Jan van de Putte was born in Veenendaal, Netherlands in 1959. He has been living in Utrecht, Brussels and Rotterdam, before leaving for Paris. Since 1996 living between Paris and the Netherlands.
As a child he learned violin, and later also piano and bass guitar. Played in popband and in classical youth orchestra. Thereafter he studied Musicology, Sonology at Utrecht University with among others Jos Kunst and Floris van Manen, and Musical Theory, Composition and Electronic Music at Utrecht Conservatory with Joep Straesser and Ton Bruynel. Finished his compositional studies with Klaas de Vries, while teaching at the same time Electronic Music at the Rotterdam Conservatory. Darmstadt course in 1982 (Rihm, Lachenmann, Feldman), masterclasses by I. Xenakis and J. Cage in Middelburg, Stockhausen and Kagel in The Hague, Ligeti in Rotterdam. Resident in Van Doesburg House in Meudon (Paris) 1996-1997, and selected for IRCAM year-course 1997-1998 in Paris.
From any perspective, Jan van de Putte’s work is extraordinary. His compositions are shaped by Mahler, Debussy, Webern, Varèse, Stockhausen, Lachenmann and Rihm; traditional music from Indonesia, China and Japan; film directors Tarkovski and Bergman; artists Beuys, Twombly, Kiefer and primitive art; as well as authors Dostojevski, Beckett, Céline and Artaud. In addition, he has shown great interest in traditional folk and puppet theater, both Western and non-Western in origin, as this is a form of theater wherein music has always played a significant part.
In 1991 In Hora Mortis (1990) was performed during the Project Jonge Componisten (a project for young composers). It is a musical setting of a text by Thomas Bernhard for soprano and chamber orchestra. Es Schweigt (1993), also with a text by Thomas Bernhard, was written for the Asko Ensemble and soprano Angela Tunstall who premiered the work.
In 1994, Gabe Tarjan premiered the 70-minute mini-opera for one timpano solo Om mij mijzelf met mijn aan mezelf en mezelf en mijn eigen in Rotterdam. During the Holland Festival 2004 his opera Wet Snow was premiered with soprano Barbara Hannigan in the leading role. It is based on the second part of Notes from the Underground by Dostojevksi. In 2005 he was commissioned to write a piece in honour of the inauguration of Het Muziekgebouw aan het IJ in Amsterdam during the Holland Festival 2005: Ee jya nai ka ee jya nai ka ee jya nai ka! for three ensembles.
In 2007 his Arche for ensemble premiered at the ISCM festival in Hongkong and in 2009 his chamber opera I Am Her Mouth (based on the first part of Notes from the Underground by Dostojevksi) in a performance by Gerrie de Vries and the Matangi string quartet with piano.
Kagami-Jishi, a concert for piano and large orchestra, premiered in the Concertgebouw in 2012. In 2015 Jan van de Putte started on a grand project for various instruments and electronics. Its first movement was a piece for violin and electronics, dedicated to Joe Puglia: For Joe. Puglia performed the work that same year in the Hague municipal museum and on the November Music festival.
From 2007 till 2014 he wrote the Pessoa song-cycle. The first movement Uma só divina linha was premiered by the Schönberg Ensemble with conductor Reinbert de Leeuw and soprano Barbara Hannigan in the Muziek-gebouw in 2007. As most of the songs, it is a setting of a text by the Portuguese poet Àlvaro de Campos (a heteronym of the poet Pessoa). It was performed again during the Melbourne International Arts Festival 2008, and by the ensemble Remix in Porto, Amsterdam and Antwerp.
The second movement, Addiamento, was commissioned by ASKO | Schönberg Ensemble, as was the entire cycle, and premiered with mezzo-soprano Katalin Kàrolyi in 2010.
The third movement of the cycle, titled Bamboleamos no mundo, is a composition for a large ensemble, solo soprano and solo alto. It premiered in 2013 with soprano Keren Motseri and mezzo-soprano Barbara Kozelj
The cycle’s next movement, Insónia, was written for large ensemble, choir of sixteen voices and two solo sopranos. It premiered in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 2016, juxtaposed by the second and third movements.
This whole cycle has been recorded on a double CD.
Currently, Van de Putte is working on commissions for the STOLZ hobo quartet, for the ensemble Klangforum Wien and on two large solo works: one for cellist Katharina Gross and one for violinist Joe Puglia.
In 1992 the Amsterdam Art Fund granted the work In Hora Mortis their encouragement prize, and in 1993 it won 3rd prize at the International Rostrum of Composers. In 2013 Kagami-Jishi received the Matthijs Vermeulen prize.
Addiamento was nominated by Arvo Pärt in 2011 for the Prix de Composition Musicale 2011 de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco, and in 2015 Bamboleamos no mundo was nominated for the Prix de Composition Musicale 2015 de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco.