Fred van Hove studied classical piano and composition in his native Belgium and played various forms of more popular music before becoming involved with the new improvisation movement. The dissolution of the high-energy trio in 1975 paved the way for new challenges as a performer and as a composer, and in the ensuing decades he has explored a wide variety of settings for his music. He was able to concentrate on solo and duet performances that offered more opportunity for musical clarity and the exploration of space, and to compose for a variety of instrument combinations. Recordings from this time reveal a pianist possessed of a well-honed technique with a unique style that combines classical, jazz, and new music influences in equal measure, which explores the full extent of the tonal palate of his instrument.
Van Hove is a very serious musician with a delicate sense of humor who can play a slow sparse tune full of delicate dissonance, only to follow it with a modernistic, slightly lopsided piece of boogie-woogie or stride piano. Years of playing powerful music show at all times; even when he is quiet and melodic, there is a sureness of touch and a pent-up excitement that hints at a possible explosion at any time. Although he remains relatively unknown in the U.S., he continues to be a major presence in Belgium, Europe and Japan, often playing with some of the most renowned improvisers from all over the world.