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Fred Van Hove
Information Discography
Instrument(s) Piano, Organ, Composer
Date of birth 1937
Place of birth Antwerp
Date of death January 14, 2022
© Jos L. Knaepen
Texte également disponible en français 
De tekst is ook beschikbaar in het Nederlands 
winner SABAM Jazz Award 2010 (established musician)

Fred VAN HOVE studied piano, theory and harmony at the Music Academy in Belgium and experimented with several jazz styles and dance music before making the transition to free improvisation with local musicians (Zinzen, Van De Ven and Wanders). He has been a professional free-lance musician since 1964.

1966 saw the beginning of Van Hove's collaboration with Peter Brötzmann, initially in quartet or larger groupings (eg Machine Gun), then stabilising in a trio format (with Han Bennink for five to six years; in 1995 contact with Brötzmann was renewed when the two played a duo as part of the 'Pool' at the Free Music XXII in Antwerp in August. His first solo concerts were played at the Avant-garde festival Gravensteen, Ghent, in 1970 and Jazz Middleheim, in Antwerp in 1971. In 1972, working as a duo with Belgian sax player Cel Overberghe, he refused to play at the Middelheim festival as a result of a dispute over the grossly differential fees being paid to visiting American musicians on the one hand and European musicians on the other. This dispute led to the foundation of the musicians collective WIM vzw, Werkgroep Improviserende Musici, whose aim was to improve the situation of free music in Belgium. Fred Van Hove has been Chairman of WIM since then.

From 1976, and in collaboration with, for example, De Andere Film Antwerp & Ghent, Dommelhof Neerpeilt (Belgium), and Filmhaus Berlin, he has provided solo accompaniment to silent movies, particularly experimental films of the 1920s (Griffiths, Porter, Murnau, Lang, Dreyer, among others) as well as comedies and animations. He has also performed regularly with duo partners who have included: Steve Lacy; Vinko Globokar; Lol Coxhill; Albert Mangelsdorff; Annick Nozati; Phil Wachsmann; André Goudbeek; Paul Van Gyseghem.

From the end of the 1970s, Van Hove formed a number of groups utilising the initials MLA (Musica Libera Antverpiae) and MLB (Musica Libera Belgicae) or similar. The first MLA, formed in 1978, was a group of variable composition from a nucleus of seven musicians: three strings; three brass; piano. This undertook several tours and festivals (e.g. at Jazz Middelheim, and London). In 1979, MLA Blek comprised Marc Charig on trumpet and Paul Rutherford on trombones and toured Italy. Formed in 1980, though recorded in 1982, the ML DD 4 consisted of Marc Charig, Phil Wachsmann and Günther 'Baby' Sommer on percussion and toured through several ex-DDR European countries. In 1983, Fred Van Hove was invited to Berlin by the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) as artist in residence for six months, April to October. During this time he took the opportunity to play concerts with MLA, MLA Blek and ML DD 4, but also to play extensively with local musicians in a series of MLBB: Berliner Begegnungen or Berlin Encounters.

In the mid-80s, Fred Van Hove undertook several tours of Japan playing solo and duos with a wide variety of musicians including percussionist Sabu Toyozumi, bass player Tetsu Saitoh; and US and European musicians such as: Ned Rothenberg; Douglas Ewart; Peter Kowald; Hans Reichel; Evan Parker; and Barry Guy. A three-day Van Hove festival was held at the concert hall Space Who, Saitama, celebrating its 5th anniversary.

The Belgisch Pianokwartet was formed in 1984, four pianists at 2 grands, originally consisting of Walter Hus, Christian Leroy and Eddy Loozen, but more recently with Marilyn Crispell replacing Hus and the group name becoming 't Pianokwartet. The MLB III trio with André Goudbeek, saxophone, and Ivo Vander Borght, percussion was formed around the same time, recorded in 1988 and toured the former DDR (with trumpeter Andy Altenfeldert), Spain and the Netherlands. Since 1988 the trio with the French singer Annick Nozati and the German trombonist Johannes Bauer has recorded and toured and, from 1991, 't Nonet has performed, comprising: Marc Charig or Axel Dörner, trumpet; Annick Nozati, voice; Paul Rutherford and Johannes Bauer, trombones; Benoit Viredaz, tuba, Evan Parker or John Butcher and André Goudbeek, saxophones; and Ivo Vander Borght, percussion. Cooperation with other musicians has included Luc Houtkamp, Connie Bauer and Wolfgang Fuchs.
Since 1994 duo with Ivo Vander Borght.

Fred Van Hove has cooperated with poets and painters (the action painter W.J.C. Free) and held seminars and workshops on improvisation in Antwerp, Tilburg, Ghent, Amsterdam, in England and Germany and, since 1990, at Département d'Etudes Musicales, University Lille 3, France. In June 1996 the Belgium government conferred on Fred Van Hove the title of Cultural Ambassador of Flanders 1996, an award that also includes a grant for touring outside of Belgium.

He has composed widely, for several WIM projects as well as for film and theatre; his compositions include:

  • Het verhaal van WIM (the story of WIM)
  • Elexur d'Envers, for brass and improvised piano
  • KKWTT, for brass and improvised piano
  • Strike he thought, for strings and improvised saxophone
  • Voorwaar. De Naam, for 18 mixed instruments plus improvised piano
  • NZW: SO4 + STR, for strings plus improvised piano, 2 saxophones and trombone
  • To free or not to free, for vocal quartet Helix plus improvised soloists

SABAM Jazz Award in 2010, as confirmed musician.

(See top of page for main discography)

"Suite for B... City"'t Nonet (FMP, Berlin)
" Passing Waves "(Chicago/nuscope recordings CD 1001, '98)solo piano, recorded in studio
" B/Free/Bifteck "(Saravah SHP 7, '98) church organ duo with Etienne Brunet, saxes+various artists

PISTRI ENSEMBLE piano & strings

    Phillip Wachsmann violin, alto violin, electronics
    Günther Christmann cello, trombone
    Joëlle Léandre double bass
    Fred Van Hove piano, accordion
Other Van Hove combinations :
  • Solo piano or church organ
  • Duo with percussionist Ivo Vander Borght
  • Trio with singer Annick Nozati and trombonist Johannes Bauer
  • 't Pianokwartet with 4 piano players on 2 grand pianos
  • 't Nonet, international 9 - piece band


  • Associated bands:
    Christian Leroy / Fred Van Hove      Pistri Ensemble Piano & Strings
    Fred Van Hove     

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