Rudi Tas was born in Aalst in 1957. He earned a number of diplomas at the Royal Conservatories in Brussels and Ghent in both instrumental and theoretical subjects. His studies were rounded off with a final diploma in composition (magna cum laude) under Roland Coryn. To begin with, Rudi Tas was mainly active as a concert organist and a choral conductor but he subsequently concentrated on a career as a composer. At present, Rudi Tas combines his many composition commissions with his duties as a teacher of theory and organ in the music education system.
Various works by Rudi Tas have won prizes in both national and international composition competitions. In 1979, he was a prize-winner at the Nausikaä Composition Competition for vocal music, in 1988 he won the chamber-music prize of the Flemish Mediatheque, in 1989 the Flor Baron Peeters Prize for organ composition, in 1992 the Provincial Prize of East Flanders and in 1993 the B.A.P. prize awarded by Sabam (Belgian artists’ rights organisation). In 1992 his Symphonia da Requiem for soprano solo, speaker, solo choir, mixed choir and orchestra was nominated for the European AGEC prize, and in 1996 a Swiss jury awarded him this prestigious prize for his choral work Flowers of life. In May of 1998 he took first prize at the international composition competition in Tours for his La chanson d’Eve. Finally, his Sonata for violin and piano won the Jef Van Hoof Prize in 2001.
Vlinderingen, 5 songs for female chorus (1988), and Diaspora for 3 clarinets and 1 bass clarinet (1991) are best situated in Rudi Tas’s short experimental period. Both works are written in a “seconds language” in which all vertical intervals are derived from major and minor seconds and their inversions. In Diaspora, this harmonic language is combined with spatial sound impressions. For the performance of the work, the four instrumentalists are positioned in the four corners of the concert space in order to create a quadrophonic effect. In both works, Rudi Tas experiments with an avant-garde style, an approach that he would gradually abandon.
With Cool intonation for solo piano (1992), Rudi Tas incorporated jazz elements into his instrumental music for the first time. This might be seen as Postmodern, but Tas has never lost his feeling for more traditional compositional techniques, which makes it difficult to categorise him as an “avant-garde” composer. Rudi Tas remains open to both modern compositional techniques and to more traditional techniques or stylistic idioms such as tonality, Neo-Romanticism or Neo-Impressionism. Traditional and contemporary elements are reconciled to one another in a seemingly natural way, resulting in a personal musical idiom with a convincing eloquence, in which the cantabile quality is always given pride of place. Within this polystylistic compositional approach, the eclectic element also continues to play a crucial role. Tenebrae, for mezzo, speaker, mixed choir, string trio and percussion (1995), makes use of recent techniques and styles such as speaking chorus, atonality, polytonality, modern modality and jazz, without denying traditional elements. In the Magnificat, for soprano solo, 3 choir soloists and mixed choir (1998), old folksongs, Gregorian motifs and canon techniques flow together into a new tonality. In the Miserere for cello and mixed choir (1999), a great diversity of playing techniques in the very virtuoso cello part is combined with a more introverted choral part. In the String Quartet in memoriam Pau Casals (2002), the composer makes reference to the 18th-century music style by incorporating quotations from works by Bach.
Vic Nees nicely typifies the position of composer Rudi Tas in the Flemish musical world as follows: “The road that Rudi Tas has taken in his career as a composer is based both on respect for tradition and on a knowledge of the more recent compositional techniques… Depending on the demands of the commission, he sometimes treads more familiar paths and is sometimes more progressive. In his most significant works, he integrates these two extremes into a unity. This is only possible thanks to his very thorough craftsmanship and an impressive control of style.” The main components of his work are thus respect for tradition, knowledge of styles, pragmatism, economy of means, eclecticism, knowledge of the metier of composing, searching for balance and control of emotion and form.
List of works
Chamber music: Diaspora for 3 clarinets and 1 bass clarinet (1991); Cool intonation for solo piano (1992); Sonata for violin and piano (2000); String Quartet in memoriam Pau Casals (2002)
Vocal music: Vlinderingen, 5 songs for women’s choir (1988); 4 motets for mixed choir (1995); Tenebrae, for mezzo, speaker, mixed choir, string trio and percussion (1996); La chanson d’ève, six songs for mixed choir (1997); Magnificat for solo soprano, 3 choir soloists and mixed choir (1998); Miserere for violoncello and mixed choir (1999); Ballet for voices for baritone, mixed choir, piano and flute (2001); Salve Regina for soprano, violin and mixed choir (2004)
Orchestra: Symphonia da Requiem for soprano, reciter, solo chorus, mixed chorus and orchestra (1989-90); Silent Tears’ Symphony II for soprano and orchestra (2002-03)
– K. THEWISSEN, Rudi Tas in de kijker, in Even Aanzoemen, nr.6, nov.-dec 1996
– K. UVIN, String Quartet, in memoriam Pau Casals, for his 125th birthday, in Muziek en Woord, 351, 2003
– Choral Works (Vocaal Ensemble Musa Horti, P. Dejans), 1999
– Silent Tears, Symphony nr. 2 for soprano and orchestra (Het Symfonieorkest van Vlaanderen, E. Siebens), 2003
– Flowers of Life, six lyrics for mixed choir (The Flemish Radio Choir, V. Nees), IN FLANDERS FIELDS VOL. 6, 1994
– Cool intonation for solo piano (L. Vaes), NEW CHAMBER MUSIC FROM FLANDERS, 1992
– Gavotte for piano four hands (Steven en Stijn Kolacny), 25 JAAR KUNSTHUMANIORA GENT 1972, 1994
– (Ars Vocalis Kortrijk), ARS VOCALIS, 1992
ERT (Editions Rudi Tas)
Texts by Delphine Mandart
Last update: 2005