updated 22 April 2021
© Lise Mernier

Benoît Mernier

Belgian composer born 16 December 1964 in Bastogne.

Benoît Mernier began studying organ with Firmin Decerf before joining the Royal Conservatoire of Liège. At the Conservatoire, he was awarded numerous awards as well as a degree in organ from Jean Ferrard’s class, to whom he was assistant for several years. After two years of training with Jean Boyer, Mernier discovered contemporary music on meeting Claude Ledoux, Henri Pousseur, Bernard Foccroulle, Célestin Deliège, and Philippe Boesmans, who went on to study composition alongside him.

A teacher and a performer, Mernier plays as a soloist with a repertoire going from early music (seventeenth to eighteenth century) to Romantic music and contemporary works. His compositions have been commissioned by festivals such as Ars Musica, Festival Présences, Wien Modern, and Gaudeamus Festival, and have been played by musicians and ensembles such as Patrick Davin, Pascal Rophé, the Arditti Quartet, Ensemble Modern, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Danel Quartet, the Trio Medici, the Trio Fibonacci, Ensemble Ictus, Musiques Nouvelles, Spectra Ensemble, the Chœur de Chambre de Namur, La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra, the Liège Royal Philharmonique, the Belgian National Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Over 2002 and 2003, Mernier was composer-in-residence at the Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, and at the Austrian festival Carinthischer Sommer. His first opera Frühlings Erwachen (Spring Awakening) was premiered in 2007 at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, which commissioned the work. This piece underwent a new production in 2015 in a version for chamber orchestra, and is also the subject of a monograph. Recorded by the label Cyprès and released in a CD–DVD box set, the piece was awarded the Diaposon d’Or in 2009. Mernier was also the guest of honor at the 2008 Festival de Wallonie. In 2013, his second opera, La Dispute, was premiered, based on Pierre de Marivaux’s prose comedy of the same name. Mernier participated in the Pierrot Rewrite project launched by Musiques Nouvelles, for which he set one of Belgian symbolist poet Albert Giraud’s Pierrot lunaire poems to music.

Having taught music analysis for about ten years in several Belgian arts schools, Mernier became professor of organ and improvisation at the Institut Supérieur de Musique et de Pédagogie (IMEP) in Namur until 2019 when he became professor of organ at the Royal Conservatoire de Bruxelles. He has been a member of the Royal Academy of Belgium in the class of fine arts since 2007. He is also lead organist at the Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon in Brussels.

Mernier’s catalogue gives pride of place to the organ, such as in Artifices (1989), Cinq Inventions (Five Inventions) (1998-2001), Toccata (2004), and Missa Christi Regis Gentium (2000). The piano also takes center stage in his oeuvre, in songs such as Esquisse (Sketch) (2002), Les Ombres errantes (Wandering Shadows) (2004), Couleurs astrales (Astral Colors) (1986), and Les Idées heureuses (Happy Ideas) (1997-2000). These pieces explore a kind of counterpoint that Mernier has labeled “oblique,” meaning that it turns toward the interplay of textures rather than construction by blocks. Frühlings Erwachen (Spring Awakening) is a good example. According to Belgian pianist Jean-Luc Fafchamps, Mernier does not belong to a particular school. His approach to writing is one of understanding the music that precedes him, and his aim is not so much to break with tradition as to confront it. This approach explains the majority of his catalogue being in traditional forms, such as piano concerto, mass, and opera.

His work is released by Durand, Billaudot, and XXI Music Publishing and is recorded by the label Cyprès.

Prizes and Awards

  • Selection of Cinq Inventions for organ for the International Society for Contemporary Music festival, 2003
  • Paul Gilson Award for Quintette avec clarinette (Quintet with Clarinet), awarded by the Community of French-Language Public Radio, 1999
  • Fuérison Prize for Blake Songs for voice and chamber orchestra, awarded by the Belgian Royal Academy, 1995
  • UNESCO International Composers’ Tribune for Artifices for organ, 1990


Forum des compositeurs, Forum Opera, Orchestre philharmonique royal de Liège

Liens Internet

(liens vérifiés en avril 2021).


  • Robert WANGERMÉE (éd.), L’Éveil du Printemps, naissance d’un opéra, Wavre, Mardaga, 2007.


  • Benoît MERNIER, Dickinson Songs ; Concerto Pour Orgue, dans « A Wake of Music », 1 CD Cypres, 2018, CYP4649.
  • Benoît MERNIER, Hymne Pange Lingua, dans « Hymnes », 1 CD Aeolus, 2017.
  • Benoît MERNIER, Concerto pour violon ; Vi(v)a! ; Concerto pour piano, dans « La grâce exilée », 1 CD Cypres, 2016.
  • Benoît MERNIER, « Révélations », Ami Hoyano, orgue, 1 CD Ctésibios, 2013.
  • Benoît MERNIER, Deux Mélodies, Sophie Karthäuser : soprano, Cédric Tiberghien : piano, dans « Green », 1 CD Cypres, 2011, CYP1664.
  • Benoît MERNIER, « Frühlings Erwachen », 2 CD Cypres, 2008, CYP4628.
  • Benoît MERNIER, Trio à clavier No.1 ; An die Nacht ; Blake songs, dans « An Die Nacht », 1 CD Cypres, 2006, CYP4624.
  • Benoît MERNIER, Images, dans « Debussy’s Corner », 1 CD Cypres, 2003, CYP1637.
  • Benoît MERNIER, Quintette pour clarinette et cordes ; Les Niais de Sologne ; Les Idées Heureuses ; Intonazione, dans « Les Idées Heureuses », 1 CD Cypres, 2002, CYP4613.
  • Benoît MERNIER, « Missa Christi Regis Gentium / Inventions pour orgue », 1 CD Cypres, 2001, CYP4612.