Geert Logghe was born in 1962. He studied from 1980 to 1990 at the Royal Music Conservatories of Brussels and Ghent. Besides studies in harmony, counterpoint, fugue, chamber music and music history, he studied piano with Claude Coppens, composition with Roland Corijn and experimental and electronic music with Godfried-Willem Raes and Jan Rispens. Logghe’s studies with Coppens not only had an impact on his pianistic qualities, but also on the development of his musical identity as a composer. From 1987 to 1992 he was an assistant teacher of harmony and counterpoint (1987-1990) and assistant in avant-garde chamber music (1989-1992) at the Ghent conservatory. At present he teaches piano and accompaniment at the music academy of Gentbrugge. Besides his activities as a composer and teacher, Logghe is also a dedicated pianist, applying his abilities both as a soloist and as a chamber musician in the service of twentieth-century music. In 2000, together with the recorder player Tomma Wessel, he formed the duo Meander, specialising in twentieth-century music and music theatre. Besides works by Mauricio Kagel, the duo focuses on premieres of works by (Flemish) composers such as Lucien Goethals, Lothar Lämmer, Boudewijn Buckinx, Frank Nuyts, Jan Rispens and Claude Coppens. Logghe’s breakthrough as a composer came with a commission for Antwerp ‘93 (European Cultural Capital), for which he wrote the work Time before and time after. The work was premiered by the ensemble Champ d’Action, conducted by Michael Finnissy and was greeted enthusiastically by the public. Subsequent commissions have included works for the Vooruit Art Centre in Ghent (Togaku and Temple Tunes) and Opera Mobile. In 1999, Logghe was named “junior fellow” of the KBC Chair for New Music in the musicology department of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
His studies with Roland Coryn provided Geert Logghe with a secure basis as a composer, with solid structure, careful development and an avoidance of superfluity as central principles. Logghe’s teacher and friend Claude Coppens, himself also a pianist/composer, continues to fascinate him with his obsession for revealing his knowledge throughout his extensively notated scores and the playful quality of his compositional practice which complements this knowledge. Geert Logghe has consciously kept his opus list limited. For him, a composition demands a long ripening period which allows for no routine work or copious writing and in which the actual notes appear only in the final stage. By reading and writing essays, he explores thoughts which can later serve as abstract subjects for the composition. One of the thoughts which recurs in Logghe’s oeuvre is that of the (im)possibility of communication. Logghe is intrigued by the aspect of time and the form that flows from it. A few typical characteristics of his music are: the use of a temporal module, the combination of different modules as a structural principle, the multidimensional passage of time, the use of mathematically organised proportions and the departure from established rules. The composer continually seeks an interaction between tension and relaxation, effected without the harmonic functions of tonality. Logghe readily makes use of the computer for composing, not in order to save time and work, but to perform such tasks as exploring the possibilities of a variable ostinato by generating the variants which can be visually and auditively achieved in all possible guises (as melody, harmony, and in complex combined forms).
Poets such as Dylan Thomas and T.S. Eliot are sources of inspiration for Geert Logghe, the first because of his musical-poetical language, and the second with his philosophical musings on time and music. In his first two works, Logghe went in search of the possibilities of linguistic constructions. Syllables (1987), a ten voice choral work on a text by Jan Hanlo, and Conversations for wind quintet (1988), in which the players are also asked to speak and to sing, are the result of a purification of musical language. In Syllables, starting from sober harmonic material (a fourth-fifth triad, f — b-flat — c), the composer explores the other pitches and registers, and in Conversations, he allows the listener to experience the various timbres of the ensemble as if through a prism. With The Idea of North (1989-98), Logghe took on a new favourite theme: the silence of the ice- and snow-covered north. This expresses itself in the use of limited harmonic and melodic material. The solitude of the seemingly endless Scandinavian landscape is represented in Die Stille im Lande for two recorders and tape (1989), and Oben for chamber orchestra, four spoken voices and tape (1990-91). In the first work, the constant shifting on the level of metre and pitch is explored. In the non-metrical outer movements, the recorders have a central role while the tape, consisting of electronic recorder sounds, remains in the