REGISTER NOW AND GET
• 5 FREE tracks! • 101 tracks for $9.99
ClassicsOnline Home » Flemish Romantic Music
Flemish Romantic Music
Vrolijke Ouverture (Cheerful Overture)
Marcel Poot (1901-1988)
Vlaamse Dansen (Flemish Dances)
Jan Blockx (1851-1912)
Fantasie op twee vlaamse volksliederen
(Fantasy on Two Flemish Folksongs)
August de Boeck (1865-1937)
Morgenstemming (Morning Mood)
Lodewijk Mortelmans (1868-1952)
Dennensymfonie (Fir Symphony)
Arthur Meulemans (1884-1966)
Matrozendans uit "de Zee"
(Sailors' Dance from "The Sea")
Paul Gilson (1865-1942)
The musical traditions of the Low Countries are ancient and
distinguished, from the time of Charlemagne to the great flowering of the High
Renaissance. Belgium became an independent country in 1830 and national musical
institutions were immediately set up, while a consciousness of national
identity led to a distinct national school of composition, enhanced by the
importance of the Liège school of violinists, although it was natural that
there should be an early French influence, followed by Wagnerian tendencies.
Among the most distinguished Belgian composers of the
present century is Marcel Poot, who was born at Vilvoorde, near Brussels, in
1901, a son of Jan Poot, director of the Royal Flemish Theatre. His earlier
musical studies were at the Conservatory in Brussels, followed by a period at
the Royal Flemish Conservatory in Anlwerp, where his teachers included Lodewijk
Mortelmans. In 1916 he took lessons from Paul Gilson and nine years later
joined some Gilson pupils who formed a group under the name of Synthétistes.
The award of the Rubens Prize in 1930 enabled him to move to Paris, where he
took lessons with Paul Dukas, before returning to Brussels. There he
established himself as a teacher critic and composer, serving from 1949 until
his retirement in 1966 as director of the Brussels Conservatory. The well known
Vrolijke Ouverture was written in 1935, cheerful, as its title suggests, and
Jan Blockx belongs to an earlier generation. He was born in
Antwerp in 1851 and had musical training as a chorister, continuing his studies
with some difficulty after the death of his father in 1864. He entered the
Ecole de Musique in Antwerp, the future Flemish Music School, and was a pupil
there of Benoit, before moving to Leipzig, where he was a contemporary of Grieg
and Christian Sinding, under the tuition of Reinecke. By 1885 he was again in
Antwerp, teaching at the Flemish Music School, his pupils including Lodewijk
Mortelmans. He became director of the Vlaamsche Muziekschool (now the Royal
Flemish Music Conservatory) in 1901. With his operas in both Flemish and
French, he won a more than local reputation, the founder of national opera in
the former language. His Flemish Dances were written in 1884, at the time of
his return to Antwerp from Leipzig and travels in Italy.
The Group of nationalist composers in Russia in the second
half of the nineteenth century, the Five, including the prolific
Rimsky-Korsakov, had some influence in Belgium, particularly on Paul Gilson and
his friend and contemporary August de Boeck. The latter was born in Merchtem in
the province of Brabant in 1865 and studied at the Royal Conservatory in
Brussels, with the intention of becoming an organist in his native village. The
meeting with Gilson directed his work as a composer towards a form of
impressionism, while his subsequent career brought employment as an organist in
major churches in Brussels and as teacher of harmony and organ at the Royal
Flemish Conservatory in Antwerp and of harmony at the Conservatory in Brussels.
In 1930 he retired to Merchtem. In addition to operas in Flemish and in French,
de Boeck wrote for ballet and for the concert hall. His Fantasy on Two Flemish
Folksongs was written in 1923 and makes imaginative use of its melodic material
in music that is firmly national in feeling.
Lodewijk Mortelmans was a pupil of Peter Benoit and Jan
Blockx at the School of Music in his native city of Antwerp, where he was born
in 1868. At he age of 25 he won the Belgian Prix de Rome with his cantata Lady
Macbeth and in 1902 joined the teaching staff of the Antwerp Conservatory as
professor of counterpoint. He was an enthusiastic champion of Flemish music and
was for some years President of the Society of Flemish Composers. Among his
pupils were Marinus de Jong and Flor Peeters. Morning Mood is an evocative
piece, in the impressionist manner favoured by some of his contemporaries.
