Roux, Isak


b. Durban, South Africa, 4 April 1959


Born and bred in KwaZulu-Natal, Isak Roux studied at the then University of Natal where he obtained a BMus and, in 1988, his MMus in Composition with the dissertation "Local music:  Exploring the technical possibilities for establishing a South African compositional style". This study was conducted under the supervision of Jürgen Bräuniger and the internationally acclaimed composer Kevin Volans. 


In 1989 he relocated to Germany, taking classes in composition with Ulrich Süsse at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Stuttgart, where, since 1991, he has been teaching at the Waldorf School Uhlandshöhe.


Roux's work as a composer, arranger and pianist (both solo and ensemble) started while he was at university. Musical direction of productions such as Wakeman, Wakeman 2 and With a little help from my friends followed.


Increasingly, he added choral composition and conducting to his list of musical activities.


Resident in Europe, Roux has participated in musical festivals such as the Tonkünstlerfest (Baden-Württemberg, 1990 and 1993) and the International Composers' Workshop (Amsterdam, 1996). In 1999, he delivered a lecture-recital for the Stuttgart German-American Society on South African (township) jazz.


Roux's commitment to African musical forms, rhythms and instrumentation has, however, remained central to his creative vision.


In his career he has composed syncretically in avant-garde, post-avant-garde and contemporary classical styles (so-called new music), with his music regularly being performed in Germany, South Africa, the UK and the USA.


As an arranger he has become especially well known for his arrangements of South African music (traditional Afrikaans, Cape-Malay and Zulu – for piano, ensemble and voice).


Over the past few years his musical association with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Kwela Tebza has brought him wider recognition as both composer and arranger, in South Africa and abroad.






Ritual: Modern ballet/dance music, choreography by Paul Douglas. Two pianos. 1997



Intrada Africana: small orchestra. 2005

Kwela Concerto: four penny whistles, string orchestra and percussion. 2004 (commissioned)



Music for Tenor Saxophone and Piano: 1981

Composition for String Quartet: 1981

Songs of the Urban Wanderer: violin and harp. 1987

Iculo lezingane: piano, vibraphone/marimba, percussion, cello. 1987

Landscape: trombone, tape, 1995

lines, fragments, machines: violin, synthesizer, percussion, tape. 1996, revised 1998

Sketches: flute, marimba. 1997

Four African Scenes, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon. 1999; (commissioned)

Balafo (Études in African Rhythm): two marimbas. 1999

Kleine Chronik: clarinet, piano, 1999

Prime Cuts: Zwei Konstruktionen: oboe, cello. 1999 (commissioned)

Tekweni Suite: saxophone quartet. 2003 (commissioned)

Diepkloof Groove: saxophone quartet. 2007 (commissioned)



Dona nobis pacem: soprano, alto, tenor, bass (SATB), flute, double bass, percussion, piano. 1986 

Missa Brevis: boys’ chorus (SSA), flute, cello, harpsichord, two African drums. 1991 (commissioned)




Verbeeldingsvlug: Text by Johann P. Boshoff. Solo voice. 1985

Die ou vrou se lied: Text by Johann P. Boshoff. Solo voice. 1985

Stations (The Way of the Cross) (bilingual text by Johann P. Boshoff), bass, speaker, string quartet, piano, harpsichord, percussion, 2002



Music for Two Pianists. 1983

Ritual: Dance for Two Pianos. 1997

Preludes in African Rhythm. 1992-2000

Home. 2000

In Thy Presence. 2001

Penny Whistle Song. 2001.

Five South African Ragtimes. 2001

Piano Afrika Songs, 2001

Siyabonga. 2002

African Miniatures: Music for young pianists. 2004

Dr Kwela – Mr Ragtime, 2006 (commissioned)






Izintombi zaseKwatazi: Traditional Zulu. SATB. Undated.

