The Lely-suite
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image movie
Artistic director, camera, editing: Miranda van der Spek
Storytelling: Ester Veldhuis
Music composition: Jeroen Zijlstra (, Thomas Geerts (, Ester Veldhuis


The Lely suite is a documentary and a museum application about the ‘great life’ of the hydraulic engineer and statesman Cornelis Lely as the driving force behind the Zuiderzee Works.

Leitmotiv in the documentary is the specially composed Lely suite, performed live by the Amsterdam Brass Quintet – making use of the natural elements – on the Afsluitdijk between North Holland and Friesland. The Lely suite is a special visual commemorative document and also a musical ode to engineer Cornelis Lely and the Zuiderzee Works, one of the world’s largest hydraulic engineering projects.

A stone setter, a dredger, a hydraulic engineer, the first inhabitant of the polder, a fisherman, an opponent of the Zuiderzee Act, a historian, a descendant of Lely, and an artist who visualises the iconic value of the Afsluitdijk, tell – each tell from a different perspective – how the implementation of the Zuiderzee Act has changed the appearance of the Netherlands. A masterpiece that could only be conceived by a great visionary.

The music, the stories, the animated drawings, archive images and drone images of the landscape together form the construction of the film: an ode to Lely, the Zuiderzee Works, basalt, water and boulder clay.

The first two parts of the Lely suite music were performed live on radio NPO4 on Friday 25 May 2018 at the program ‘ De Klassieken’  by Ab Nieuwdorp.

The Lely suite premiered on 14 June: exactly 100 years after the Zuiderzee Act was promulgated in the Staatsblad. The music, with video images of the film, was performed at the conference ‘The Netherlands in 100 years!’, in Lelystad, in the heart of the former Zuiderzee (Batavialand, Lelystad) in the presence of, among others, the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen.

After the premiere, the film and the music were subsequently screened and performed at various events that were organised in the context of the celebration of 100 years of the Zuiderzee Act:

  • The composition the Lely suite was performed during the Almere Haven Festival on September 1, 2018 by Almere Brass Band.
  • The documentary was broadcasted on various provincial channels in Flevoland, Gelderland en Noord-Holland.
  • The museum application was shown as a traveling exhibition at various museums around the IJsselmeer, starting in Batavialand, Lelystad and then in museums in Harderwijk, Huizen, Elburg, Spakenburg and Monnickendam and the Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen.

Commissioned by Province Flevoland


With financial support from:

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