The world loves top musical talent Wim Mertens
Wim Mertens owes his now nearly 40-year, mainly foreign, phenomenal career as a composer, pianist, guitarist, musicologist and countertenor to his father's love of music.
In 1953, Wim Mertens was born in Neerpelt, Limburg, to a family whose father, when he was not busy with his cereal business, was either singing in church or playing one of his ten instruments at home. On the other hand, his mother had not figured it out at all on a single instrument. So, Wim was clearly taking after his father in this regard. Music school in Houthalen, music academy in Genk, the Royal Conservatory in Brussels and then in Ghent. Oh yes, in between he also studied Political and Social Sciences at the KU Leuven.
Europe, North and Central America, Japan, Thailand, Russia ... the world has come to know Wim Mertens from the untold number of piano and guitar concerts which he has already given over the years. The compositions of one of the best-known musical exports from Flanders range from short, accessible songs to grand complex pieces for solo piano concerts, chamber music and symphony orchestras alike. He also often writes for unusual instrumentations: twelve piccolos, ten bass trombones, thirteen clarinets.
But of his 70 or so albums and 900 or so compositions, probably best known domestically are his melodies which were once used for films, television, radio, theatre and advertising. Potential quiz questions? Here we go: which tune by Wim Mertens was for 15 years the jingle of Belgacom, the forerunner of the telecommunications company, Proximus? Answer: Struggle for pleasure. It was remixed by two German DJs into the huge house hit Café del Mar, even Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike remixed it and it was also picked up for Peter Greenaway's film The belly of an architect. Or what announced the night radio at VRT for years? Close cover. When did you know it was time for the Radio 1 programme, De Melkweg? When you heard Often a bird. And this one you should unlearn: What was the tune for The News on BRTN in 1996-1997? Hors-nature.
Wim Mertens's most recent album is Voice of the living, in which he pays tribute to all war victims. He performed the world premiere of the production with his full ensemble on 28 October 2014 at St. Martin's Cathedral in Ypres, as part of the commemorative events for 100 years of World War I. The album was commissioned by the Chancellery of the Prime Minister.
Musical gems for a wide and diverse audience, foreign and domestic in other words.