Brewaeys, Luc


Brewaeys, Luc

Het raadsel van de sfinks, for Cello, Clarinet Bb, Percussion, Piano / Harpsichord and Violin (score and parts, first print)


Luc Brewaeys – The Riddle of the Sphinx (1983)

(Mortsel, 1959 – Vilvoorde, 2015)

Luc Brewaeys is undeniably one of the most important composers of his generation in Flanders. With a substantial body of work, comprised of solo pieces, chamber music and ensemble pieces and a particularly large orchestral output, including eight symphonies, Brewaeys manifested himself as one of the leading figures in new music in Flanders. Even more than the size of his oeuvre, it’s the quality of his music that gave Brewaeys his reputation. He himself describes his musical position as typically Flemish in the sense that he could absorb influences from the larger neighbouring countries without being straitjacketed into a strict, uniform aesthetic. This means there are French influences (Pierre Boulez, Tristan Murail, Gérard Grisey) which can mostly be heard in Brewaeys’s harmonic system, a German preference for thoughtful/ingenious and structural organisation and even a melodic flair, which can almost be regarded as Italian. The fact that his mentors are just as international can therefore not be a coincidence: André Laporte, Franco Donatoni, Brian Ferneyhough and in those same formative years he stayed in close contact with Iannis Xenakis.

The most important musically aesthetic term to describe Luc Brewaeys’s music is ‘spectralism’. Since 1983, when he integrates spectral harmonies for the first time, in the music for Het Raadsel van de Sfinks (The Riddle of the Sphinx), his music fits in with the composing techniques that were developed by French composers such as Tristan Murail and Gérard Grisey. This ‘spectral music’ is based on the physical aspect of the overtone series. Every tone has not only a fundamental frequency (eg. the middle A of 440 Hz) but also a whole series of many softer frequencies that naturally resonate with the fundamental frequency. Apart from a few exceptions, the ratio of these frequencies is always the same (the ‘overtone series’), however, not all overtones are equally prominent: the difference in which overtones are stronger or weaker, is what we perceive as a difference in tone colour: the reason why that same 440 Hz A sounds different on a trumpet than on a clarinet. In a spectral composition, the overtone series serves as the base for the harmony, or to put it simply: notes with frequencies from the same overtone series are combined with each other. …


Read full preface (Flemish preface also available) > HERE

Score No.

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