ivo janssen

Bach Cycle
Liner notes

music below decks


Anna Enquist



In October 2009 pianist Ivo Janssen moved to a former ammunition barge in the centre of Amsterdam. From the very first visit to this houseboat, with its robust, seaworthy concrete hull and heavy oak structure, it was clear that this could be made into something special. When, after some debate with the authorities concerned, the fitting of sixteen port-holes was approved, and, furthermore, an engineer confirmed that the rather massive concrete construction could be made considerably lighter, an adventurous idea took shape: a concert hall on the water, in the middle of the city. 

In the following years a lot of renovating was done on the whole of the ship, and the part down below where the stage was to be situated transformed drastically. Roughly six tons of rock-hard and heavily reinforced concrete was hacked away and removed in order to create a space of twelve by six meters, partly six meters in height, ready to hold an audience of a hundred. In the middle of Amsterdam, on a houseboat: Janssenbeton - music below decks.

On March 21, 2014, 24Classics organized the first Happy Bach day. In that context the very first Janssenbeton concert took place. The grand piano was still on the top floor, which seated about sixty visitors.

Soon after, a hole was made in the floor, and the piano moved down below. On May 11 and 18 the opening concerts of Janssenbeton took place. With 4 of 5 concerts sold out it was a successful inauguration of this remarkable new concert location on the canals.

In the first full Janssenbeton concert season 2014/2015 pianist Ivo Janssen gave no less than 15 concerts. Over a thousand visitors came on board of the characteristic concrete barge. Still renovation was continuing, and it did so for several years, which made a frequent visit to this unique location all the more worth wile. Eventually, since those first concerts in 2014, over a hundred concerts would be given on Janssenbeton. With emphasis on J.S. Bach’s keyboard works, as to be expected, but also with music by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schostakovich, Ten Holt and others.

In March 2020, by popular demand, 6 final concerts, all of them sold out, were scheduled. The corona pandemic put a stop to those. On September 1, 2021, the ammunition barge changed ownership, and Janssenbeton ceased to exist.