BUCKINX Boudewijn (1945)

Boudewijn Buckinx was born in Lommel in 1945. He studied at the Antwerp conservatory at the Institute for Psycho-Acoustic and Electronic Music (IPEM) in Ghent. He studied composition with Lucien Goethals. From 1966 to 1974, Buckinx gave concerts with the work group WHAM (Work group for contemporary and actual music). In 1968 he studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen at the Kompositionsstudio in Darmstadt, working with the composer on the project entitled Musik für ein Haus. Buckinx has also been strongly influenced by Mauricio Kagel and John Cage; in 1972 he wrote his final major paper at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven on Cage’s Variations. The intention of WHAM was to attract specialists from other disciplines, such as, for example, philosophers and painters. Amateurs who were involved with the music process also found a place in WHAM. Besides performing Cage, WHAM focused on the music of Christian Wolff and Cornelius Cardew. The final concert of the work group took place in 1974 with Buckinx’s composition Sinfonia a Quattro velocipedi. After this followed a period of five years during which Buckinx composed but had none of his works performed. In 1988, he was the Belgian guest at the second edition of the Week for Contemporary Music in Ghent. A concert serving as a portrait of the composer was given in Kiel (Germany) in June 1991. Similar “Buckinx concerts” took place in the Espace Delvaux in Brussels and the Club Mineral in Ghent. His Negen onvoltooide symfonieën (Nine unfinished symphonies) were premiered as part of “Antwerp ’93, European Cultural Capital” by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders. In 1993 a nine-day-long Buckinx festival was held in De Rode Pomp in Ghent. In 1988, together with the composers Gerard Ammerlaan and Jacob ter Veldhuis, he was involved with the opera project Van alle tijden – van alle streken (From all times – from all places).



Boudewijn Buckinx is numbered among the postmodernists. He evolved from being an avant-gardist to being the leading postmodern figure in Belgium. Although there are no avant-garde stylistic elements audible in his most recent music, he never truly repudiated modernism. Even the “easy” works in his postmodern style betray the spirit of the social critic. Buckinx began to compose from an early age. His first composition dates from the age of eight. He would later destroy everything from this period, with the result that his earliest preserved composition dates from 1955. He studied the technique of composition with Goethals and Stockhausen. At the IPEM in Ghent he experimented with electronic music. Slöjd (1966-68) was the first work that was created in the context of the WHAM. After these first compositions, which are closely related to the musical avant garde, Boudewijn Buckinx moved on to postmodernism. A number of elements which return regularly are the use of working titles and a form of “everyday” composition. Since it is difficult to assign a particular style to Buckinx, his approach has sometimes been characterised as a “quasi” style: his music can be “quasi-Stravinsky”, “quasi-Ives”, “quasi-Strauss”, and so on. Typical of his work is the avoidance of all extremes, both in terms of tempi and dynamics. These different aspects of his music will here be looked at in more detail. In the period 1974-83, Buckinx became intrigued by the notion of “translating” or converting materials into music. His cycle entitled Basho’s Reisschetsen (Basho’s travelogues) (1977-79) is a good example of this. Another work which came into being in this way is the Symphonisch gedicht (Symphonic poem). This work was created in collaboration with Jan Hoet. The subject here is seven almost identical paintings which incorporate sounding objects. Here we encounter for the first time the use of working titles: a work receives an extra meaning through the use of the title “symphonic poem”. The symphonic poem is traditionally a musical work illustrating an extra-musical subject, such as a landscape. This approach is applied very literally here, as the paintings are actually filled with sound The result is an ambiguous relationship between the title on the one hand and the musical conception on the other. Other working titles are conceived in terms of such daily realities as Voor het vertrek (op vakantie) (Before leaving (on vacation)) and Blijf aan de lijn. Wij verbinden u door (Stay on the line. We’ll put you through). These working titles are reminiscent of Erik Satie. He in fact makes direct references to Satie in works such as De Apotheose van Sabbe voor Sarasate (of viool), Satie (of piano) en Sabbe (of cello) (The apotheosis of Sabbe for Sarasate (or violin), Satie (or piano) and Sabbe (or cello)) and in Drie stukken voor Peer in de vorm van “drie stukken in de vorm van een peer” (Three pieces for Peer [a city in Belgium] in the form of “three pieces in the form of a pear”). Such working titles can also conceal the world view implied in a reference to music-history. The title can in this way be considered to be a postmodernist addition. His Negen onvoltooide symfonieën thus refer to the “Unfinished” element present in all Romantic composers. The symphonies by Buckinx are considered unfinished. The composer has the following to say about this: “These are not works of music, over and out, no, they are rather suggestions for sound. The performer must fill them in and the listener must interpret them.” He goes on to say that “the “unfinished” refers to an attitude.” It is the attitude of a permanent “unfinishedness” of a composition. In this he goes against the urge to create the “masterpiece” which must be considered finished and perfect.