The Institut Lemmens was established in Mechelen (Mechlin)
in 1879 as a centre for liturgical music. The founder Nikolaas Lemmens died in
1881 and was followed by Edgar Tinel, among whose pupils was Arthur Meulemans,
a later teacher at the institute. Meulemans was born at Aarschot in 1884, and
in 1914 joined the Koninklijk Atheneum at Tongeren. In 1917 he founded the
organ and song school of Limburg, at Hasselt, which he directed until 1930,
when he took over direction of the symphony orchestra of the Belgian
broadcasting service, a position he held until 1942, when he resigned in order
to devote himself to composition. As a composer he was influenced by Debussy,
while drawing inspiration always from his own country and its artistic
traditions. He was elected President in 1954 of the Royal Flemish Academy, of
which he had been a member since 1941. He wrote some fourteen symphonies,
operas that included a treatment of the subject of the national hero Egmont and
a characteristic Serenata for that most Belgian of instruments, the carillon.
His qualities as a composer are immediately apparent in his skilfully
orchestrated Fir Symphony, a work inspired by the landscape of the composer's
native region. Meulemans offered his own explanation of the work:
The four movements follow each other without a break.
Gilson, with Blockx and Mortelmans, represent the principal
influences on Flemish music at the turn of the century. Gilson was born in
Brussels in 1865 and studied at the conservatory there under Gevaert. He was
strongly influenced by Wagner and by the Russian nationalists, and after travel
abroad to Bayreuth, Paris and Italy, made possible by victory in the Belgian
Prix at Rome, he returned with an established reputation to teach at the
conservatories in Brussels and then in Antwerp, positions he later abandoned to
succeed Edgar Tinel as inspector of music education. In 1925 his pupils
celebrated their teacher's sixtieth birthday by establishing a loosely united
group known as the Synthétistes, and the influential Revue musicale beige.
Gilson's fame as a composer was principally due to his early work "La
mer" (The Sea) (1890-92), four symphonic sketches on a poem by Eddy Levis.
The popular Sailors' Dance, a kind of scherzo, forms the second movement of
BAT Philharmonic Orchestra, Brussels
The history of the BRT Philharmonic Orchestra, Brussels goes
back to the birth of the Belgian Radio in the 1930s. After the well-known
musicologist and promoter of contemporary music, Paul Collaer, had become head
of the Music Department of the Belgian Radio, the orchestra, under its
conductor Franz André, gained a world-wide reputation for its interpretations
of the latest compositions of Stravinsky, Berg, Bartók, Hindemith and other
20th century composers. The orchestra gave the first European performance of
Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra in Paris and the first West European
performance of the Fourth Symphony by Shostakovich, and has, over the years,
worked with many leading conductors, from Pierre Boulez, Paul Hindemith and
Darius Milhaud to Lorin Maazel and Zubin Mehta.
In 1978 the Radio Symphony Orchestra was dissolved and both
the Flemish and the French Radio divisions set up their own symphony
orchestras. The Flemish network soon had a new orchestra, the BRT Philharmonic,
with some 90 musicians and Fernand Terby became its principal conductor from
1978 to 1988. Since 1988, Alexander Rahbari has been the principal conductor
and musical director of the new BRT Philharmonic Orchestra.
Alexander Rahbari was born in Iran in 1948 and was trained
as a conductor at the Vienna Music Academy as a pupil of von Einem, Swarowsky
and Osterreicher. On his return to Iran he was appointed director of the
Teheran Conservatory of Music and took a leading position in the cultural
development of his country. In 1977 he moved to Europe, winning first prize in
the Besançon International Conductors' Competition and the Geneva silver medal.
In 1979 he was invited by Herbert von Karajan to conduct the Berlin
Philharmonic Orchestra and served as von Karajan's assistant in Salzburg.
Rahbari is Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and
has conducted major orchestras throughout Europe, in Japan and in Canada.
Alexander Rahbari is now a citizen of Austria.
Last Albums Viewed
Flemish Romantic Music