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Wim Mertens
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WIM MERTENS biography 24.08.07

The Belgian composer Wim Mertens (born 1953) is an international recording and performing artist who has given several concerts, as a soloist and with his ensemble all over Europe, in North and Central America, Japan and in Russia.

Wim Mertens is a singer who plays the piano and the classical guitar.

Since 1980 he has composed many pieces in different formats, from short, accessible songs or Lieder to complex three and four parts cycles; and for different settings: from piano solo to chamber music ensembles and symphonic orchestra. He often writes for unusual instrumentations: twelve piccolos, ten basstrombones, thirteen clarinets, seven harps.

Wim Mertens also works for the theatre and the movies. He wrote the score for the 1984 performance of Jan Fabre's The Power of theatrical madness at the Venice Biennale and the soundtrack for Peter Greenaway's 1987 film, The belly of an architect.

In 1993, Mertens composed and performed original music for piano and voice for the silent movies La femme de nulle part by Louis Delluc and for The land beyond the sunset by Harold Shaw.

Since his recording debut in 1980, For amusement only, an electronic composition for pinball machines, Wim Mertens has released more than 50 albums.

Early landmark albums are Vergessen (1982), introducing Mertens first writings for ensemble, and Struggle for pleasure, including Close cover.

The composition Struggle for pleasure was chosen by the French TGV ­ railway company for a national promotion campaign.

The 1985 album Maximizing the audience, marks the introduction of the vocal element in Mertens music. Throughout the years the composer has expressed the increasing vocal inspiration of his music on albums such as A man of no fortune, and with a name to come (1986), After virtue (1988) and Stratégie de la rupture (1991) - all of them having highly lyrical and distinctive combination of piano and voice.
The composition 'Iris' from the album 'Stratégie de la rupture' was chosen by the French company France Telecom, for its national promotion campaign.

1989 has Mertens return to ensemble writing with Motives for writing, leading up to the 1991 Alle dinghe, a three-part cycle covering 7 cd's, written for different instrumentations and celebrating the first ten years of Mertens' career. The title Al (from Alle dinghe) was chosen as the opening music for the inauguration of the french cinema complex UGC in Brussels.

In 1990 Wim Mertens wrote the soundtrack for the film 'Rust' – 'Ryo', directed by Làrus Ymir Oskarsson, based in Island.

The double project Shot and echo - A sense of place (1992) can be considered as typical for Mertens musical temperament and approach, the two cd's tackling the same material in totally different ways, the composer continuously shifting moods and changing his position.

The composition 'Their Duet' from the album 'Shot and Echo' was chosen by the Spanish Telecom company for its national promotion campaign.

Shot and echo - A sense of place is followed by the sequel to Alle dinghe, the even grander Gave van niets. This four parts cycle, four years in the making and covering two double and two triple cd's, reveals the ever growing importance of intuition and organic flow, opposed to conceptualization, as the main source for Mertens' music.

Also in 1992, Wim Mertens wrote original music for the 'Raoul Servais- documentary film', directed by Benoit Peeters. He also composed the soundtrack for the Belgian film 'Je pense à vous', directed by the brothers Luc and Jean - Pierre Dardenne.

1994 marks a turning point in Mertens career. The solo album Epic that never was is Mertens first live recording and a confirmation of his increasing stature and ambition as a performer. The album is recorded in Lisbon at the Saö Luiz Theatre.

In 1994, he composed the original soundtrack for the French director Pierre Boutron with his film Fiesta.

The album A man of no fortune, and with a name to come is chosen by Marion Hänsel to be the soundtrack of her film Li - Between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Mertens also wrote the music for Jan Keymeulen's film Lisa.

1995: Jérémiades, Mertens fifth album for piano and voice is under the theme of the Lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah crying on the destruction of Jerusalem, but without the original text. Wim Mertens presents the work in his own language.

1996 is Mertens return to ensemble writing with Jardin clos. This new album is composed for an extended ensemble and it has, somehow, orchestral accents.

1997 sees the release of the unexpected guitar album Sin embargo. Not many people know that the first contact of Wim Mertens with an instrument was, at the age of 8, when he started playing the guitar. In fact, during ten years Wim Mertens composed music for guitar.

Still in 1997, Wim Mertens' music was used by German filmmaker Tom Tykwer for his film 'Winter Sleepers'.

In 1998, on the album Integer valor we can listen to the extended orchestrations (strings, brass instruments, guitar, bass, percussion and piano) and some compositions start in a very explicit composed way but evolving later on towards musical sections in which the composer integrates as well elements of notated improvisation. With Integer valor, Wim Mertens has crossed a new step in his musical story and this new chapter offers a strong and powerful set of orchestrated compositions.

