22 December 2022

In memoriam Wim Henderickx (1962-2022)

It was a huge blow to many. Composer Wim Henderickx died unexpectedly on Sunday 18 December, at the age of 60. He was still very active the week before. Known as Belgium’s leading composer, he had close ties with Dutch musical life. Dozens of composers attended his composition class at the Amsterdam Conservatory. Many posts appeared on social media as in memoriam. Almost everyone recalls his generous open mind, his enthusiasm and energy with which he used to teach.

In the Netherlands, his work was heard too little. At the 2018 Amsterdam Cello Biennale, Jean-Guihen Queyras played the premiere of his cello concerto Sangita with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra. The 2011 Holland Festival featured the orchestral work Tejas (2008). He regularly collaborated with the Nieuw Ensemble and Atlas Ensemble. Impressive in 2010 was the premiere of Mudra, conducted by Ed Spanjaard: the final piece of his much-talked-about seven-part Tantric Cycle, the magnum opus in which Wim Henderickx expressed his fascination for non-Western musical traditions and Eastern philosophy.

In Belgium, Henderickx was in-house composer with Muziektheater Transparant and the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra. He studied percussion and composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, sonology at IRCAM in Paris and at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. As a timpanist, Henderickx played with the New Belgian Chamber Orchestra.Wim Henderickx was known for exploring “sound worlds of the more detached kind”, as the NRC has written in 2020.

In May this year, Henderickx’s opera De bekeerlinge premiered at Opera Vlaanderen, the opera house’s best-attended contemporary production in 20 years. In April 2022, he had success with the premiere of his basset clarinet concerto Sutra.

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