Roosenschoon, Hans


b. Den Haag, 17 December 1952


Since he won an Overseas Scholarship for Composers in 1976 from the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) which enabled him to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London, the music by Dutch-born composer Hans Roosenschoon has been performed regularly throughout South Africa to wide public acclaim - winning the Standard Bank’s “Young Artist of the Year Award” in 1987. Orchestral works form the larger part of his oeuvre for which he has received numerous commissions from all of the most significant commissioning bodies in South Africa.


At least 200 performances and broadcasts, nationally in particular but also internationally, have been documented. 

Numerous reviews and non-peer reviewed articles in magazines are recognized, as well as articles in accredited periodicals that discuss his music, its dissemination and peculiarities. His discography includes recordings for the SA Broadcasting Corporation's Transcription Service, as well as commercial recordings of his orchestral, choral, electronic and chamber music.


Roosenschoon's Timbila is perhaps among the most significant cross-cultural compositions to have emerged from South Africa, combining a group of traditional marimba players from the Chopi people of Mozambique with a Western symphony orchestra. It is but one example that confirms the composer's continuing interest in works which look to indigenous music for a creative impulse. But he has also drawn upon other diverse sources resulting in collage-like music that is typically eclectic in character.


One of his international performances worth mentioning is the orchestral study Ikonografie which was chosen for the "World Music Days" festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) in Warsaw, where it was performed in 1992 by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.   However, Roosenschoon’s music has been heard in the USA, in several West- and East European countries, and in the UK.


Hans Roosenschoon has also made important contributions to cultural life in other areas - as a broadcaster and music producer, as an arts administrator, a promoter of South African music, an adjudicator at competitions, and, for some time, as a member of the Board of Directors of SAMRO. 


Roosenschoon was the recipient in 1998 of a Merit Award given by the Cape Tercentenary Foundation in acknowledgement for his contribution to music in the Western Cape. In 2004 he was visiting professor in composition at the Mozarteum University, Salzburg.


In 2004 Roosenschoon was visiting professor in composition at the Mozarteum University, Salzburg, and in 2007 he presented seminars on his music at the universities of Bristol and York in the UK. In November 2009, he presented a Keynote address at the conference Music and Migration organized by the New Zealand Musicological Society, held at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch.


From 1998 until 2006 he was Director of the Konservatorium at Stellenbosch University.


For more information on Hans Roosenschoon please visit his website

For information on the Konservatorium, Stellenbosch University, consult




"On this evidence, however, it is those strong, seductive continental voices - Berio, Ligeti, Lutoslawski, and Stockhausen - which have lingered longest in his mind. And it takes musical character of no little determination to rise above the pale imitation of any or all of these".


(Whittall, Arnold. June 1986. GRAMOPHONE, Vol. 64, No. 757, London)


"You can tell Roosenschoon has an acute musical imagination from the way a small detail as a ticking percussion figure is allowed to grow and to engulf the entire texture".

"There's an emotional directness about this music that is often naive. But unlike so much cross-cultural music it is never pseudo-naïve".


(Hewett, Ivan. b/c 13 and 17 June, 1992. New Releases Morgan, Nick (ed.), in SATURDAY REVIEW, BBC RADIO 3)


"Roosenschoon's music achieves a remarkable synthesis, which in effect is quite individual. While certain parameters of the music apply avant-garde techniques, others are often treated in a more conventional way". 

"However the listener might perceive these African works, they incorporate all of Roosenschoon's best qualities: an innate sense of structure, rhythmic interest, sensitivity to colouristic effect and a strong lyric tendency".


(May, James. 1992. HANS ROOSENSCHOON in Morton, Brian & Collins, Pamela (ed.), CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS, St James Press, Chicago & London)


"(CLOUDS CLEARING) expresses the joy of South Africa’s new democracy in a way that no political speech ever could".


(Hudson, Barrie. 4 August 1994. Evening Express, Aberdeen, Scotland)


"Roosenschoon's music reflects a personal response to experiences of joy, sorrow, mystery and contradiction, through strong emphases on sound painting, collages of diverse material, structural coherence and the fusion of African elements into his own tonal language". 

"Roosenschoon follows a transformational and multi-level approach to rhythmic and tonal organization by which he obtains coherence, synthesis, variety, contrast and the simultaneous unfolding of different, yet related, ideas".