In 1998 Wim Mertens was nominated Cultural Ambassador of Flanders.

He was also commissioned to compose the music for the Belgian Pavillion at the Internationnal Exposition in Lisbon.

Begin 1999, Mertens works for the cinema again and composes the original soundtrack for Paul Cox's film Father Damien.

He also composes original music for the documentary 'Entre Flore et Thalie', directed by Francoise Levie.

In 1999 Wim Mertens starts collaborating with the Brazilian filmmaker Marcelo Masagao for his documentary on the 20th century 'Nos que aqui estamos por vos esperamos' – 'Here we are waiting for you'.

In spring 1999, he releases the 3 cd¹s box set Integer valor - Intégrale. The box-set features the material composed over the last three years, partly released on the homonymous album and on limited edition-singles. This work represents a point of telling equipoise in orchestral sound, which Mertens has achieved through a long recording studio effort.

In December 1999, Wim Mertens releases Kere weerom. This trilogy was composed and recorded between 1995 and 1999. Kere weerom is the compositional sequel to the trilogy Alle dinghe (1986-1990) and the tetralogy Gave van niets (1990-1994) and is composed of: Poèma (2 cd's, piano), Kere weerom (3 cd's, strings / guitar / harp / percussion and piano) and Decorum (2 cd's, clarinet / flute and guitar).

Since 1999, Wim Mertens 1982 ­ composition ' Struggle for Pleasure ' is used by Belgian telephone mobile company Proximus for its internal and national promotional communications.

In 2000 Wim Mertens receives 2 Music Awards. The Music Award of Joseph Plateau in Belgium for the best soundtrack of 'Father Damien', and the Crystal Award Lens in Miami -Brazilian Film Festival - for the documentary 'Nos que aqui estamos por vos esperamos'.

In February 2000, Wim Mertens releases If I can. This album is recorded with the Belgian National Radio choir in 1986.

In September 2000, five years after Jérémiades, Wim Mertens, who celebrates this year his 20-years career, releases Der heisse brei, Mertens' sixth album for piano and voice. The track Geraüsch was used as generic for the portuguese national television programme 'Al outro lado' .

Also in 2000, Wim Mertens composes original music for the documentary on Belgian painter Roger Raveel.

In 2001, twenty years after the first release of At home - Not at home Mertens releases the full CD of these legendary recordings, featuring the American composer ­ musician Peter Gordon. 4 new tracks from this session are added: That strange attractor - Dense points - Coloured by turning - and that M. There is also a live version of Not at home recorded at Opera Baltycka, Gdansk, Poland.

In December 2001, Wim Mertens releases Aren lezen. This tetralogy was composed and recorded between 1995 and 2001. Aren lezen is the compositional sequel to the trilogy Kere weerom (1995-1999), the tetralogy Gave van niets (1990-1994) and the trilogy Alle dinghe (1986-1990). The cycles is completed. The overall title will be 'Qua' and consists of 37 hours of music on 37 CD's.

Also in 2001, Wim Mertens delivers the score for the film 'Qui vive', directed by the Dutch filmmaker Frans Weisz.

In March 2002, Wim Mertens starts with the release of a live series entitled Years without history. The first volume is called Moins de mètre, assez de rythme. The live recordings have been completed in the 80's and the 90's.

Mertens often presents his work in different instrumentations. Solo or ensemble concerts; piano and violin - clarinet and flute and more ambitious settings for horns, alternating with female voices. The singing comes in the first place. Moins de mètre, assez de rythme is a duo concert recorded on 1st October 1992 in Paris, with clarinetplayer Dirk Descheemaeker. The latest created a lot of Wim Mertens pieces like Circles (1984) and Instrumental songs (1985). The duo titles in Moins de mètre, assez de rythme refer to Mertens' solo work (Lir), the ensemble pieces (Wandering eyes) and the cycle Qua (La mesure).

In the absence of hindrance, the second volume of the live series Years without history, was released on June 2002. This solo concert was recorded in Poland, in Gdansk on 22nd November 1998 at the Opera Baltycka.

Cave musicam, the third volume released on November 2002 was recorded in Brugge on 29th October 1998 at the Stadsschouwburg. Wim Mertens presents with his brass quartet a selection from the following albums: Integer Valor (1998); Vergessen (1982); Maximizing the audience (1985) and Struggle for pleasure (1983).

2003: Wim Mertens Moment, release of a box set with 13 albums covering the period 1980-1989. Remastered, repackaged in original covers. 80 compositions, including 6 unreleased tracks.

The fourth volume of the live series, Years without history: Not yet, no longer, was released in June 2003. This brass quartet concert was recorded in Gdansk, Poland on the 9th November 2002. Wim Mertens presents compositions from Aren lezen Part III: Kaosmos - Human guesswork.

