Mattias Spee is a Dutch pianist and composer. His first love was classical music, but he has always had a passion for other genres and styles as well, like jazz, minimal and free improvisation, which he now combines into compostions that can not really be put into a box. Mattias studied piano with David Kuyken and contemporary music with Ralph van Raat at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. He has won prizes at the Princess Christina Competition, the Steinway Piano Competition, the SJMN Competition, the Rotterdam Piano Festival and the Vrienden Culture Prize, among others.
When composing, Mattias draws much inspiration from stories. As a child, he loved fairy tales and mythology -not just to read, but also to make up himself- and you can hear this love in his music. Many of Mattias’s compositions originate from improvisation and he often leaves space his pieces for spur-of-the-moment ideas. Mattias primarily writes for solo piano, but more and more often leaves his comfort zone in order to write for bigger groups.
Besides his own compositions, Mattias premiered music by several other composers, including rediscovered pieces by 20th century composers Gerard van Brucken Fock and Hans Henkemans and new music by Samuel Carl Adams, Linda Diaz, Joshua Herwig, Pepijn Streng and others. In 2023, Mattias will premiere new solo piano compositions by Lisa Weyrauther and Gijs Idema, commissioned by Mattias himself for the Dutch Classical Talent tour, and a new piano concerto by Jo Sporck.
Playing with others is important to Mattias, because to him there is nothing more joyful than making music together. Besides performing in many project-based ensembles, he has been part of the Goudsbloem Trio for several years, together with cellist Hadewych van Gent and clarinetist Ana Prazeres. Together, they explored the well known repertoire for this combination of instruments, but also discovered exctiting, hardly ever performed music. As a soloist, Mattias collaborated with renowned orchestras like Holland Symfonia and the Southern Netherlands Philharmonic.
Another one of Mattias’s big passions is working with artists from other art disciplines. He was commisioned by the Grachtenfestival to make the show “Where there is singing” with novelist Shula Tas and cellist/vocalist Chieko Donker Duyvis, based on the book of the same name, in which Shula tells the story of how and why she stopped singing. Mattias was also in charge of the music for the radio play “Dancing with Death”, a collaboration with writer/director Tabula Raas and voice actor Celine Vermeulen, that deals with the temptation of being released from suffering. Recently, Mattias was a part of the show “Time Capsule”, with trombonist Arjan Linker, guitarist Gijs Idema, double bassist Benjamin de Boer and live electronics specialist Dimitri Geelhoed. For this show about the the relentless passing of time, this group of like-minded composers combined elements from Indian raag, Georgian folk music, Renaissance polyphony and pop bands like Radiohead by means of improvisation into a dreamscape, supported with light effects by visual artist Lisa Derksen Castillo.
Mattias is also fascinated by music that has, justifiably or not, slipped into oblivion. He thinks it’s important to pay attention to the incredible amount of music that hides underneath a layer of dust and bringing it to life again. This fascination has resulted in a series of albums titled “Eclipse”, featuring music by unknown composers from history. The first album in this series, featuring music by Joseph Wölfl, was released in June of 2021. The second album, with music by the Dutch composer Hans Henkemans (including several unpublished manuscripts and a piano concerto in collaboration with conductor Ed Spanjaard) comes out on May 12th of 2023.
Mattias’s practising instrument is a 1992 Grotrian-Steinweg grand piano, made available to him by the Dutch National Music Instrument Foundation.
In addition to being a musician, Mattias is a dedicated vegan. He is outspoken on animal cruelty and the negative effects that our way of life has on the planet.