Willem Breuker

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Willem Breuker with the Wessel-Ilcken Prize (1970)

Willem Breuker (* 4. November 1944 in Amsterdam , North Holland , † 23. July 2010 ) was a Dutch jazz - clarinetist - saxophonist - composer and - bandleader . Along with Misha Mengelberg and Willem van Manen, he was considered one of the most influential Dutch musicians in the field of improvised music and free jazz .

Live and act

Breuker began as an autodidact on the recorder; then he learned to play the clarinet and later the saxophone . In 1965 he founded his group Free Jazz Inc. and celebrated his first successes at the Loosdrechts Jazz Concours in 1966. Together with Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg, he founded the Instant Composers Pool label in the same year in order to publish his own records. He was also part of the first line-up of the Globe Unity Orchestra . His Willem Breuker Kollektief , a ten-piece jazz band founded in the early 1970s , is the best-known European jazz show band. Most of the band's concerts are interspersed with new musical clowns.

In the tradition of Kurt Weill , Breuker has always seen himself as an “engaging” musician: He began in the 1960s with actionist-oriented and socially committed music performances ; he gained - above all as a composer of drama music and as a musician in theater productions - considerable flexibility in dealing with the scenic and musical means and possibilities. Although in the tradition of the new European improvised music standing, he vacillates in his plays between operatic aria and pop, tango and marching, orchestral suite and Dreigroschenmusik . Material from his favorite composers Duke Ellington , Ennio Morricone , George Gershwin and, again and again, Kurt Weill flow into his pieces, which, in clever arrangements, leave enough space for substantial musical improvisation, but also for joke and slapstick.

His own path as a composer was first made clear in 1966 in Litanie , then in 1967 in the music for three barrel organs and in a Mozart piece written together with Mengelberg in 1968. The breakthrough to a real musical theatrical innovation came in 1972 with the commissioned work Kain en Abel , which he wrote with Lodewijk de Boer for the Holland Festival . His piece Anthologie (1975) consciously turns against the ideology of the avant-garde .

In the course of his career Breuker has worked with numerous internationally renowned musicians such as Gunter Hampel , Jeanne Lee , Anthony Braxton , Peter Brötzmann ( Machine Gun 1968), Han Bennink , Hannes Zerbe , Michel Waisvisz , Gisela May , Jan Menu , Soesja Citroen and Alexander von Schlippenbach performed and made numerous records .

Willem Breuker founded the musician's own label BVhaast (German: "Eile GmbH"), on which he not only published his own music, but also music by other, mainly Dutch musicians.

On July 23, 2010, Breuker fell asleep peacefully on his sick bed. He leaves behind his partner Olga Zuiderhoek.

Filmography (selection)

  • 1972: Woyzeck
  • 1977: Blindgangers (Blindgangers)
  • 1978: The flat jungle (De platte jungle)
  • 1979: Love without scruples (Twee frouwen)
  • 1983: The Illusionist (De Illusionist)
  • 1984: In the middle of Germany
  • 1986: I love dollars
  • 1985: The ice cream parlor (De ijssalon)


In 1970 he received the Wessel Ilcken Prijs and in 1993 the Boy Edgar Prize (Jazz Prize of the Netherlands). His suite De Achtelijke Klokkemaker (“The Crazy Watchmaker”), which performed his collection , was awarded the 1974 Vermeulen Prize by the City of Amsterdam. Between 1986 and 1989, Breuker dominated the down beat critic polls as a notable talent as an arranger, composer and in the big band category. At the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1988 he received the Bird Award . In 2005 he was awarded a certificate of honor by the jury of the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik .

Willem Breuker accompanies the musical lecture by Minister Ronald Plasterk (2009) with a fire extinguisher


  • Jean & Françoise Buzelin: Willem Breuker. Édition du Limon, Paris 1992, 262 pp., Ill., Sheet music examples, series: mood indigo, ISBN 2-907224-24-7 , online excerpt
    translation: Willem Breuker. Maker van mensenmuziek. Centrum Nederlandse Muziek, Hilversum 1994, ISBN 90-6011-906-1 .
  • Martin Kunzler : Jazz Lexicon. Volume 1: A – L (= rororo-Sachbuch. Vol. 16512). 2nd Edition. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-499-16512-0 .

Web links

Commons : Willem Breuker  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. "Jazz-muzikant Willem Breuker (65) overleden" , Elsevier, July 23, 2010