Jozef van Wissem (b. 1962) is a Dutch minimalist composer and lute player from Maastricht, Netherlands.

Taking an approach to Renaissance and Baroque forms of lute music, his compositions for the instrument have involved a dynamic mix of conceptual, minimalist, classical and improvisational strategies, seamlessly bridging the language of 17th century music with that of the 21st, without compromising the timbre and resonance of traditional lute playing techniques.

Over the last two decades, van Wissem has variously used cut-and-paste tactics, , , and created palindromic compositions by playing pieces forwards and then backwards. The resulting sound world is at once and surprising, new and arcane. Mirror image melodies are formed that step up and then back down seemingly without end, thus eschewing traditional linear progression and climax, instead maintaining a constant level of intensity. This music doesn’t demand concentrated listening, but rather brings the listener into a state of concentrated listening.

His music is uncluttered and direct, with a viscerally hypnotic and emotional impact,delivered with an ascetic intensity reflected both in his Biblical titles and his influences. An incessantly touring musician, van Wissem’s hypnotic live shows have taken him all over the world. He has records out on Important Records and his own Incunabulum label and has collaborated with James Blackshaw, Keiji Haino and Jim Jarmusch amongst others. Van Wissem studied lute in New York with Pat O’Brien and released a classical lute CD A Rose by Any Other Name consisting of anonymous lute pieces. He lectures on The Liberation of the Lute (at Harvard, Wesleyan University, Mills College amongst others) and was commissioned by The National Gallery of London to compose a sound piece to Hans Holbein’s painting The Ambassadors. His work is featured more and more in documentaries and feature films and he recently composed pieces for lute and voice for the new Sims Medieval video game.

Edited by wulverstane on 4 Aug 2012, 01:27

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Founded in
  • Maastricht, Netherlands
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