Since July 2003 several scores by Wim Mertens are published. Close cover, Struggle for
pleasure and Not at home for solo piano. The scores 4 Mains for piano 4 mains, Sin embargo for solo guitar; Inergys, Salernes and Gentlemen of leisure for piano and solo instrument, Geslagen for solo drums and Multiple 12 for solo piano, including the titles: Circular breathing, Tourtour and Multiple 12.

In 2003, Wim Mertens composes the soundtrack for the Brazilian film '1.99 - a supermarket that sells words ', directed by Marcelo Masagao.

December 2003, release of the album Skopos. Skopos, in Greek, means, 'reach', 'range', 'hitting the target', or 'a musical line that is followed by the melody'. The album refers to 'within reach' what we can see, what we can hear, everything that can be heard and interpreted, is 'within the scope.' Whereas, the deep resonance and tones in the compositions refer to what is 'out of reach', what is not palpable, what is not necessarily visible, or perceptible, or audible, it is 'outside the scope.'

In May 2004 Wim Mertens releases, the 5th volume of the live series Years without history: 'With no need for seeds', including The fosse, Whisper me, Close cover and two previously unreleased compositions. The concert was recorded in December 1986 in Madrid, Spain, and presents the Wim Mertens Ensemble with six soprano voices, violin, flute, clarinet, piano and voice.

2005 is the release of the solo album Un respiro. At the dawn of his 25 years of career (1980-2005), Wim Mertens invites us for a 'voyage' in the orchestral perception.
Un respiro, Mertens' new solo album offers 10 new compositions, often very rhythmical tracks composed for two pianos and two voices all performed by the composer himself.
Un respiro shows Mertens' passion for the voice, not using it as an instrument but presenting the voice as a guide for the piano. Un respiro is Mertens' 6th solo studio album as a solo performer pianist/singer.

It shows how composing today can also be strongly related to the performance itself. How the performance and the singing/playing are interweaving and thus creating one single event.

In 2005 Wim Mertens composed the soundtrack for 'Der Lebensversicherer', a film directed by the German cineast Bülent Ackinci.

The composition Struggle for pleasure was used for Hyundai in Australia for its internal and national promotional communications. The composition was also aired in Ireland an New Zealand.

2006 was a special year for Wim Mertens ' 25 years' career .
He received the Cultural Prize 2006 from the Province of Limburg, Belgium, awarded on 27th June 2006 and celebrated by an exclusive concert by the artist and his ensemble in the Provincial Museum 'Begijnhofkerk' in Sint-Truiden .

Wim Mertens released the album Partes extra partes recorded with the Flemish Radio Orchestra (VRO), conducted by the Argentinian Dante Anzolini; and including some of his most famous compositions -Struggle for pleasure, Close cover, The belly of an architect- along with previously unreleased tracks. He made his first DVD live recording - 'What you see is what you hear' -, including 16 compositions selected from 25 years' career. Recorded in the Roma in Antwerpen on 30th September 2005. The concert featured an ensemble of 12 musicians with 6 female singers, string ensemble and Wim Mertens, piano and voice.

In 2006, Wim Mertens also wrote the soundtrack for a documentary about the Belgian writer Willem Elsschot : Erfgenaam van Elsschot, directed by the Dutch cineast Suzanne Raes.

Wim Mertens collaborated in 2006 again with the Brazilian filmmaker Marcelo Masagao for his new film ' Otavio e as letras ­ Octavio and the words'. The film is selected for the Internationnal Film Festival of San Sebastian, Spain 2007.

On June 5th 2007, Wim Mertens premiered a full evening concert with the ' Orquestra de la communidad de Madrid ' ­Orcam-, at the Albeniz Theatre in Madrid. The symphonic orchestra with more than 7O musicians was conducted by Dirk Brossé with Wim Mertens playing the piano and singing as well.

Wim Mertens presented his new String Ensemble at the occasion of a concert in the Festival Noches de San Benito in Valladolid, Spain, July 15, 2007 .

In Ostia, Rome, Italy, at the Arena Antiqua, Wim Mertens gave a marathon solo performance for piano and voice, on July 20th 2007.

The album ' Receptacle ' was recorded in February-March 2007. EMI Classics will release the CD on September 24th. 'Receptacle' is performed by a group of 17 musicians, all women, and includes 9 new compositions.

Wim Mertens signs a contract with EMI Classics ( excluding Spain) for his entire catalogue.
An ambitious re-release plan of his back-catalogue starts in January 2008. His 'oeuvre intégrale' will be made available digitally and worldwide.
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