Thom Willems was born in 1955 in Arnheim in The Netherlands. He studied at the Royal Music Conservatory in The Hague, electronic composition with Jan Boerman and composition for instruments with Louis Andriesssen. Towards the end of his studies he gave up the piano to concentrate completely on composition.
When in 1984 William Forsythe became director of the ballet of the Frankfurt Opera, Willems was involved from the beginning, because Forsythe greatly valued his music on account of the images and structures he created. He composed the music for numerous of his works, like for example LDC, The Questioning of Robert Scott , Eidos:Telos, Self Meant to Govern and many others. In 1987 he achieved international success with the piece In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated that he created together with Forsythe for nine dancers of the Paris Opéra.
Into the late eighties Willems used sound recordings for his electronic music and his music collages, manipulated them rhythmically. By now the composer works with the most advanced computer technology.
In the beginning Forsythe still explained his conceptions as to construction of scenery, the energy, the number of dancers and the duration of the piece. Based on these concepts Willems set out to compose the music. Today Willems proposes serial tonal sequences which he keeps changing and not only during the time of rehearsals, but also after the premiere and during performances – quite in keeping with Forsythe’s favorite method of “work in progress”.