Daan Manneke was born on November 7, 1939 in Kruiningen (Zeeland). His surname - betraying his roots - is derived from the Flemish mannekijn, from which French and English have taken their word ‘mannequin’. His predominantly Flemish ancestry is interrupted by a lone Spanish soldier who remained in Zeeland during the Eighty Years’ War. From those few drops of Latin blood Manneke inherited a broad and decidedly un-Dutch view of the world that, via the writer Gezelle, carried into the land of Verlaine and Rimbaud. He is a farmer’s son, bound to the earth and the seasons.
His father was conservative, with an affinity for order; his mother was more the spiritual type. In this orthodox-Protestant family there was no place for a radio, but the Bible was always within reach. He was raised on the Psalms; from his earliest youth, nothing could be as natural as singing. Zeeland in those days had not yet been overrun by tourists, and was a tranquil archipelago of contrasts and small communities.

Daan Manneke received his first music lessons from Adriaan Kousemaker, music teacher and publisher in the town of Goes. In 1959 he began his studies at the Brabant Conservatory in Tilburg with Jan van Dijk (composition) and Huub Houët and Louis Toebosch (organ). He later studied with Kamiel D’Hooghe in Bruges and Brussels.
His life and compositions took on a definitive form through his friendship with
Ton de Leeuw, with whom he studied beginning in 1966 and who proved to be an lifelong source of inspiration. For many years De Leeuw was the Netherlands’ sole advocate of, and expert in, non-Western music. Ton de Leeuw in turn brought Manneke into contact with Olivier Messiaen, with whom he also took a number of lessons.
After many years as an organist Daan Manneke was appointed professor at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam in 1972, teaching 20th-century musical analysis, and in 1986 he was made professor of composition. Over the years he has tutored a great number of young composers.
Daan Maaneke is the founder of the
chamber choir Cappella Breda (founded in 1976), a choir with which he presents a wide variety of concerts that reflect his own musical style. Programmes range from Venetian multichoral works to compositions by Bruckner, Arvo Pärt and unknown Renaissance composers.
An integral part of Daan Manneke’s attitude towards music is his interest in improvisation, the polar opposite of his strict, often organically-cultivated, forms. Action as opposed to reflection, inspiration vs. balanced form. Manneke is a master in getting entire workshop audiences to jettison their preconceived inhibitions and join in improvisations. In 1977 he published a workbook for contemporary improvisation, Omgaan met muziek. This book has become a popular asset in the training of young musicians. That same enthusiasm greeted the Signalen van veraf en dichtbij (1981), a series of some forty short pieces for small ensembles.
Daan Manneke’s oeuvre, a well of diversity, has grown to more than 200 works. For his many services in the field of music, Daan Manneke was awarded the culture prize from the province of North Brabant in 1999.
In January 2009 was awarded an important price for his work from the city of Breda,