This October there will be a festival in the Netherlands celebrating the musical heritage of 17C Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, an oeuvre which has led an existence more or less in the shadows, given the lack of interest in musical matters in the country. Hopefully the festival will correct such entirely undeserved neglect:
In the 17th century, music written in the Dutch Republic had no cultural identity of its own but was simply North-European music, hence the easy way it was spread to the German lands, via Sweelinck's students to J.S.Bach. Sweelinck's music is indeed of the greatest quality and full of expressive surprises, and is certainly not enough performed, in spite of the wide-spread HIP movement (Historically Informed Performence).
The Dutch Republic, being the first bourgeois republic in Europe, never had a specific cultural or political identity (which was a continuing debate among its leaders). It still does not have a national identity, it simpy imports everything from abroad and makes it smaller, according to its own mindset. Culture has a very low priority in the country, so there is not much interest in Sweelinck's music as a 'symbol' of cultural identity.
Later composers never developed a national identity and were rooted either in music from Germany or France, which was the only way to develop at all. The first 'typically Dutch' national style in new music was created by Louis Andriessen in those jolly sixties of the last century, and an aesthetic embarrassment for any serious adult musician. Sweelinck would have turned in his grave if he heard it.
Hopefully this festival will draw the attention of musicians abroad, so that the music will travel into more wholesome air.