Laporte was born in Oplinter, near Tienen in Flemish Brabant. He studied music with Edgard de Laet, Flor Peeters, and Marinus De Jong at the Lemmens Institute in Mechelen, and musicology and philosophy at the Catholic University of Leuven from 1953 to 1957. From 1960 to 1964 he participated annually in the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt, where he came into contact with Pierre Boulez, Bruno Maderna, Luciano Berio, György Ligeti, and Mauricio Kagel, amongst others (Mertens and Volborth-Danys 2001; Wylin and Diependaele 2008). In addition, he attended the Second and Third Cologne Courses for New Music organized by Karlheinz Stockhausen, in 1964–65 and 1965–66 where, in addition to Stockhausen, he had the opportunity of meeting the composers Henri Pousseur and Luciano Berio, as well as the conductor Michael Gielen (Stockhausen 1971, 198–200).
Starting in 1953, Laporte taught music at a secondary school in Brussels. In 1963 he helped to establish the SPECTRA work group at the Institute for Psycho-Acoustic and Electronic Music (IPEM). In 1972, together with Herman Sabbe, he founded the Belgian section of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM), and has been its chairperson ever since (Bouckaert 2001, 128). Beginning in 1968 he taught new-music techniques at the Koninklijk Conservatorium (Brussels), later being appointed to teach music analysis, theory of musical form, harmony and counterpoint. In 1988 he was appointed Professor of Composition there, and simultaneously became teacher of composition at the Muziekkapel Koningin Elisabeth in Waterloo. From 1979 to 1989 he worked at Belgian Radio and Television (BRT, now VRT), first as a music producer, then as a program coordinator, becoming in 1989 director of production for the BRT Philharmonic Orchestra, and from 1993 until 1996, director of ensembles (Wylin and Diependaele 2008).
Laporte’s earliest compositions, such as the 1954 Piano Sonata, are neoclassical in character but, beginning in the 1960s, his work was increasingly influenced by the Darmstadt avant garde. His style is eclectic, drawing on a range of pitch materials, for example, extending from traditional triads to clusters and microtones, with such contrasting material often alternating within a single piece (Sabbe 1972; Laporte 2003). Though he often employs twelve-tone technique, this is by no means an exclusive concern, and he often quotes music by earlier composers. For example, his opera Das Schloss (1981–85, based on Franz Kafka’s The Castle), quotes from Berg and Wagner, and the orchestral work Nachtmuziek (1970–71) contains citations from Mozart (Sabbe 1986). His Fantasia-Rondino con tema reale for violin and orchestra, composed for the 1989 Queen Elisabeth of Belgium competition, introduces national and royalist symbolism, first by using as tonal centres the notes B, G, and E drawn from the letters of the word "Belgique", second through the use of the Belgian national anthem, and third by the invention for the rondino of a "royal theme" composed of notes drawn from the names of the three most recent royal couples: EliSABetH, ALBErt, LEopolD, AStriD, FABiolA, BouDEwijn (Bouckaert 2001, 128).
Compositions (selective list)
- Piano Sonata (1954)
- Fugue in the Phrygian Mode, for organ (1958)
- Ostinato, for organ (1962)
- Sequenza I, for solo clarinet (1964)
- Sequenza II, for three clarinets and bass clarinet (1965)
- Jubilus, for brass and percussion (1966)
- Ascension, for piano (1967)
- Ludus fragilis, for solo oboe (1967)
- Story: Actus quasi-tragicus, for violin, viola, violoncello, and harpsichord (1967)
- Inclinations, for solo flute (1968)
- De Profundis, for a cappella choir (1968)
- Le morte chitarre (text by Salvatore Quasimodo), for tenor, flute, and strings (1969)
- Reflections, for solo clarinet (1970)
- Nachtmuziek (Night Music), for orchestra (1970–71)
- La vita non è sogno (Life Is Not a Dream, texts by Salvatore Quasimodo and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti), tenor, bass, narrator, chorus, and orchestra (1971–72)
- Icarus' flight, for piano and twelve instruments (1977)
- Transit, for 48 strings (1979)
- Das Schloss, opera in 3 acts, libretto by Laporte, after M. Brod’s adaptation of Franz Kafka's novel of the same title (1981–85)
- Two Suites from Das Schloss, for orchestra (1987, 1988)
- Fantasia-Rondino con tema reale, for violin and orchestra (1988)
- De ekster op de galg (The Magpie on the Gallows), concert overture, after Breughel (1989)
- Testamento de otoño (text by Pablo Neruda), for baritone, harp, and strings (1990)
- Winter Pastorale, for four bassoons and contrabassoon (1991)
- Seven Visions from the Apocalypse of Saint John, with an Introduction and Seven Trumpet-calls, for trumpet and organ (1993)
- Passacaglia serena, for orchestra (1994)
- Trois pièces, for piano (1997)
- Toccataglia, for piano (2002)
- Rieten-Ritueel, for 4 oboes, 2 oboes d'amore, 2 horns, bassoon, and contrabassoon (2005)
- André Laporte: Chamber Music. (Sequenza I for clarinet solo; Sequenza II for clarinet quartet; Story for 2 violins, cello, and harpsichord; Harry's Wonderland for bass clarinet and two tapes; Peripetie for brass sextet; C'isme for cello solo; A Flemish Round for clarinet, trombone, cello, and piano; Chamber Music for soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, and piano (adapted from James Joyce); Icarus' Flight for piano and 12 instruments.) Walter Boeykens, clarinet; Jan Guns, bass clarinet; Lieven van de Walle, violoncello; Antwerp Clarinet Quartet; Flemish New Music Group; Marc de Smed, conductor. Belgium: René Gailly International Productions, 1986.
