Philippe Herreweghe

and the Word became Song


documentary - 56’ - betacam digital - 1999

directed by Sandrine Willems



Philippe Herreweghe is first and foremost the choir-master who put back all the freshness and purity into Baroque choral music. He is also the orchestra leader who constantly seeks out new material, from the Romantic to the Contemporary repertoires. But above all he is the man who, thanks to his incredible energy, kindles a sacred flame whose rays transfix not only the general public but his performers as well.

This film portrait thus attempts to capture all these facets via interviews, concerts, and above all rehearsals which lead us from the Bach Cantatas to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.



Philippe Herreweghe was born in Ghent (Belgium) in 1947 in a middle-class family. He simultaneously studied medicine and music. In 1969 he set up the Collegium Vocale in Ghent, and created with them a much talked-about Passion according to St. John. Gustav Leonhardt, who appreciated his work, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt invited Herreweghe and the Collegium to collaborate on the complete recordings of the Bach cantatas.

In Paris, Philippe Herreweghe met Philippe Beaussant, which led him to set up the vocal and instrumental ensemble La Chapelle Royale (1977).

In 1991, when the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées was founded, he became its artistic director.

Today, Philippe Herreweghe also conducts orchestras in Berlin and Vienna, and has taken over the direction of Flanders’ Philarmonic Orchestra.



Featuring :

The Collegium Vocale, The Chapelle Royale, The Orchestre des

Champs-Elysées, The Jeune Orchestre Atlantique, Rias Kammerchor


Interviews :

Stephan Maciejewski, artistic adviser at the Chapelle Royale

Renaud Machart, musical critic

Gustav Leonhardt, harpsichordist and conductor

Sigiswald Kuijken, violonist and conductor

Paul van Nevel, choirmaster and conductor

Paul Van Den Berghe, singer in the Collegium Vocale

Philippe Beaussant, Founder of the Institute of Ancient Music and Danse

Harm Jan Schwitters, cellist player in the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées



Musical excerpts directed by Philippe Herreweghe

Johann Sebastien Bach

cantata BWV 9 - BWV 42 - BWV 19

Johannes Passion

Matthäus Passion


Ludwig von Beethoven

Symphony n° 9

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Symphony n° 35 K.385 Haffner

Meistermuzik K.477

Symphonia concertante for violin, alto and orchestra KV 364

Arnold Schönberg

Pierrot Lunaire

Pascal Dusapin


Other musical excerpts :

piece for viola, Schuman’s Symphony n°4

final chorus of the Matthew Passion, directed by Mengelberg



image : Ella van den Hove

sound : Eric Chabot

editing : Monique Rysselinck

sound editing and mixing : Jean-Jacques Quinet

executive producer : Benoît Peeters

redaction Arte : Jean Wittersheim

associate producers :

Arte Belgium : Carine Bratzlavsky

RTBF Brussels : Benoît Jacques de Dixmude

RTBF direction of co-productions : Ives Swennen

RTBF production manager : Roch Bosquee

Canvas : Regine Clauwaert

a Les Piérides, RTBF, Arte-Belgium, Canvas co-production



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