Tischlied: Text by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and music Maxilian Eberwein. SATB, piano. 1986

Walil' umtwana: Original melody by Welcome Duru. SATB. 1986

Mit Lieb bin ich umfangen: Original by Johann Steuerlein. SATB. 1986

Tant' Hessie & Volkies: Traditional Afrikaans. SAB. 1986

Twelve (12) songs for Ladysmith Black Mambazo: arrangements for male voices and chamber orchestra, 2003 (commissioned)

Some Night Music, adaptations of three works by Mozart for four penny whistles, string orchestra, percussion and rhythm section, 2004 (commissioned)

Agnus Dei, baritone/mezzo soprano with piano and clarinet, 2006 revision of 1988 composition

Watermelon Song: saxophone quartet, vibraphone, bass guitar and percussion. 2007

Dona nobis pacem, new adaptation for ladies choir, piano and clarinet, 2007 (commissioned)

Cape Medley (in Afrikaans, of “Boegoeberg se dam” and “Saai die waatlemoen”), children’s choir and piano, 2007 (commissioned)







Four African Scenes on News for Woodwinds. Domus Quintet (Dolphin, 1999)

African Journal (various pieces). (, 2000)

Eine Hand voll Erde (various pieces). Isak Roux on piano (self-released, 2000), First Composer’s Portrait Concert in Stuttgart

Piano Afrika: Isak Roux plays traditional folk songs. Isak Roux, piano (Rhythm Records, 2001)

Piano Afrika 2: Honky Tonk Solo. Isak Roux, piano (self-released, GEMA, 2002)

“Township Guitar” (from Preludes in African Rhythm). Peter von Wienhardt, piano (Edition Musikat, 2002)

Tekweni Suite on We are not alone. Saxofourte, (BMG Ariola Classics, 2004)

No Boundaries.  Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Isak Roux – producer, arranger, composer and pianist (Heads Up International HUCD 3092, 2005), nominated for Grammy Award in category Best World Music Album in February 2006




Ritual: Dance for Two Pianos. Private recording, Stuttgart. 2002

Stations, Stuttgart, 19 April 2002 (world première), bass: Friedemann Lutz and Home, Balafo, and Mopani, 2002 the Second Composer’s Portrait Concert in Stuttgart

Stations, Bloemfontein, August 2002 (South African première), bass:  Vuyani Mlinde






Annually, since 1996 as pianist  with John Outland’s Christmas Chorale in Stuttgart.

April & August 2002:  Pianist in Stations.

November 2002:  Two jamming sessions with the late Jake “Big Voice” Lerole in the ICMF Heritage Concerts in Pretoria and Johannesburg, South Africa.

November 2003:  Première of 12 songs featured on CD No Boundaries performed with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the English Chamber Orchestra and players from the ICMF Orchestra

April 2005:  Third Composer’s Portrait Concert in Stuttgart, with the European première of Ritual: Dance for Two Pianos, Music for two Pianists and African Miniatures

November 2005:  Première of Some Night Music, Kwela Concerto and other arrangements.

Throughout 2006:  Kwela Tebza perform Roux’s arrangements and compositions in Oudtshoorn, Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg (South Africa), and Bern, Switzerland, the last with Roux on piano.

September 2006:  On piano with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, titles from No Boundaries, in Johannesburg, South Africa


December 2006:  Revised Agnus Dei performed by John Outland’s Christmas Chorale in Stuttgart

Saxofourte performs Tekweni Suite in Germany and abroad virtually every week.

William Chapman-Nyaho regularly performs parts of African Miniatures and Preludes in African Rhythm for Piano.





In F.Z. van der Merwe South African music collection at the University of Pretoria. Contact Mrs Eridine Roux at [email protected] / +27 12 4204787 (South Africa:  012 420 4787)

or email

[email protected]



1998:  Die ou vrou se lied, in Johann P. Boshoff's book of Afrikaans poetry Bloot.

2007:  Dr Kwela – Mr Ragtime, Unisa, Grade 6 Piano Examination Pieces

2007:  Kwela No. 1 and Lullaby in Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora Volume 1, Chapman-Nyaho (ed.), Oxford University Press.




Feature article in English in ClassicFeel Magazine (South Africa, October 2003)

Feature article in Afrikaans in Kakkerlak number 8 (South Africa, July 2007)

Various programme notes by Isak Roux, Michael Spencer or Johann P. Boshoff.

For other publications on Roux, search “isak roux” on, the Afrikaans link, and Google or any other major internet web search engine.




Coming Home, multilingual work for mixed choir, jazz tenor, lyrical tenor, female gospel singer, strings and jazz ensemble.


Compiled and written by Johann P. Boshoff © 2007-08-29

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