"it was good to hear what Schat, a leading composer of our day by any standards, has lately been up to, and to attend a kind of music-drama seldom encountered in America"
Quote from Andrew Porter in the NEW YORKER, after visiting the Aspen Music Festival (1979) attending the opera 'Houdini'
Peter Schat: from the end of the fifties until well into the nineties he was a composer, activist, and publicist; a man who was always going against the grain, and a public figure who refused to distinguish between moral and musical commitment. From around 1960 onwards he embraced serialism and became well-known for his radical ideas, both musically and politically; the Dutch Provo movement was housed in his basement. But as a composer he only really came into his own when he turned his back on serialism and returned to the tradition which inspired him to a re-formulation of tonality in the early eighties. He devised what he called the Tone Clock, a harmonic system which he presented in 1982. Between 1977 en 1980, when his operas Houdini and Aap Verslaat de Knekelgeest were favourably received, and when Houdini was even performed in the United States, reviewers outside the Netherlands, too, became convinced of his significance as a composer. Aap Verslaat de Knekelgeest, which is based on a Chinese strip cartoon about the struggle of the fairy-tale figure 'MONKEY subdues the White-bone Demon', sealed his reputation as a born theatre composer.