17 Autograph musical manuscripts

Thanks to being alerted by the Friends of Philippe Boesmans, and with the support of the Léon Courtin-Marcelle Bouché Fund, the King Baudouin Foundation has acquired a lot of 17 autograph manuscripts created by the internationally-recognised Belgian composer Philippe Boesmans (1936 - 2022). Under threat of being sold individually, they will all now be kept at the Belgian Royal Library.

Preserved in their entirety

The Foundation acquired these 17 manuscripts at an Autograph Letters & Manuscripts auction held by Ader in Paris, on 12 October 2021. The manuscripts have been entrusted to the Music Department of the Royal Belgian Library, where they will be kept in optimal conditions, as well as being made accessible to researchers. Without this intervention and the mobilization of several actors in the field of music, including Marie Cornaz, Bernard Foccroule and Manuel Couvreur, the manuscripts would have been sold individually.

An important source

Marie Cornaz, Curator of Musical Collections at the Royal Belgian Library, and Olivia Wahnon de Oliveira, Director of the Royal Brussels Conservatory, emphasise that “This is a first because, prior to this, no other Belgian libraries or institutions had conserved any autograph manuscripts of the composer.

Marie Cornaz comments, “The acquisition of these 17 compositions, put up for auction by Ader and which all emanate from Parisian publisher Jobert’s collections of musical manuscripts, not only prevents the dispersal of sources that are integral to Belgian musical heritage, but will also be crucial in developing unique and innovative musical and musicological expertise on Boesmans that can be based on his manuscripts, which were hitherto absent in Belgian institutions.”

An internationally renowned Belgian composer

Philippe Boesmans was born in Tongeren in 1936. He developed a very personal musical language and was rapidly recognised as one of the most talented contemporary composers. He won several prizes in Belgium and abroad, including the Prix Italia in 1971, for his composition Upon la mi, one of the manuscripts acquired by the King Baudouin Foundation.

Among the other manuscripts acquired is that of the first opera written by Philippe Boesmans, La Passion de Gilles, premiered at the Monnaie Opera in Brussels in 1983, and L'incoronazione di Poppea, a re-orchestration of Monteverdi’s opera that was commissioned by Gerard Mortier, Director of the Monnaie.

Boesmans’ orchestral and instrumental music is also well-known. His Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, written as a tribute to the Belgian school of violinists of Henri Vieuxtemps and Eugène Ysaÿe, was awarded the Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros. In 2000, Boesmans was awarded the Prix Honegger for the body of his work and in 2004, the SACD Prix de la Musique. He died in Brussels in 2022.

musical partition
Material / technique: 
Ink on paper
Type of acquisition: 
Acquired by the Léon Courtin-Marcelle Bouché Fund
Year of acquisition: