Daan Manneke was born on November 7, 1939 in Kruiningen (Zeeland). His surname – betraying his roots – is derived from the Flemish mannekijn, from which French and English have taken their word ‘mannequin’. His predominantly Flemish ancestry is interrupted by a lone Spanish soldier who remained in Zeeland during the Eighty Years’ War. From those few drops of Latin blood Manneke inherited a broad and decidedly un-Dutch view of the world that, via the writer Gezelle, carried into the land of Verlaine and Rimbaud. He is a farmer’s son, bound to the earth and the seasons.
Daan Manneke was born on November 7, 1939 in Kruiningen, The Netherlands.
Manneke received his first music lessons from Adriaan Kousemaker, music teacher and publisher in the town of Goes. In 1959, he began his studies at the Brabant Conservatory in Tilburg with Jan van Dijk (composition) and Huub Houët and Louis Toebosch (organ). He later studied with Kamiel D’Hooghe at the conservatory of Brussels, and later studied at the conservatory of Amsterdam, where he also studied choir direction.
His life and compositions took on a definitive form through his friendship with Ton de Leeuw, with whom he studied beginning in 1966 and who proved to be a lifelong source of inspiration for him. For many years, De Leeuw was the sole advocate of (and expert in) non-Western music for The Netherlands. Ton de Leeuw in turn brought Manneke into contact with Olivier Messiaen, with whom he also took a number of lessons.
After many years as an organist, Manneke was appointed professor at the Amsterdam Conservatory in 1972, teaching 20th-century music analysis, and in 1986 he was made professor of composition. Over the years he has tutored a great number of young composers, and founded the department of composition for young talent. He left the conservatory in 2008.
Futhermore, Manneke is the founder and conductor of the chamber choir Cappella Breda (founded in 1976), a choir with which he presents a wide variety of concerts that reflect his own musical style. Programs range from Venetian multichoral works to compositions by Bruckner, Arvo Pärt, and unknown Renaissance composers. In 1992, Cappella Breda released a CD, Concerti Ecclesiastici (1625-1637), with works from Breda’s own Renaissance composers, including Herman Hollanders and Adriaan Willaert, among others.
In 1977, he published a workbook for contemporary improvisation “Omgaan met muziek.” This book has become a popular asset in the training of young musicians. That same enthusiasm greeted the Signalen van veraf en dichtbij (1981), a series of some forty short pieces for small ensembles.
Manneke’s oeuvre has grown to more than 250 works, which are written for every kind of instrumentation and ensemble imaginable. Some important features of his work are the spatial monumentality and an archipelago-like diversity. Several of his works have the title “Archipel” (archipelago). The musicologist Gerhard Wielakker mentioned Manneke in this context, and thus named him the “Bandmaster of Space.”
His music, written largely on commission, consists mostly of sacred and chamber music. “An essential part of Daan Manneke’s musical thinking is his great interest in improvisation, the other side of the often organically grown, strict form. Action versus reflection, intuition versus balanced form” (Gerard van der Leeuw). Manneke’s main sources of inspiration are, in his own words, “the 12th-century Notre Dame School of composers, the Renaissance, particularly Josquin, the Venetian school (Willaert, the Gabrielis, Monteverdi, and Heinrich Schütz), Bach, and Bach again, Bruckner; Scelsi, (late) Stravinsky, (all of) Messiaen, Xenakis, and time and again folk music from wherever.” He takes pride in the compliment he received from the music magazine Luister: “Daan Manneke is the Sweelinck of the 20th century.”
Manneke has written works for the Holland Festival, Festival Oude Muziek-Utrecht, Vrijdag van Vredenburg, Stichting Stabat Mater-Oirschot, NTR- ZaterdagMatinee, and the Rotterdamse Kunststichting, to name just a few. A large number of these works have been recorded on CD. In 2011, Aletta Becker made a radio documentary about Manneke. On the occasion of his 75th birthday, (2014) during a festival concert, he was granted the title of “Honorary Bandmaster of the Great, or Our Lady’s Church in Breda.” He gave numerous lectures, workshops and masterclasses within the Netherlands and abroad, and is a frequent jury member for competitions and panels.
In 1967, he won the Zeeland Culture Prize. In 1972, he received an award for Composition at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam. His composition Three times was awarded the Fonteyn Tuynhout Prize in 1977, and in 1980 he received the Hilvarenbeekse Muziekprijs for his composition, Pneoo. Additionally, for Er vallen stukken, he was awarded the Composition Prize from the City of Tilburg. For his many services in the field of music, Manneke was awarded the Culture Prize of the Province of North Brabant in 1999. For his national significance as a composer, teacher, and conductor, Manneke received the “Koninklijke Onderscheiding Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw” (Royal Decoration of Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion) in 2000. In January 2009, he received the Oeuvre Prize from the City of Breda.