (1993), 313–16

G. McBurney: disc notes, Simon Holt, NMC D008 (1993)

M. Seabrook: ‘“Dark Fire”: Simon Holt and his Music’, Tempo, no.201 (1997), 21–7

N.B.T. Whitehead: Analytical Studies of the Work of Simon Holt (thesis, U. of Cambridge, 1997)

Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 18–29 Nov 1998 [programme book]


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