Daniel Schell, Biography

Daniel Schell, biography


written 2018-11-20


A passionate of  music and maths. (Schellekens, 1944). Civil Engineer from University of Brussels, then studied M.Sc in Operational Research, London School of Economics. Guitar, flute in the Academy of Ixelles and Uccle, then composition and harmony with various masters including André Vandernoot and Ronald Zollman. Indian music with Ashok Pathak, Dhruba Ghosh, Harsh Wardhan, Pandit Jasraj and others.


Daniel wrote three  Operas, on texts by Amélie Nothomb:”Hygiène de l’Assassin”  ( created in Brussels, 1995 then in Opera Royal de Wallonie, Febr 2000) , “Les Combustibles” (created in Paris, 1997), “Le sabotage Amoureux”(2006, Creation by Opera Royal de Wallonie).
His last opera ‘ Amour, Neige de Soleil’ on poems by Christian Dotremont. was created in June 2016, Theatre Poeme, Brussels, festival Ars Musica. Performed by Gregory Decerf and Quatuor Tana.

In process: ‘Les contes de l’Arbre Roi’,  the myths of the forest, libretto in collaboration with Jean-Claude Servais. ‘Vendredi/Vrijdag’ after the theater play by Hugo Claus. ‘Der Neue Mensch‘ on Otto Freundlich. ‘Dharma in Big Sur‘ on Jack Kerouac.


Oratorio Ishango” (2002). Last performance June 2022:  Directed by Dirk Brossé, with Cavema Choir of Namur, African Choir, Jazz Quartet (Soloist; Fabrice Aleman) ,  African percussionists. , Choir prepared by  Denis Menier. On texts by Tittinga Pacere (Burkina faso), Chirikure (Zimbabwe), Gcina Mhlope (South Afrika) and Lokenath Bhattacharya (Bengal,.

Last compositions include : 3 Brani for the Trio Harmonia, Piano Sonatas “Trois façons de regarder le soleil “(2000) and ‘L’Unes’ (2012)’, for Alessandra Garossi. Vocal quintets ‘Funtana’, for Goyvaerts Consort. Violin Sonata ‘Cecilia Affasciniata’. “Caro Trio Improvisatore for Clarinet” (created 1997 Festival “Gestes et Musique” France Musique.) “le Chant du San Serafino” for Soprano & Quintet on text by Pascale Tison (cr. Ensemble Kadeleis, 1998 Botanique),  Brass Quintet ‘The travelling Musician” (2000) created  Budapest by ‘Brass in the Five’ under the direction of Gergely Vajda. ‘Optimal Studies’ for various chambre ensemble (Budapest, 2000). ‘Gira Girasole” L’art de la variation’, Ensemble Karo solists Zoltan Lantos (viol), Isabella di Venosa (voc) Damiano Puliti (cello) Fête Européenne de la musique, 2001. /// ‘L’Aile Perdue’ trio for tap-guitar, O.Verschueren ( tg ), E.Suys ( cl ), A.Charbonnel ( cel ). /// Melodies ‘Se amando troppo’ (200-2013) on poetry by Dacia Maraini, for Chiara de Palo (sop)//// ‘Bawari’ with Pandit Jasraj for Tana String Quartet (2013)/// ‘Les Belles Endormies‘ for tap-guitar and bansuri 2016. In preparation ‘Concerto for Tap-Guitar and Orchestra’ .
Ensembles In the late 70’s, Daniel created the Group Cos. Successively “Postaeolian train robbery” , “Viva Boma” (EMI) published by Musea, France. Then “Babel“, “Swiss Chalet” and “Pasiones” already a small opera which was performed more than 100 times. In 1980 and later he collaborates with Dick Annegarn on ‘Egmont’, an impression on the music of the Low-Countries.

Since 1990, he works with his contemporary chamber Ensemble Karo, with whom he has recorded 3 albums: “If Windows they have” and “The Secret of Bwlch” for Crammed Discs, Brussels. The project   “Gira Girasole” for Materiali Sonori, San Giovani Val d’Arno involves variations on Italian popular themes. Karo Trio, an ensemble in which he invites musicians such as  Ariane de Bièvre, Fabrice de Graef, Sandip Banerjee, Carlo Strazzante, in order to perform a music half-written, half-improvised.

