Willem Breuker

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Willem Breuker
Willem Breuker 1970.jpg
Background information
Born(1944-11-04)4 November 1944
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died23 July 2010(2010-07-23) (aged 65)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger
InstrumentsSaxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
LabelsInstant Composers Pool
Associated actsHan Bennink, Misha Mengelberg, Globe Unity Orchestra

Willem Breuker (4 November 1944, in Amsterdam – 23 July 2010, in Amsterdam) was a Dutch jazz bandleader, composer, arranger, saxophonist, and (bass) clarinetist.

Early years[edit]

During the mid 1960s he played with percussionist Han Bennink and pianist Misha Mengelberg,[1] co-founding the Instant Composers Pool (ICP),[2] with which he regularly performed until 1973. He was a member of the Globe Unity Orchestra[1] and the Gunter Hampel Group.

Willem Breuker Kollektief[edit]

In 1974, he began leading the 10-piece Willem Breuker Kollektief, which performed jazz in a theatrical and often unconventional manner, drawing elements from theater and vaudeville.[3] With the group, he toured Western Europe, Russia, Australia, India, China, Japan, the United States, and Canada.

He was also known as an authority on the music of Kurt Weill. In 1997, he produced, with Carrie de Swaan, a 48-hour, 12-part radio documentary on the life of Weill entitled Componist Kurt Weill.

Career Highlights[edit]

In 1974, he founded the record label BVHaast. Beginning in 1977, he organized the annual Klap op de Vuurpijl (Top It All) festival in Amsterdam. Haast Music Publishers, which he also operated, published his scores.

In 1992, Editions de Limon published the book Willem Breuker by J. and F. Buzelin in France. Uitgeverij Walburg Pers published a Dutch translation in 1994. BVHaast published the book Willem Breuker Kollektief: Celebrating 25 Years on the Road, which includes two CDs, in 1999.

In 1998, Breuker was knighted with the Order of the Netherlands Lion.


Willem Breuker died on 23 July 2010 in Amsterdam. He suffered from lung cancer and had been ill for some time.[4]

Willem Breuker award[edit]

In 2017 the ‘Willem Breuker Prijs’ was awarded for the first time to Reza Namavar (nl). A bi-annual prize for contemporary composers, it was last awarded in 2019 to Nora Mulder (nl).[5]


  1. ^ a b Henkin, Andrey (2004-09-17). "Interviews: Willem Breuker". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-07-25.
  2. ^ Whitehead, Kevin (September 1997). "ICP Orchestra". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-07-25.
  3. ^ Litweiler, John (1984). The Freedom Principle: Jazz After 1958. Da Capo. pp. 250–252. ISBN 0-306-80377-1.
  4. ^ Chinen, Nate (29 July 2010). "Willem Breuker, Dutch Composer and Bandleader, Dies at 65". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  5. ^ Willem Breuker website

External links[edit]