Buckinx’s style is a “quasi” style. In his Negen onvoltooide symfonieën, nineteenth century music can also be heard. He sometimes quotes literally, sometimes makes use of ideas, concepts and forms. The third symphony of the series is an eroica symphony, consisting only of a very short coda lasting 40 seconds, with nothing preceding it. The ninth symphony is a work for choir and orchestra on texts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights combined with texts by Heine. Besides the use of working titles, “everyday” compositions are highly characteristic of his output. In these compositions, Buckinx accepts the result of the moment. He applies this approach in Curriculum vitae (1984), in which he attempts to avoid any kind of structure or system. In such works, the influence of Cage is evident.

In addition, Buckinx has been influenced by Eastern philosophy and Zen. His curriculum vitae is full of Zen sayings. Eastern philosophy can in fact be applied to all his works. Buckinx’s music is completely immersed in this philosophy of life. The references in his titles are often false scents, alienating elements in relation to the music itself. Buckinx has produced an extensive body of work. His catalogue of works (BBWV: Boudewijn Buckinx Werk Verzeichnis) numbers more than a thousand works.


List of works

Instrumental chamber music: Trio (BBWV 1963.01); De Violence(l) van Hertog Blauwbaard (BBWV 1969.02); Adagio (The famous one of course) (BBWV 1984.15); 1001 Sonates (BBWV 1988.09); Vele Groetjes for piano (BBWV 1990.05); Fles (BBWV 1993.24); Per C (BBWV 1994.10); Sherlock Holmes Etudes (BBWV 1995.08); AB (BBWV 1997.24); Het konijn for ensemble (BBWV 2000.12); Prin viola intelegem viola (2001.07); Non giusto for piano (BBWV 2001.23); Sonatine Académique for piano (BBWV 2001.31); Trifoon for clarinet, violoncello and piano (BBWV 2002.06); Blauwe Galm for piano quartet (BBWV 2002.07); Bucolica I for clarinet and piano (BBWV 2002.16); Bucolica II for clarinet and viola (BBWV 2002.17); Begegnung in Wien for violin and piano (BBWV 2003.02); Far and Near for piano (BBWV 2003.07); Little Spots on the Earth for piano (BBWV 2003.09); Fijnbesnaarde Streken for violin (BBWV 2003.10); Antonio Eduardo in Tervuren for piano (BBWV 2003.11); Ozewiezewoze for tuba and celesta (BBWV 2004.01); The Floating World for piano (BBWV 2004.05); De mooie uren van de dag for organ (BBWV 2004.18)

Chamber music with voice: Curriculum vitae (BBWV 1984.03); Vier erste Gesänge (BBWV 1986.02); Barbara (BBWV 1986.05); Cusanus (BBWV 1996.18); La Sonate de Vinteuil (BBWV 1998.03); Jarchas for mezzo soprano and 2 violoncello’s (BBWV 2000.17)

Orchestra: Poème Zéro (BBWV 1960.33), Ce qu’on entend dans la Salle de Concert (BBWV 1987.09), Negen Onvoltooide Symfonieën (1993); Die Vlinder (BBWV 1995.12); Nietzsche Talk Show for tenor and wind orchestra (BBWV 2000.08); For Victor Lachert (BBWV 2001.03); Mooi Weer (BBWV 2001.22);

4 Operas: Karoena, de Zeemeermin (BBWV 1995.02); Socrates (BBWV 1996.17); Le Valchirie (BBWV 1997.02); Van alle tijden, Van alle streken (met Gerard Ammerlaanen Jacob ter Veldhuis) (BBWV 1997.23); Dhammapada (BBWV 2002.02); Fragmente der Unendlichkeit (BBWV 2005.05)

Choir (and optional orchestra): Nota Bene (BBWV 1998.18); Zen Requiem for tenor, baryton, male choir and chamber orchestra (BBWV 2000.05)

Experimental works: Slöjd (BBWV 1968.09); Sinfonia a quattro velocipedi (BBWV 1974.01)

For a more detailed list of works, please follow this link.



