Misha Mengelberg

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Misha Mengelberg
Misha Mengelberg 1985.jpg
Mengelberg in 1985
Background information
Born (1935-06-05) 5 June 1935 (age 81)
Kiev, Ukraine
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Piano

Misha Mengelberg (born 5 June 1935)[1] is a Dutch jazz pianist and composer. He won the Gaudeamus International Composers Award in 1961.

Early life[edit]

Mengelberg was born in Kiev, Ukraine,[1] the son of the Dutch conductor Karel Mengelberg, who was himself the nephew of the conductor Willem Mengelberg. His family moved back to the Netherlands in the late 1930s and the young Mengelberg began learning the piano at age five.[1] Mengelberg briefly studied architecture before entering the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where he studied music from 1958 to 1964. While there he won the first prize at a jazz festival in Loosdrecht and became associated with Fluxus. His early influences included Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and John Cage, whom he heard lecture at Darmstadt.[2]

Later life and career[edit]

Mengelberg's first appearance on record was on Eric Dolphy's last album, Last Date (1964). Also on that record was the drummer Han Bennink, and the two of them, together with Piet Noordijk, formed a quartet which had a number of different bassists, and which played at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1966.[2] In 1967 he co-founded the Instant Composers Pool, an organisation which promoted avant garde Dutch jazz performances and recordings, with Bennink and Willem Breuker. He was co-founder of STEIM in Amsterdam in 1969.

Mengelberg has played with a large variety of musicians. He has often performed in a duo with fellow Dutchman Bennink, with other collaborators including Derek Bailey, Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker, Anthony Braxton, and (on the flip side of a live recording with Dolphy) his pet parrot. He was also one of the earliest exponents of the work of the once-neglected pianist Herbie Nichols.[2]

Mengelberg performing in 2004

He has also written music for others to perform (generally leaving some room for improvisation) and has overseen a number of music theatre productions, which usually include a large element of absurdist humour. A 2006 DVD release, Afijn (ICP/Data), is a primer on Mengelberg's life and work, containing an 80-minute documentary and additional concert footage.

Two of his students were Oscar van Dillen and Cor Fuhler.

Discography (in selection)[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

  • 1979: Pech Onderweg (BV Haast Records)
  • 1982: Musica Per 17 Instrumenti / 3 Intermezzi /Omtrent Een Componistenactie Composer's Voice
  • 1994: Impromptus (FMP)
  • 1997: Misha Mengelberg (I Dischi Di Angelica)
  • 1997: The Root Of The Problem (hatOLOGY)
  • 1999: Two Days In Chicago (hatOLOGY)
  • 2000: Solo (BUZZ Records)
  • 2005: Senne Sing Song (Tzadik)


As leader
With Eric Dolphy
With Han Bennink
  • 1968: Instant Composers Pool (Instant Composers Pool), including with John Tchicai
  • 1971: Instant Composers Pool 010 (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1972: Een Mirakelse Tocht Door Het Scharrebroekse no. 1-6 (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1974: EinePartieTischtennis (FMP, Instant Composers Pool), live
  • 1975: Coincidents (Stichting ICP Geluidsdragers, Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1978: Midwoud 77 (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1979: A European Proposal (Live In Cremona) (Horo Records), including with Paul Rutherford and Mario Schiano
  • 1982: Bennink Mengelberg (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1994: Mix (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1996: The Instant Composers Pool 30 Years (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1998: MiHa (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 2004: Senne Sing Song (Tzadik)
With Louis Andriessen
With ICP Orchestra
  • 1979: Live in Soncino (Instant Composers Pool, AD LIB)
  • 1982: Japan Japon (Instant Composers Pool), featuring Misha Mengelberg
  • 1984: Extension Red, White & Blue (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1987: Two Programs: Performs Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1990: Bospaadje Konijnehol I (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1991: Bospaadje Konijnehol II (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1999: Jubilee Varia (hatOLOGY)
  • 2001: Oh, My Dog (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 2004: Aan & Uit (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 2006: Weer Is Een Dag Voorbij (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 2009: Live At The Bimhuis (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 2010: !ICP! 50 (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 2010: ICP Orchestra (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 2014: East Of The Sun (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 2015: Misha Enzovoort (Instant Composers Pool), featuring Cherry Duyns
  • 2016: Restless In Pieces (Instant Composers Pool)
With Peter Brötzmann
  • 1979: 3 Points And A Mountain (FMP Records), including with Han Bennink
With Dudu Pukwana
With Keshavan Maslak
  • 1980: Humanplexity (Leo Records), including with Han Bennink
With Roswell Rudd
With Pino Minafra
  • 1987: Tropic Of The Mounted Sea Chicken (Splasc(H) Records), including with Michele Lomuto, Han Bennink, and Unknown Artist
With Steve Lacy
With Yuri Honing
With Paul Termos
With Benjamin Herman
With Alessandra Patrucco
With Frank Gratkowski
  • 2006: Frank Gratkowski Vis-à-vis Misha Mengelberg (Leo Records)
With Ab Baars


  1. ^ a b c Feather, Leonard & Gitler, Ira (2007) The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, p. 459. Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ a b c Layne, Joslyn. "Misha Mengelberg: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 30 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "Four in One – Misha Mengelberg Quartet | Releases". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Misha Mengelberg". Discography. Discogs.com. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 

External links[edit]