Jacqueline Fontyn was born in 1930 in Antwerp. Her parents recognized her exceptional musical talent and soon after her fifth birthday entrusted the renowned Russian piano teacher Ignace Bolotine with daily piano lessons. He encouraged her to develop her taste for improvisation.
At the age of fourteen, she decided to become a composer. She received her grounding in the techniques of composition from Marcel Quinet, then went to Paris where Max Deutsch, a fervent disciple of Schoenberg, taught her the twelve-tone system. She wrote in this style until 1979, although she always kept a considerable freedom and flexibility.
In 1956 she attended Hans Swarowsky’s conducting class at the Akademie für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (Academy of Music and Performing Arts) in Vienna.
From 1963 to 1990 Jacqueline Fontyn worked as Professor of Music Theory at the Antwerp Conservatory and 1970–1990 taught composition at the Royal Brussels Conservatory. She lectures regularly at master classes, universities, and conservatories the world over. Her catalog of over a hundred works includes orchestral, vocal, chamber, and instrumental compositions, which are played by leading orchestras and at major festivals all over the world.
For her compositional work Jacqueline Fontyn has received many honors and awards, most notably the Spanish Oscar Espla Prize and the Prix Arthur Honegger by the “Fondation de France.”
She was asked to write the set piece, a Violin Concerto, for the finals of the 1976 Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition, and has twice undertaken commissions from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. In 2006 the Library of Congress purchased all her manuscripts.
Jacqueline Fontyn is a member of the Belgian Royal Academy and in 1993 she was raised to peerage by the King of Belgium in recognition of her artistic merits.
Broad harmonic effects, rhythmic litheness, and constant exploration of instrumental resources are the hallmarks of her continually evolving musical language. Her expressive and poetic dimensions appeal to the sensitive listener keen to discover new horizons.