(Viljoen, Nicol. 2001. HANS ROOSENSCHOON in: Sadie, Stanley and Tyrell, John (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd Edition, Vol. 21 London)







Tablo (1976)

Sinfonietta (1976)

Expensive Symphony (1977)

Katutura (1977)

'n saaier het uitgegaan om te saai......... (1978)

Mosaiek (1978)

Ghomma (1980)

Ikonografie (1983)

Anagram (1983)

Timbila (1985) for chopi xylophone ensemble and orchestra 

Architectura (1986)

Chronicles (1987)

Mantis (1988)

Circle of light (1989)

Die sonnevanger (1990)

The magic marimba (1991)

do-re-mi-fabriek (1992)

Solar winds (1995) for symphonic wind band

Gaudeamus (1995)

Kaleidoskoop (1997)

Aurora (1998)

Speculum musicae (2002)

Menorah (2005)

Sticks by the river sounding (2005)

Earth, water, air and fire (2006)

…or to err… (2013)



Ekstase (1975)

Cantata on psalm 8 (1976)

Ars poetica (1979) for baritone, double choir and orchestra 

Does the noise in my head bother you? (1988) 

Shosholoza (1996) arr. for SATB choir and orchestra

Ubuntu (1996)



Vier gebede (2004) for medium voice and orchestra

To the tune of (2007) – concerto for flute, strings, piano and percussion









Concertino (1972) for piano and string orchestra

Janus (1973)

Partita (1973)

Passacaglia (1975)

Palette (1977)

Horizon, night-sky and landscape (1987)

Clouds clearing (1994)

Triptiek (1997)

Goggaboek (1972/2011)



Katonk (1971) for piano septet

Suite (1973) for oboe and piano

Tarantella (1973) for violin and piano

Bepeinsing (1973) for 'cello and piano

Toccatino (1973) for piano quartet

Invensie (1974) for 3 strings

Vioolstuk (1974)

13 Sketse (1974-75) for various instrument combinations

Kanon (1975) for xylophone, oboe, bassoon and 'cello

Psige (1975) for chamber ensemble

Makietie (1978) for brass quintet

To open a window (1995) for string quartet

Ark I (1996) for French horn solo

Ark II (1996) for tenor trombone solo

A new costume for the Emperor (2000) for piano trio



(for piano unless indicated otherwise)

Herinneringe (1967-1970) 

Juvenilis (seven easy pieces from different years)

Drie klavierstukke (1970) 

Augurk (1970) 

Goggaboek (1972) 

Organ book (1973-78)

Miniatures (1973) 

3 Fugas (1974)

Sonatine (1974) 

Double fugue (1975) for organ

Credo (1975) 

Chorale prelude (1978) for organ

Chorale postlude (1978) for organ

Fingerprints (1989) 

Klavierkant (2004) 

Landskap (2005)  for piano duo

Celebrations (2006) 

Mapulani (2007) 

Accolade (2007) 

Curved surface & Symmetry (2013) for organ


(a cappella unless indicated otherwise)



Schilder (ca. 1970) for speaking voice and piano

Vlam (1973) for baritone and piano

Caritas (2002) for baritone and piano



Miserere (1991) for TB

Kô, lat ons sing (1993) for SA double choir

Mbira (1994) for SA

Magnificat (1994) for SA

Caritas (1996) for SA double choir and piano

In principio erat verbum (1998) for SA double choir

Sky (2004) for SA double choir



Sacred cantata (1971) for alto, tenor, choir and organ

Psalm 23 (1979)

Firebowl (1980)

Prayer of St Richard (1990) 

Jubilate (1995)

Magnificat (1996)

Miserere (1996)

O, waar is Moses (1996) 

Ubuntu (1996)

Wat is die mens…..(1997) for choir and piano

Vos estis lux mundi (1999)

Grootste niewedjaar (2000)

Ons het ‘n hys gebou (2001)

Lux aeterna (2003)

Kô, lat ons sing (2005)




Genesis (1977)

Kataklisme (1980)

Sfinks I (1984)

Helios (1984)

If music be (1984)

Narcissus (1985)

Sfinks II (2007)

Labyrinth (2007)

Off the record (2008)

Klinkklaar (2008)

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences