Leo Samama (b. 1951) graduated from the University of Utrecht in Musicology and studied composition for some years under Rudolf Escher. In 1976-77 he continued his doctoral studies at UCLA in Los Angeles, California, supported by a Rotary Foundation Grant.
Between 1977 and 1988 Leo Samama taught History of Music and Culture (History of Art, Philosophy and Aesthetics) at the Utrecht Conservatory. Between 1987 and 1989 he lectured on “Musical criticism in theory and practice” at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. He worked at the Musicology Department at the Utrecht University between 1988 and 1992, specialising in the Music of the Twentieth Century and Musical Criticism.
Between 1978 and 1984 he was a critic for De Volkskrant and between 1986 and 1990 he was a correspondent for the NRC Handelsblad, both leading newspapers in the Netherlands. He also wrote for several prominent magazines. From 1988 to 1994, Leo Samama sat on the board of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam as the orchestra’s artistic advisor, and between 1991 and 1993 he was head of the orchestra’s artistic department. From 1988 to 1993, Samama was artistic adviser to the Centrum Nederlandse Muziek, an organisation specialising in the promotion of Dutch music. He was an advisor to the NCRV broadcasting company between 1992 and 1994. From 1996 to 2003, he was head of the artistic department of the Residentie Orchestra The Hague, and he was general manager of the Netherlands Chamber Choir between 2003 and 2010. He is the co-founder of the Netherlands String Quartet Academy, and he has given radio broadcasts and guest lectures all over the country.
His musicological writings include books and essays on contemporary music, the philosophy of music and Dutch music in particular. Among his publications are Nederlandse muziek in de 20-ste eeuw (Dutch Music in the 20th Century, Amsterdam 1986/2006, the first comprehensive survey of the subject), the monograph Alphons Diepenbrock, componist van het vocale (Alphons Diepenbrock, Composer of the Vocal, Amsterdam, 2012), Een beknopt overzicht van duizend jaar Britse muziek (A concise survey of 1000 years of British music, Amsterdam, 2003) and Het soloconcert (The Concerto, Amsterdam 2015). Recently The Meaning of Music (Amsterdam 2015, Chicago 2016) has been published, after a successful release of the Dutch edition.
Since 1975 Leo Samama has written some ninety compositions for a great diversity of ensembles, which have been performed all over the world, recorded on CD and broadcast nationally. In the Netherlands, many of his university lectures have been recorded and released on CD.
In 2010 Leo Samama was knighted as an Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau for his contribution to Dutch musical life.