We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding V, Four Quartets


Jorge Luis BorgesProfile of a writer: Borges, BBC Arena documentary (1983) by David Wheatley. "The central fact of my life has been the existence of words and the possibility of weaving those words into poetry" (from A Poet's Creed, Norton Lecture delivered at Harvard University in 1967). Borges reading the poem Arte Poética (poetry video)




The Tango LessonTrailer and Wiki page on the 1997 film by Sally Potter. Magnificent dancing (tango, milonga, waltz) and music.



Todotango—Everything you always wanted to know about tango (in English and Spanish).


BBC documentary The Tango Salon: La Confiteria Ideal, featuring Javier Rodriguez and Geraldine Rojas: Fragment 1 and Fragment 2.


Mozart Tango ballet of Maurice Béjart,

including, among others, Mozart's Rondo KV 382 and German Dance no.3 KV 605, and the tangos El Flete, La Cumparsita, El Choclo, and A La Gran Muñeca. Mozart wrote some 200 dances and was a good dancer himself (Mozart and dance).




Malcom Bilson’s video presentation Knowing the Score on reading and performing the music of the 18th and 19th century, including that of Mozart and Beethoven.


Eroica, The Day that Changed Music Forever. BBC television film (2003) that dramatizes the first performance of Beethoven's Symphony no. 3 in E Flat (Op. 55). The music is played by the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique conducted by John Eliot Gardiner.


Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano in C Major (Op. 56) performed by Isabelle Faust (violin), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), and Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano) with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century conducted by Frans Brüggen at the Amsterdam Muziekgebouw aan ‘t Ij in 2010.


Utrecht Early Music Festival


Concert of Venetian music (including madrigals of Monteverdi) given at the 2016 Utrecht Festival by Vox Luminis and the Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra led by Skip Sempé.

Documentary film by Benoit Jacquot on Alfred Deller: Portrait d'une Voix (1976). Listen to his Shakespeare Songs and Consort Music. Founded by Deller in 1962, the annual early music festival of Stour Music in Kent, England.

Documentary Emma Kirkby: The Unsung Heroine (2007). Gresham College lecture From Printed Page to Performance: Christopher Hogwood, Emma Kirkby, and Jacob Lindberg (2011).


Recital of Emma Kirkby and theorbist Fred Jacobs in Middelburg, the Netherlands


Website of the Academy of Ancient Music (one of my favorite orchestras). Website of Christopher Hogwood. Preconcert video of Hogwood on C.P.E. Bach.

Website of the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century (one of my favorite orchestras).


Website of the Freiburger Barockorchester (my favorite orchestra)

Bach: A Passionate LifeBBC documentary (2013) written and presented by John Eliot Gardiner.

Video registration of Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello) playing J.S. Bach's Suite for Solo Cello No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009.

Andreas Staier (harpsichord) introducing his 2010 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations BWV 988.

Las Pasiones del Alma: Admiración: Daniel Sepec (violin), Hille Perl (viola da gamba), Lee Santana (lute), and Michael Behringer (harpsichord) performing Corelli and Biber.

Tous les Matins du Monde (French film, 1991). Largely fictional story based on historical characters, the composers and viola da gamba players Sainte-Colombe and Marin Marais, around 1700 (trailer). Outstanding music by Jordi Savall.

Website of Capella de la Torre, an early music ensemble (centered around wind instruments) led by schalmei-player Katharina Bäuml. Videos of performances can be found here.

Website of Lautten Compagney, an early music ensemble led by lutenist Wolfgang Katschner. Videos of performances can be found here.

Website of Jean Rondeau (harpsichord) and videos: Recording of Vertigo (Royer) on the historic harpsichord of the Château d'Assas and with Thomas Dunford recording of Les Baricades Mïstérieuses (Couperin).

Website of Les Talens Lyriques, a vocal and instrumental baroque ensemble led by harpsichordist Christophe Rousset.


Ensemble Correspondances performing at the Early Music Festival in Utrecht


Website of Ensemble Correspondances, a baroque ensemble directed by conductor and musicologist Sébastien Daucé. Watch their concerts at the Early Music Festival in Utrecht, Charpentier in Italy in 2016 and Le Concert Royal de la Nuit in 2018.

Teasers of their albums Charpentier, Litanies de la Vierge (2014), Concert Royal de la Nuit (2015), Lalande, Leçons de Ténèbres (2015), Du Mont, O Mysterium (2016), Perpetual Night (2018), Les Plaisirs du Louvre (2019), and Buxtehude, Membra Jesu nostri (2021).

Or watch the trailer of their splendid Le Ballet Royal de la Nuit in 2017.

Since March 2019, I have a keen interest in authors writing about their own incurable cancer. One of my favorite books is Henning Mankell's Quicksand (2014). I have always been a fan of his Wallander thrillers, and also his novels, including The Return of the Dancing Master (2004) and A Treacherous Paradise (2013).