– P. ADRIAENSSENS, B. BUCKINX et a., documenta begicae 2, Archennes, 1985
– F. BROUWERS, Wij denken dat Beethoven muziek is!, in Muziekkrant, okt.1979, p 20-27
– B. BUCKINX, De kleine pomo of de muziekgeschiedenis van het postmodernisme, Peer, 1994 (vert. door Alvaro Guimaraes: O Pequeno Pomo ou a historia da musica do pos-modernismo, Sao Paulo, 1998)
– B. BUCKINX en Y. KNOCKAERT, Muziek uit de voorbije eeuw, Peer, 1999
– B. BUCKINX, Artistieke creativiteit en onderwijs, in Prometheus zoekt Aquarius: Reflecties over creatief muziekonderwijs, uitg. dr. K. VERLIE, Peer, 2000
– B. BUCKINX, De aria van de diepe noot – verzamelde commentaren, Peer, 2001
– J. CHRISTIAENS, Buckinx Boudewijn: Mooi Weer (2001), in Contemporary Music in Flanders III: Flemish Symphonic Music since 1950, uitg. dr. M. DELAERE en J. COMPEERS, Leuven, 2006, p. 25-26
– F. DE HAAS, Het gewone als buitengewoon, in Knack, maart 1993, p.96-97
– M. HUVENNE, Eenvoudig maar niet evident. Over de muziek van Boudewijn Buckinx, in Kunst & Cultuur, januari 1988, p.22
– M. IDDON, The Haus That Karlheinz Built: Composition, Authority, and Control at the 1968 Darmstadt Ferienkurse, in The Musical Quarterly, jg. 87 nr. 1, lente 2004, p. 87-118
– Y. KNOCKAERT, Boudewijn Buckinx, in Nieuwe Muziek in Vlaanderen, Brugge, uitg. dr. M. DELAERE, Y. KNOCKAERT en H. SABBE, 1988, p.137-145
– Y. KNOCKAERT, De quasi stijl van Boudewijn Buckinx, in Kunst & Cultuur, maart 1992, p.22-23
– Y. KNOCKAERT, Beste Boudewijn, in Muziek en Woord, april 2000, p.13
– Y. KNOCKAERT, Symfonische eensgezindheid. De symfonie in het oeuvre van Brewaeys, Buckinx, Swerts en Van Hove, in Contra., jg. 3, nr. 3, 2003, p. 46-49
-Y. KNOCKAERT, Buckinx Boudewijn: Strijkkwartet nr. 4 (1987), in Contemporary Music in Flanders I: Flemish String Quartets since 1950, uitg. dr. M. DELAERE en J. COMPEERS, Leuven, 2004, p. 27-28
– D. LAWALREE, Portrait d’un compositeur: Boudewijn Buckinx, in Art & Culture, februari 1988, p.20
– M. MARTENS, 1001 sonates van Boudewijn Buckinx (diss.), Universiteit Gent, 1989
– F. ROQUET, Art. Buckinx, Boudewijn, in lexicon Vlaamse componisten gebroren na 1800, Roeselare, 2007, p. 91
– Y. SENDEN, De onmogelijke radio-uitzending, in Muziek en Woord, juni 1995, p.5-6
– Y. SENDEN, Ceci n’est pas une apologie, in Muziek en Woord, mei 1998, p.98
– Source Music of the avant garde, #8, California, 1970
– J. VANHOLEN, Sokrates: zeven scenische herinneringen, in Vlaanderen, jg. 46 nr. 2, 1997, p.117-118
– Talrijke artikels in Trefpunt, Artisjok, Muziekkrant, Muzica (Boekarest), Muziek en Woord, De Nieuwe Vlaamse Muziekrevue, Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Muziekwetenschap…



