Philippe Boesmans

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Philippe Boesmans (born 17 May 1936) is a Belgian composer.


Boesmans was born in Tongeren and studied piano at the Conservatory in Liège, where he was also introduced to serial composing techniques by Pierre Froidebise. However, it was only after coming into contact with the "Liège Group" (Henri Pousseur, André Souris, and Célestin Deliège) in 1957 that he began to write music, as a self-taught composer. Starting in 1962 he participated in productions of the Centre de Recherches Musicales de Wallonie, collaborating with Pousseur. He was also active as a pianist with the Ensemble Musique Nouvelle. Also in 1962 he became a producer at the Radio Télévision Belge de la Communauté Française (RTBF), working with the radio orchestra there. From this experience he learned much about composing and orchestrating music. Recognition quickly followed, and in 1971 he won the Prix Italia for his composition Upon La-Mi (Visscher 2001).

He still works as a producer for the RTBF and is composer in residence at the La Monnaie opera house in Brussels.

Selected works[edit]

  • Violin Concerto (1980)
  • String Quartet No.1 (1988)
  • Surfing for viola and orchestra (1990)
  • Love and Dance Tunes for baritone and piano (1993); settings from Shakespeare's sonnets
  • Summer Dreams, String Quartet No.2 (1994)




  • Morris, Mark. 1996. "The Opera La passion de Gilles (1983) Is a Dark Story of Perversion, Malice, and Child Abuse, Set in the 15th Century and Providing a Commentary on the Present Day. Its Colours Are Dark, Intense, and Sparse, in Keeping with the Subject". In A Guide to 20th-Century Composers.[full citation needed]
  • Visscher, Eric de. 2001. "Boesmans, Philippe". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

Further reading[edit]

  • Auzolle, Cécile. 2014. "Vers l'étrangeté, ou l'opéra selon Philippe Boesmans". Arles: Actes sud.
  • A biography on IRCAM's website (French)
  • Deliège, Célestin, Bernard Foccroule, and Claude Ledoux. 1983. Philippe Boesmans. Paris and Brussels: Opéra national de Belgique & Éditions BEBA.