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Composer Luc Brewaeys dies

18 December 2015

On 18 December, the Belgian composer Luc Brewaeys succumbed to cancer at the age of fifty-six. A leading composer of his generation, Brewaeys was awarded numerous prizes for his compositions. He was also heralded as musician of the year by the Flemish classical music station Klara in 2013.

Componist Luc Brewaeys in 2005 (foto: Paul De Smet)

Luc Brewaeys studied with André Laporte, Franco Donatoni and Brian Ferneyhough. His work with Iannis Xenakis in the 1980s and Jonathan Harvey’s influence were critical to his subsequent musical development. In his work, he focused on sound, and had a particular fondness for the symphony orchestra, as well as a great talent for orchestration.

Although considered a spectralist, Brewaeys was averse to academicism of any kind, claiming that his music was ‘different from French spectralism because it also contains a melodic aspect. That’s because as a Belgian, and one who was also raised bilingual, I’m situated right on the dividing line between French and German culture, the latter tending to be the more melodic.’

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has twice given performances of Brewaeys’s work – Along the Shores of Lorn during the AAA Festival in December 2012, and his Symphony No. 6 in December 2014. Both works were also released as part of the Horizon series on the RCO Live label.

Known for his work ethic, Brewaeys once said that the urge to compose was a disease more intractable than cancer. Commissioned by the RCO in early 2010, a new work for orchestra entitled …sciolto nel foro universale del vuoto… remains unfinished as a result of his recurring illness.