– Kantate, Nota Bene (Noordlimburgs Mannenekoor; Collegium Instrumentale Brugense. o.l.v Herman Baeten), RAADSELKRINGEN, Eufoda 1144, 1990
– In de Buurt Van Neptunus (cello: René Berman, piano: Kees Wieringa), NEW CHAMBER MUSIC FROM FLANDERS BY THE WINNERS OF THE INETRNARIONAL ORPHEUS-PRIJS LIVE!, Cassa Nova REC CNR 950821, 1991
– 1001 Sonates (selectie) (viool: Paul Klinck, piano: Daan Vandewalle) BOUDEWIJN BUCKINX SONATAS, Paul Klinck Productions, PKP 00, 1994
– Fles (Spectra Ensemble o.l.v. Filip Rathé), BELGIAN CONTEMPORARY CHAMBER MUSIC, Vox Temporis CD 92.026, 1995
– Vierarmenkruispunt (pianoduo Kolacny), MUSICA A QUATTRO MANI, Eufoda 1244, 1996
– BOUDEWIJN BUCKINX – KAROENA THE MERMAID (Sumatchova-Tcachenko-Kuznetsov, Spectra Ensemble o.l.v. Filip Rathé), René Gaily en Vox temporis CD 92 028, 1996
– 3 stukken voor peer in de vorm van “3 Stukken in de Vorm van een Peer” (blokfluit: Geert Van Gele), FLEMISH CONTEMPORARY RECORDER MUSIC, René Gailly en Vox Temporis CD 92 031, 1996
– BOUDEWIJN BUCKINX – ETUDES SHERLOCK HOLMES (viool: Paul Klinck), Paul Klinck Productions, PKP 009, 1997
– Onvoltooide Symfonie nr. 4 (Koninklijk Filharmonisch Orkest van Vlaanderen o.l.v. Muhai Tang), Radio 3 R3 98007, 1998
– AB, Conversaties (Arco Baleno),  CONVERSATIONS, Paul Klinck Productions, PKP 041, 1998
– Trio nr.1 (Elena Denisova, Josef Podhoransky, Alexei Kornienko), SOLISTEN IM TRIO, Extraplatte EX-408-2, 1999
– Sonet (Goeyvaerts Strijkttrio), MINIATUREN VOOR ARCHIPEL, CC Sint-Niklaas, 2000
– Zen Requiem (Robert Luts, Erik Frithjof, Arc Sonore, De Minnezangers, Prussian Chamber Orchestra o.l.v. Hans Rotman), AS THE WORLD TURNS, November Music NM 004, 2000
– Piano Trio 1, Piano Trio 3 (Rakhmaninov Trio), Piano Trio 2, Piano Trio 4 (Coriolanus Trio), Short Lived (Daan Vandewalle), De Rode Pomp RP/GMA 013, 2001
– Estudes, Quantas Noites (José Eduardo Martins), NEW BELGIAN ETUDES, De Rode Pomp RP/GMA 044, 2002
– Vele Groetjes (piano: Antonio Eduardo), MCK 199.014.542, 2002
– Fünf Gedichte von Ingeborg Bachmann (Françoise Vanhecke, Vyacheslav Poprugin), THE VOICE OF SILENCE,  Berinsky Club 2002, 2002
– Het konijn (Arco Baleno o.l.v. Peter Verhoyen), CARNAVAL DES ANIMAUX, Et’cetera KTC 1266, 2003
– Bucolica II (klarinet: Don Ross, altviool: Aaron Au), THE WEATHER INSIDE,  ECCD Eclectra, 2071, 2005
– The Floating World (Thomas Schultz), Wooden Fish Recordings, 2006
– Short Lived (4th part) (Thérèse Malengrau), BELGIUM. MUSICAL VISIONS, Miroirs LEM 002, 2006
– ERWACHEN DER LIEBE – MUSIK VON BOUDEWIJN BUCKINX UND GEDICHTE VAN PHILIPP SCHOBER (Elena Denisova, Gabriela Sima, Alexei Kornienko, Collegium Musicum Carinthia, Kammerorchester Assam Media Verlag), Asam Media Verlag, 2010
– Sin perder un minuto (Spectra Ensemble), FINGERPRINTS – SIGNATUREN VAN COMPONEREND VLAANDEREN, Muziekcentrum Vlaanderen FMC 2010/02, 2011
– BOUDEWIJN BUCKINX – NINE UNFINISHED SYMPHONIES,  Nine Unfinished Symphonies (Koninklijk Filharmonisch Orkest van Vlaanderen o.l.v. Muhai Tang), Maria de Alvaer World Edition 0018, 2012
– Adagio (The famous one, of course) (Mireile Gleizes, piano), AVK 001
– Symposion (Convivium Musicum o.l.v. Jo Van Eetvelde, viool: Paul Klinck), Azymuth 11042
– De Controversiële Avonturen van Boduognat (piano: Sergio Mascara), Scatola Sonora SSCD 003
-Voor het Vertrek (Op Vakantie) (fluit: Jan Raes, piano: Koen Kessels), Phaedra 92009
– Kla 4 (Joost en Goedele Van Kerkhoven – Marjolein Cossijns en Pieter Mannaerts: vierhandig piano), BRT 9503
– Kahk deelah! (viool: Elena Denisova), Talking Music TALKM 1005
– Pièce frite à droite et à gauche, hommage aan Erik Satie, Steven Kolacny, Stijn Kolancny (pianoduo Steven en Stijn Kolancny), LA MAGIE DE SATIE, Universal, Arti -Choc 465272-2
– 1001 Sonates (viool: Eric Melon, piano: Anja Van Dijck), René Gailly CD 87905
– Kwannon (fluit: Tineke Van Damme, Convivium Musicum o.l.v. Jo Van Eetvelde), MADE IN FLANDERS IV, CMP 1003



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Publications by Boudewijn Buckinx in the KU Leuven catalogue
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Texts by Stijn De Beenhouwer and Klaas Coulembier
Last update: 2018