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Paul Van Nevel

Paul Van Nevel is the artistic director of the Huelgas Ensemble, which he founded in 1971 as an extension of his activities at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. He is known as a pioneer and figurehead for European polyphony from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. Paul Van Nevel stands for an interdisciplinary approach to the original sources, taking into account the spirit of the times (literature, old pronunciation, temperament, tempo, rhetoric...). He goes in search of unknown works, including the forgotten treasures of Flemish polyphony.

Paul Van Nevel uses his knowledge of the European music libraries to repeatedly perform unknown works with his ensemble. His programmes surprise with original perspectives and a phenomenal knowledge of polyphonic repertoire of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

He was a guest teacher at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, the Musikhochschule Hannover, the Centre de Musique ancienne de Genève and has been a guest conductor of the Nederlands Kamerkoor for thirty years.

Amongst other things, he has written a monograph on Johannes Ciconia, a work about Nicolas Gombert, and has published transcripts of Renaissance music with the German publishing company Bärenreiter.  

Paul Van Nevel has also written a book about the city of Lisbon. In this book he describes his thirty-year relationship with the city, based on atmospheric impressions, personal preferences, explicit details and chance encounters. 

In 2018 Paul Van Nevel's book, ‘The Landscape of the Polyphonists: the world of the Franco-Flemish School 1400-1600’, in which he puts forward the hypothesis that the imitative and melancholic style of these composers was created by the nature of the landscape (silence, refuge, melancholy) in which the Franco-Flemish School spent their childhood.  The book was awarded the 'Luc Verbekeprijs' in 2019 by the Committee for French Flanders.

Paul Van Nevel has received numerous awards, including the 'Prix in Honorem' from the Académie Charles Cros (1994), the 'Choc de l'année' (Le monde de la Musique), the 'Edison prize', the 'Cannes Classical Award', various 'Caecilia 'prizes' from the Belgian Music Press, the 'Career Prize’ from the Belgian classical radio station Klara, the 'Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik' and various prizes from the German music awards 'ECHO Klassik '.

His recordings of the ‘Eton Choirbook’ (Sony Classical, 2012) and ‘La Oreja de Zurbarán’ (Cypres records, 2014) received the praise of the foreign press. For his recording 'Les Trésors de Claude Le Jeune' (Sony Classical, 2014) he received the 'Diapason d'Or de l'année 2014' and for 'Wolfgang Rihm: Et lux' (ECM, 2015) the 'Diapason d' Or de l'année 2015 '. His most recent award is a ‘Choc du mois’ from the magazine Classica in February 2017 and a ‘Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik’ (Bestenliste 1/2017) for the CD recording ‘The Mirror of Monteverdi’, and the OPUS KLASSIK '18th century opera prize 2019' for the CD recording of Francesca Caccini: 'La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina'.

Paul Van Nevel is an internationally renowned "Cigarier".


Het landschap van de polyfonisten - de wereld van de Franco-Flamands (1400-1600)

Photography: Luk Van Eeckhout
Number of pages: 288
EAN: 9789401453998
Publisher: Lannoo

Why did the polyphonists all come from the same region of southwest Belgium and northern France? And and what was the influence of this region on their music?
A unique analysis of the environment - the ‘cultural landscape’ - of the 15th and 16th century musician.
The book includes a CD and no fewer than 168 beautiful photographs.

Nicolas Gombert et l’aventure de la polyphonie franco-flamande

ISBN 90-73737-01-X - 1992. Published by Libri Musicae | available in Dutch and in French.


This book was conceived as a guide for the interested listener and lover of polyphony. It describes the exciting period between the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 17th centuries, during which Flanders (as it then was) dominated Europe musically. Issues discussed include: where the polyphonists received their education, what did their task as member, singer or composer at a noble or royal court entail, how did they compose their works, what was the social context of their time... The book is accompanied by a CD with four works by Gombert, Binchois and Crecquillon.
The Dutch edition dates from 1992. In 2004 the text was completely revised and published in French under the title "Nicolas Gombert et l'aventure de la polyphonie franco-flamande".

Polyfonie en Ars SubtiliorCiconia (ca. 1370-1411)

28 pages in length, with illustrations.
Published by De Monte Leuven (1974) | only available in Dutch.

publikatie Ars subtilior.jpg

This booklet is an introduction to the art of Ars Subtilior, the music that originated mainly in the south of France in the period from about 1360 to about 1415. It includes a short description of the style, the notation, the sources and the aesthetics.

Dertig jaar verslaafd aan Lissabon

ISBN 9789064454288 · 2006 · paperback 17 x 21 cm – 264p. - illustrated. Published by Epo | only available in Dutch.


Paul Van Nevel has two muses: music and poetry. In 1973 the poet Slauerhoff, with a blurry overseas voice, enticed him to Lisbon by means of poems describing aimless rambling through that city’s districts and singing the praises of Fado. Lisbon was never to let go of the young man.
'The city was inexhaustibly generous with its popular, often un-European traditions, its literary emotions, its architectonic disarray, and, above all, with its masterly treatment of time, a life without hours, a total disregard for the European sense of time.'
Whenever his professional commitments and his bank balance permitted it, Paul Van Nevel would set off for a few days and nights in Lisbon. And that was practically once a month. In this book he describes his thirty-year relationship with the city by means of atmospheric impressions, personal preferences, explicit details and chance encounters. It becomes a love letter to the city. An addiction undergoes a gradual metamorphosis and turns into a love affair. This account does have certain things in common with a city guide. But then one omitting the obvious tourist points of interest which every travel guide is so keen on.

Johannes Ciconia (ca. 1370-1411)


D/1981/2613/1 - - 1981 - 144 pages - illustrated. Published by NV Jura, Berchem
French translation: D/1982/2613/6 - 1982. Published by De Notenboom

In this book Van Nevel approaches Johannes Ciconia from the point of view of his music, with the intention of providing musicians with the basis for a responsible interpretation of his oeuvre. The book also formed the basis of the recording of the complete works of Ciconia, firstly on LP (for Musique en Wallonie) and later (in 1997) re-issued on CD by Pavane.



For Bärenreiter (Kassel, Basel, London, New York) Paul Van Nevel edited a number of instrumental works from the Renaissance in the series "Frutti Musicali". As the basis for this he took original source material and wrote out the scores in contemporary notation, thereby providing an important stimulus to the authentic performance of this music, by both professional musicians and advanced amateurs.

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