- André Laporte: Das Schloss. Lena Lootens, Emily Rawlins, sopranos; Lucienne van Deyck, mezzo-soprano; Johanna Dur, contralto; Christoph Homberger, Philip Sheffield, Donald George, Wilhelm Richter, tenors; Bjørn Waag, Mario Taghadossi, baritones; George-Emil Crasnaru, Marcel Rosca, basses; BRTN-Mens-Choir; BRTN Philharmonic Orchestra Brussels; Alexander Rahbari, conductor. Recorded at the Magdalena Hall, Brussels, 25 September–7 October 1995. 2-CD set. DICD 920375/920376. [Vienna]: Koch Discover International, 1997.
- Symphonic and Vocal Works. including "The Magpie on the Gallows" concerto, La vita non è sogno, Testamento de otoño, and opera Das Schloss with Italian Spanish and German libretto. 4CDs. Fuga Libera
- Bouckaert, Thierry. 2001. Le rêve d'Élisabeth: cinquante ans de Concours Reine Élisabeth. Brussels: Editions Complexe. ISBN 2870278586.
- Delaere, Mark, and Joris Compeers. 2005. Flemish Piano Music Since 1950: Historical Overview, Discussion of Selected Works and Inventory, translated [from the Dutch] by Stratton Bull. With accompanying CD recording. Contemporary Music in Flanders 2. Leuven: Matrix, New Music Documentation Centre. ISBN 9789077717028 (pbk).
- Delaere, Marc, Yves Knockaert, and Herman Sabbe. 1998. Nieuwe muziek in Vlaanderen. Bruges: Stichting Kunstboek. ISBN 90-74377-57-2.
- Delaere, Mark, and Veronique Verspeurt. 2008. Flemish Music Theatre Since 1950: Historical Overview, Discussion of Selected Works and Inventory. With accompanying CD recording. Contemporary Music in Flanders 5. Leuven: Matrix, New Music Documentation Centre. ISBN 9789077717004.
- D'Hooghe, Kamiel. 1998. "Een gesprek met André Laporte". Orgelkunst 21, no. 1 (March): 17–21.
- Fábián, Imre. 1987. "Auf den Spuren von Alban Berg: die Kafka-Oper Das Schloss von Andre Laporte wurde in Brüssel uraufgeführt". Opernwelt 28, no. 2:24–25.
- Jungheinrich, Hans-Klaus. 1987. "Grosser Stoff—Musik aus zweiter Hand: Andre Laportes Schloss in Brüssel." Musica 41, no. 2:163–65.
- Laporte, André. 2003. "De complementariteit van tonale en atonale systemen". In Onder hoogspanning: Muziekcultuur in de hedendaagse samenleving, edited by Marc Leman, 265–70. Gent: Rijksuniversiteit. ISBN 90-5487-356-6.
- Löhlein, Heina-Harald. 1987. "Die unbeantwortbare Seinsfrage: Andre Laportes Kafka-Oper Das Schloss in Brüssel uraufgefuehrt." Neue Zeitschrift für Musik no. 3 (March): 36.
- Martin, S. 1987. "Andre Laporte: Das Schloss". Diapason-Harmonie, no. 324 (February): 21.
- Mertens, Corneel, and Diana von Volborth-Danys. 2001. "Laporte, André". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- O'Loughlin, Niall. 1972. "Change of Wind." The Musical Times 113, no. 1550 (April): 388–89.
- Plovie, Rony. 1998. "Ostinato per organo van André Laporte". Orgelkunst 21, no. 1 (March): 22–25.
- Roquet, Flavie. 2007. "Laporte, André". In Flavie Roquet, Vlaamse componisten geboren na 1800: lexicon, 433–34. Roeselare: Roularta Books. ISBN 9789086790906.
- Sabbe, Herman. 1972. "De Vlaamse componist André Laporte: overzicht van een evolutie," Mens en melodie 27:133–36.
- Sabbe, Herman. 1986. "André Laporte: Mimus eclecticus." In the program book for Das Schloss. Brussels, Théâtre La Monnaie (16 December): 21–36.
- Stockhausen, Karlheinz. 1971. Texte zur Musik 3 (1963–1970), edited by Dieter Schnebel. DuMont Dokumente. Cologne: Verlag M. DuMont Schauberg. ISBN 3-7701-0493-5.
- Wylin, Tom, and Rebecca Diependaele. 2008. "Laporte, André". Belgian Centre for Music Documentation (CEBEDEM) website (accessed 30 September 2013).