Michel van der Aa


January 2009

World premiere of 'The Book of Disquiet / Das Buch der Unruhe'

Book of Disquiet - Klaus thinkingKlaus Maria Brandauer

Michel van der Aa’s newest music theatre piece, The Book of Disquiet was successfully performed on 2 January as the official opening of the LINZ09 (Austria) European Capital of Culture year. The premiere in the Hafenhalle was the first in a series of three sold-out performances.

The Book of Disquiet is based on texts by Fernando Pessoa. This full-length work features the most essential entries from the Portuguese master’s fictitious diary The Book of Disquiet. We follow the protagonist, played by the acclaimed actor Klaus Maria Brandauer, on stage and in video projections, and witness a haunting mosaic of dreams, psychological notations, autobiographical vignettes and unsparing introspection.

In addition to his role as composer, Van der Aa is also film and stage director. In seamlessly integrating music, staging and video images he continues the path taken with his acclaimed operas One and After Life. Alter egos created in the video projections supplement and extend the protagonist on stage, and a moving portrait rises of a man coming to terms with his own identity.

Following its first performances in Linz, the work will be presented at the ZaterdagMatinee at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw on 10 October 2009.

“Magically, it all coheres: the parade of visuals, beautifully shot under Van der Aa’s direction; the musing disconnectedness of Brandauer’s utterances, which create the texture of a dream. If it’s in the nature of Pessoa’s book that there can be no resolution, there is a kind of closure here, a sense of knowing much more about the author and his alter ego than we ever would otherwise.”
— The Guardian, Andrew Clements

“Van der Aa’s success is due to the subtlety with which he organises all the ingredients. The music reflects the feelings and ideas described: at times melancholy, at times highly formal, but always dramatic given the alternation between the two.”
NRC Handelsblad, Mischa Spel


Michel van der Aa (Netherlands, 1970) is a truly multidisciplinary figure in contemporary music. A unique voice, he combines composition with film and stage direction, and script writing. Classical instruments, voices, electronic sound, actors, theatre and video are all seamless extensions of his musical vocabulary.

upcoming performances

  • 19 April 2018
    New work (world premiere)
    Wende Snijders, voice. Michel van der Aa, guitar
    Nieuw Amsterdams Peil
    Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 19 April 2018
    Dormant (world premiere)
    Nieuw Amsterdams Peil
    Lars Wouters van den Oudenweijer, clarinet. Mick Stirling, cello. Michel van der Aa, guitar.
    Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 19 April 2018
    For the time being
    Nieuw Amsterdams Peil.
    Wende Snijders, mezzo-soprano. Heleen Hulst, violin. Gerard Bouwhuis, piano. Dario Calderone, double bass.
    Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam, Netherlands



  • tonight the brilliant @ned_kamerkoor and Peter Dijkstra will perform 'Shelter' at the @klarafestival -
https://klarafestival.be/en/programme/the-psalms-experience-suffering tonight the brilliant @ned_kamerkoor and Peter Dijkstra will perform 'Shelter' at the @klarafestival - https://klarafestival.be/en/programme/the-psalms-experience-suffering


  • the thing with playing guitar through an epic looping delay is that the fuckups also haunt you for ever 05 July 2017
  • and here am I covering Klaus Maria Brandauer in paper boats https://t.co/WarKXl6POv 04 July 2017
  • preparing "The Book of Disquiet" for Lucerne Festival. Came across these 'making of’ photos.… https://t.co/f16zqUmda9 04 July 2017

recent video


upclose TNSol Gabetta, cello. Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Candida Thompson
31:11 min.

recent audio


Editors Jonathan Reeder, Tim Rutherford-Johnson
Web-design Studio Lonne Wennekendonk
Realisation Martijn ten Napel & Kyver
Latest update 20 March 2018