background. The more traditional metrical middle movement puts the spotlight on the tape. The classic synchronisation problem between the live recorders and the recorded tape is not dealt with or thematized by Logghe. The tape used for Oben does not pose these problems, since it consists of concrete material: footsteps in the snow. The text consists of interviews conducted by Geert Logghe with Germans of Scandinavian origin. They talk, each in their own way, about life in Scandinavia (“Oben”, literally “up there”). Communication between the four speakers is not possible. They are not only placed in the four corners of the room, but the monologues are also layered one on the other, hindering comprehensibility. In the outer movements, the four speakers are combined with two instrumental groups and in the middle movement four instrumental groups are combined with two speakers. Forma Formans (1989), form in the process of becoming, has an unspecified scoring for four parts. Logghe bases the proportional relations of pitch and note-length as well as that of total structure on the proportion of the golden section. The intervals of the mode follow the Fibonacci series, a number sequence whereby two succeeding numbers relate to one another according to the golden section, symmetrically starting from the note f-sharp. For the segmentation of the parts, Logghe adapts the principle of the Fibonacci series somewhat and proceeds according to a personal logic. Time before and time after (1992-93) for chamber orchestra draws on the thought of T.S. Eliot, and in particular on the fifth section of the poet’s Four Quartets (1943). In this music, Logghe attempts to find a parallel for this fragment in which Eliot holds that the meaning of music lies in its sound. The three dimensions of time determine the composition in all its aspects through the structuring function of the number three: three sections, three basic ideas, three modes; the tempo and the number of bars are also generated by the number three. Logghe juxtaposes expressive rhetorical elements that interrupt the processes, with the overarching organisation of absolute music. Danse minable (1993) was commissioned by the salon orchestra Pomme d’Amour. Logghe offers a parody on salon music, in the form of an absurd dance. Togaku (1993/1994) was intended as a work bridging cultures, according to those who commissioned the work. Logghe attempts to obviate the potentially superficial and exterior references to Japanese Gagaku music by also making structural references to this music.
Geert Logghe explores the possibilities of creating tension and release in Temple Tunes for two pianos and percussion (1995-96). Rhythmic ostinatos are combined with processes of acceleration and deceleration in which the percussion and the pianos evolve separately over time.This fascination for variable ostinatos is developed further in Cinq Ordres (1996-97) for recorder quartet and percussion. This work is also literally the sequel to Temple Tunes, since the percussion ostinato of the first movement of Cinq Ordres is derived from the last movement of Temple Tunes. Each movement is a different ordering of a new variable ostinato. In the middle movement, Kalfamer, the only slow movement in Cinq Ordres, the theme of the north returns. Seen in terms of Logghe’s fascination for transformations, the treatment of the theme of metamorphosis is not a surprising step. The unfinished chamber opera, Die Verwandlung (1998-99) is based on the novella Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. It is Logghe’s first large-scale work.
List of works
Symphonic orchestra: Luna Piena (1999-2000)
Small orchestra: Danse minable (1993)
Ensemble: Time before and time after (1992-93), Togaku (1993-94); Redemption: a sweet lament (2001)
Opera: Die Verwandlung (1998-99) (unfinished)
Vocal-instrumental: Oben (1990-91)
Choir: Syllables (1987)
Chamber music: Conversations (1988); Forma Formans (1989); Temple Tunes (1995-96); Cinq Ordres (1996-97)
Piano: The Idea of North (1988-98)
Instrument(s) plus tape: Die Stille im Lande (1989)
– M. DELAERE, De dimensies van de tijd: Geert Logghe, in Nieuwe Muziek in Vlaanderen, uitg. dr. M. DELAERE, Y. KNOCKAERT en H. SABBE, Brugge, 1998, p. 160-165
– Y. KNOCKAERT, Voetstappen in onafzienbare sneeuwvlakten (Vlaamse componisten (11): Geert Logghe), in Kunst & Cultuur, 3, 1993, p. 20-21
– Y. KNOCKAERT, Postmodernisme in de nieuwe muziek in Vlaanderen, in Vlaanderen, 258, 1995, p. 360-365
– Y. KNOCKAERT, Handgespannen sonate. De creatie van Temple Tunes van Geert Logghe, in Kunst & Cultuur, 3, 1996
– Y. KNOCKAERT, Geert Logghe – Gedaanteverwisselingen, in Vlaanderen, 272, 1998,
– J. VANHOLEN, Werkenlijst (met discografie) van Geert Logghe, in Vlaanderen, 272, 1998, p. 209
– Time before and time after (Champ d’Action), Megadisc MDC 7869
– Togaku (Spectra Ensemble), René Gailly CD 92.026
Texts by Tim Mariën, Michael Swolfs and Klaas Coulembier
Last update: 2005