Philippe Boesmans

Belgian composer (1936, Tongeren)

Without turning his back on his serialist past, Philippe Boesmans transcended his own constraints by creating a "pure" music, in which expressiveness, consonance and rhythm occupy a central role.

Philippe Boesmans studied piano at the Conservatory in Liège, where Froidebise introduced him to serial composing techniques. In 1957, he  came across Henri Pousseur, Souris and Célestin Deliège,representing Belgian serialism, and under their impulse he started writing music as a self-taught composer. From 1962, he collaborated with Pousseur participating in productions of the Centre de Recherches Musicales de Wallonie, and also started performing as a pianist with the Ensemble Musique Nouvelle. That same year, he became a producer at the Radio Télévision Belge de la communauté Française (RTBF), working with the radio orchestra there. It was the beginning of his career and he gained international fame receiving many prizes. In 1981, Gérard Mortier, the general director of La Monnaie in Brussels, offered him the position of composer in residence at the La Monnaie opera house. La Monnaie then commissioned him to compose three operas: La passion de Gilles (1983), Reigen (1993), and Wintermärchen (1999) - based on a play by Shakespeare. His orchestral and instrumental music achieved great success too, especially his Violin Concerto, the recording of which was the recipient of the Académie Charles-Cros award. His works were also commissioned by the Arditti Quartet and the Ensemble InterContemporain.

6 key works by Philippe Boesmans:

1964: Sonuance, for 2 pianos

1969: Upon la-mi, for soprano, amplified horn and instrumental ensemble

1980: Concerto for violin and orchestra

1983: La passion de Gilles, opera

2010: Chambres d’à côté, for instrumental ensemble

2014: Au monde, opera

6 landmark dates in the life of Philippe Boesmans:

1962: Boesmans became a producer at the RTBF

1971: Awarded the Prix Italia for Upon la-mi

From 1985: Composer in residence at the La Monnaie opera house

2000: Awarded the Honegger prize for his works

2004: Received an SACD award

2007: The DVD of his opera Julie received the Charles Cros prize

Biography from Radio France document database, April 2014