Kijken in de Ziel: Op de Drempel (2016) [Peeking into the Soul: On the Verge]: Eight persons with a terminal illness interviewed by Coen Verbraak (in Dutch). Trailer.


Website of the NVVE (Nederlandse Vereniging voor een Vrijwillig Levenseinde; Dutch society for the Right to die, of which I am a member), with the motto: "A dignified life, deserves a dignified death".




T.S. Eliot (my favorite poet since high school)—BBC Arena Portrait (2009) by Adam Low. Listen, for example, to Four Quartets read by Alec Guinness (1971), The Waste Land read by Jeremy Irons and Eileen Atkins (2012), Journey of the Magi read by John Gielgud (1939), or Eliot reading The Naming of Cats


Umberto Eco, author of the brilliant book The Name of the Rose (Translated from Italian into English by William Weaver)




Books that I would take to a desert island include:

Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling (2003) by Ross King.


Het Woud der Verwachting: Het leven van Charles van Orléans (1949) by Hella S. Haasse [Book translated from Dutch into English in 1989 under the title In a Dark Wood Wandering].


In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century (2004) by Geert Mak.


Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (2018) by Steven Pinker.



One of my favorite opera pieces is the trio Soave Sia il Vento from Mozart’s opera Così Fan Tutte, here sung by Miah Persson (Fiordiligi), Anke Vondung (Dorabella), and Nicolas Rivenq (Don Alfonso) with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Ivan Fischer at the Glyndebourne festival in 2006.


Book Mozart's Women by Jane Glover, viewing Mozart through the women in his life, including his mother, sister Nannerl, the four Weber [Weaver] sisters (among them his wife Constanze), and the women in his operas.



Peter Gelb's film Horowitz Plays Mozart (1987) on Horowitz playing Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 23 (KV 488) with the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini in 1986.


Amadeus (trailer). Film (1984) directed by Miloš Forman and written by Peter Shaffer. Magnificent, despite many historical inaccuracies.


Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 17 in G Major (KV. 453) performed by Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano) and the Freiburger Barockorchester at the Schwetzingen festival in 2012.


Pas de deux Abandon by Isabelle Guérin and Laurent Hilaire danced to the Adagio from Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 23 from the ballet Le Parc by Angelin Preljocaj— breathtakingly beautiful.


Blanche Neige (Snow White)–Ballet by Angelin Preljocaj, based on the Grimm Brothers tale with costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier and set to excerpts from Gustav Mahler's symphonies (trailer).


Websites of Hespèrion XXI, Le Concert des Nations, and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, early music ensembles led by viola da gamba player Jordi Savall. Watch La Suite Française by Le Concert des Nations at the Utrecht Early Music Festival 2010, and Chansons, Villancicos, Danzas: The Neapolitan Renaissance under Aragon by La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Hespèrion XXI at the same festival in 2019.


Website of Collegium Vocale Gent directed by Philippe Herreweghe, an ensemble of vocalists and supporting instrumentalists, performing both early and modern music. Watch them record Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine in Asciano, Italy.


Festival Collegium Vocale Crete Senesi


Collegium Vocale rehearsing at their festival in Asciano


Kammerorchester Basel: Chamber orchestra playing both early and contemporary music. Concertmaster is Julia Schröder.

Website of L'Arpeggiata, an early music ensemble led by baroque harpist and lutenist Christina Pluhar. Videos of performances can be found here. Watch the magnificent concerts at the Utrecht Early Music Festival: Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in 2015, Cavalli in 2016 (with a fantastic Encore), and Komm, Süsser Tod in 2017.

Website of Les Arts Florissants, a vocal and instrumental baroque ensemble led by harpsichordist William Christie.


Webpages on Les jardins de William Christie in Thiré, in the south of the Vendée, France. Aerial view on the gardens. Video impressions of the yearly music festival in the gardens, Festival Dans les Jardins de William Christie.


Website of Le Poème Harmonique, an early music ensemble led by Vincent Dumestre, dedicated to the performance of 17th and 18th century music. Performing the programme Anamorfosi – Miserere & metamorphosis at the Utrecht Early Music Festival in 2019.


Buitenkunst (Open-air Arts)Site on seasonal dance, theatre, music, literature, and visual arts projects in which professional practitioners in these fields supervise a wide variety of programmes for adults, youngsters, children, and infants.




Het Geheim van de Meester (The secret of the master)—TV series in which a team of Dutch top experts reconstructs classic paintings to discover the secrets behind them. Website and trailer (in Dutch).

My favorite museum: Teylers Museum in Haarlem, The Netherlands. Devoted to art, natural history, and science, celebrating the 18th-century Enlightenment. Website and Wiki page.

Of course, indispensable, a link to my Dutch newspaper NRC (motto "Lux et Libertas"). (in Dutch) video "Peter Vandermeersch over NRC anno 2017".

Website of D66, the social liberal party in the Netherlands, of which I am a member.


  Father and DaughterBrilliant short (8:30 min) animated film by Michael Dudok de Wit.