Leo Samama was born in Apeldoorn (The Netherlands), March the 25th, 1951. He is a graduate of the University of Utrecht in musicology and studied for some years composition under Rudolf Escher. In 1976/77 he continued his doctoral studies with a Rotary Foundation Grant at UCLA in Los Angeles, California, and lectured on Dutch music in the 20th Century (a.o. at UCLA and the University of Maryland).
1977-1988 Leo Samama has taught the history of music and culture (history of art, philosophy and aesthetics) at the Utrecht Conservatory. 1987-1989 he lectured on 'Musical criticism in theory and practice' at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. 1988-1992 he was at the faculty of the Musicology Department of the Utrecht University, with specialisation Music of the Twentieth Century and Musical Criticism.
1978-1984 he was a critic at De Volkskrant and 1986-1990 a correspondent of the Nieuwe Rotterdamse Courant/Handelsblad (both are leading newspapers in The Netherlands). 1988-1994 Leo Samama has been on the board of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam as the orchestra's artistic advisor; 1991-1993 he was head of the orchestra's artistic department as a delegate of the board. 1988-1993 Samama has been artistic adviser of the Centrum Nederlandse Muziek (an organisation specialized in the promotion of Dutch music) and, 1992-1994, advisor of the broadcasting company NCRV.
At the same time Leo Samama has been a member of many other boards active in Dutch musical life (a.o. the Amsterdam Boekman Stichting - the research institute of cultural and social studies -, the Combattimento Consort - an ensemble specialised in Baroque music -, the Dutch Music Council and several advisory boards to the Dutch Government). 1992-1994 Leo Samama earned his living mainly as an artist's and music consultant and as an artist's manager. In July 1994 Leo Samama was appointed artistic coördinator of the Residentie Orkest The Hague and in October 1994 program manager of the orchestra's concert hall, the Dr. Anton Philipszaal.
Apart from these, Leo Samama devides his activities between the writing of music and the writing on music. His musicological writings include books on the pianosonatas of Beethoven (De pianosonates van Beethoven, Utrecht 1982), on the music of Skrjabin (De verklanking van het onhoorbare, Den Haag 1986) and on contemporary Dutch Music (Zeventig jaar Nederlandse muziek, 1915-1985, Amsterdam 1986) - the first comprehensive survey on the music and musical scene in the 20th Century in The Netherlands.
He also contributed, among others, to books on Postmodernism, on Nietzsche, on the Dutch movement of the Eighties (Diepenbrock and others), on the history of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and on the theory and history of the music of the 20th Century (student textbooks for the Open University). He wrote programm notes, sleeve notes and articles for the major orchestras, record companies and magazines in Holland and took care of all the articles on Dutch music for the Italian encyclopaedia Dizionaria della Musica e dei Musicisti (UTET, Torino), and many articles on Dutch opera for The New Grove Dictionary of Opera.
Since 1975 Leo Samama has written well over fifty compositions for a great diversity of ensembles, most of them commissioned by the Dutch Government and the Fund of the Creative Arts. His official 'Opus 1' is Tombeau concertant pour Frank Martin, for two violins and string orchestra, which was played all over the world by the Camerata Lysy and opened the Gstaad Summer Festival in 1975. The Tombeau concertant pour Frank Martin was recorded by the Dutch Chamber Orchestra under Anthony RosMarba. A record with chamber music has been released by Attacca Records in 1982.
In 1988 a compact disc was released with the Monumentum pro Caecilia for harpsichord and string orchestra (Attacca Records), in 1989 a compact disc followed with the Triptico for two guitars (Donemus), in 1990 with Grand Slam for accordeon (BFO), in 1996 with Memories. Alas!... for two guitars (Ottavo), in 1997 with Mirage for viola solo (NM Classics) and in 1998 with /iPast tense for saxophone and guitar (Erasmus).
Especially the Capricci for alto saxophone and piano (opus 5, 1976), the Triptico for two guitars (opus 7, 1979), Caged Memories for english horn (or viola) and piano (opus 11, 1981), "...plane désespérément d'aile..." for violin solo (opus 20, 1983), Grand Slam for accordion (opus 28, 1986), Obsession for cello en piano (opus 40, 1991) and Toccata for carillon (opus 45, 1996) are performed regularly all over the country. Obsession for cello en piano was a commission for the Scheveningen International Music Competition 1991, which composition had a great succes. Larger works, like the viola concerto Spleen et Idéal (opus 10, 1981), Soit que l'Abime for alto saxophone, saxophone quartet and an ensemble of twelve percussionists (opus 19, 1983), Afterthoughts for orchestra (opus 22, 1983), Monumentum pro Caecilia for harpsichord and string orchestra (opus 23, 1984) and San-Yüeh for orchestra (opus 26, 1985) received their first performances by major Dutch ensembles and were transmitted on radio.
Afterthoughts was played January 1987 by the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra under its director Hartmut Haenchen, who choose this composition to be the first Dutch score he conducted with his new orchestra. In 1988 this composition was played by the Radio-Symphony Orchestra of East-Berlin. And Spleen et Idéal (opus 10) received its American première in October 1989 in Boston, played by Raphael Hillyer and the ensemble Alea III under Theodore Antoniou. San-Yüeh is originally music for a ballet, which received well over 25 performances in the 1985/86-season.
His latest compositions include electronic and synthesizer music for a major television series on modern architecture, plus commissions by the Dutch Government for the commemoration of the Dutch constitution and by the International Jewish Music Festival for the 50th Anniversary of Israel.