Optimal Music and Math Music Theory
Daniel’s personal research has brought him to combine mathematics and harmony in a personal “Karo” language, where optimality is taken as a guiding rule. He has developed with Ola Rinta-Koski and Thomas Pintelon a ‘Karo Engine’ helping the composer to calculate those optima. The transformation of popular (Italian…) or antique (Gregorian, Indian ) melodic elements through this process has dominated his recent works. He has achieved several research projects in various institutions. In 2000, EURO, the European Association of Operational Research has commissioned several musical works related to optimality in music. ‘The Travelling Musician’ and ‘Optimal Studies’ were created in Budapest. Daniel is also a participant to the IRCAM Seminar MaMux where he presents a research project on ‘Optimal connection of Chords on Zn’.

Musical Theatre:
‘L’enfoui fuit‘ sextet for tiptar, clarinet, cello, French Horn, synthesiser, percussion. Direction: Ken Ichi Nagakawa.

L’Arbre Roi’  on text by Jean-Claude Servais, created for the City of Rambouillet, with Ensemble Conservatoire de Mons, direction Jean-Philippe Collard-Neven.
Digue‘ (2007 ) on poems by Christian Dotremont, with Video projection, Mathilde Sevrin (sop), Ensemble Conservatoire Mons.

Cinema: he wrote the music for many feature films “Het Gezin Van Paemel” van Paul Cammermans-Hugo Claus- prod. Jan Van Raemdonck , “Papegaai” van Hans Hilkema, “de Wereld van Ludovic” van Jean-Pierre De Decker. He wrote for “Ionesco” from Thierry Zeno,  “Lions” by Justin Cartwright (BBC).

Silent Movies: Daniel accompanies silent movies, mainly surrealist films of the 20’s and later: Henri Storck, Henri d’Ursel, Ernst Moerman, Charles Dekeukeleire. Those were performed in different Museums such as Bozar, Musée d’Orsay, Beaubourg…

Arrangements Always for films, he produced and arranged numerous recordings of classical operas (Bellini, Puccini, Verdi, Rossini, Mozart) and symphonies (Mendelsohn, Delibes…).In 2007 he wrote the Arrangement of the violin ‘Concerto in D’ of Paganini for the Royal Harmony of Guides, soloist Lorenzo Gatto.

Dance: Avi Kaiser asked him to work for his his dance project ” Le départ de Marseille” a commission of the Stadttheater Remscheid.


The instrument played by Daniel is the tap-guitar or tiptar. Daniel met Emmett Chapman in 1980, and made the first steps with him. Later he developed tools and methods to improve reading and playing. He wrote a method book “My Space, My Time“, and leads the “E-Tap” “European Tap Seminar”, part of the Académie d’été de Wallonie where is was joined by prominent t-g players as Frank Jolliffe, Wolfgang Daiss, K.Wagner,  Jim Lampi, Markus Reuter, Teed Rockwell, Jim Wright, Randy Strom, Kay Kurosawa, and many others.

Indian Music and Sangit Academy

In 1991 he created, the Sangit Academy of Classical Indian Music where he teaches now regularly, with Bert  Cornelis,  in order to develop his “My Space, My Time” pedagogical concept. There he was joined in 1991 by Pandit Ashok Pathak with whom he studied the Indian raga system. Later on he studied the related pedagogy with Dhruba Ghosh who was to join the Academy in 1997. With this experience, Daniel wrote “Practice of Indian Music“. Many masters (including Pandit Jasraj, Rita Ganguli, Subroto Roy Chowdury, Ronu Majumdar, Kala Ramnath, Harsh Wardan, Purbayan Chatterjee, Kushal Das) visit now the school regularly. Daniel has accompanied Ashok Pathak, Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay, Shaila Piplapure, Gauri Guha and Subhankar Chatterjee in concert. He wrote ‘The Tabla’ method with Sandip Banerjee, a long time collaborator, ‘The Bansuri’ method with Harsh Wardhan. ‘The Jasraj Songbook‘ with Pandit Jasraj. In 2002 he was invited by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations to tour in India with the Karo Ensemble. In 2011 he received a grant from the Indian Government, Indian Embassy Brussels, for achievement.