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Ivo Mortelmans

 

° 19.05.1901 Antwerpen - † 20.08.1984 Oostende
- Composer, conductor and music teacher
- Second oldest son of Lodewijk Mortelmans
 

 
Biography

 
Ivo Mortelmans received his first music lessons from Karel Wymans, and then started his music studies at the Antwerp music conservatory, against the wishes of his father Lodewijk Mortelmans.
There he received his first prizes in music theory, by Arthur de Hovre in organ (1923), and by Edward Verheyden in harmony (1923). His father gave him his first counterpoint lessons, after which he continued his studies at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels with Paul Gilson and Paulin Marchand.
 
In 1925 he won a first prize in counterpoint for the Jury Supérieure de Musique.
 
At the same time he taught at several secondary institutes (1945-1953) and various music schools or academies in Antwerp: music theory in Berchem (1925-1966), harmony in Deurne (1939-1972), music theory, harmony and music history in Mortsel (1941-1966).
Between 1930 and 1932 he was even director of the music school in Eindhoven, and conductor of the local opera society (1930-1935).
 
Until 1944 he was very active as conductor of the choir of the St. John's Church, of the opera choir of the Royal Flemish Opera (1921-1922), of the fanfare 'De Broederband' in Antwerp (1926-1934), of the harmony 'De Kolpingszonen' in Bergen op Zoom (1936-1942) and during the war years of the Lieder evenings.
 
From 1934 to 1944 he was responsible for the music criticism in the 'Gazet van Antwerpen'.
After his retirement as a teacher, he withdrew completely from public music life.
In addition to several instrumental works, mainly vocal compositions, Ivo Mortelmans wrote with the accent on the song of art and the choral work, for which religion, nature and love for one's own country and people (in other words: the Flemish folk spirit) were his main sources of inspiration.
 
He has a pronounced preference for the smaller genre and a clenched formulation, stripped of empty constructions and extensions. Stylistically, he links up with romanticism, but, in so far as these are helpful and efficient, he mixes novelties in his style. Ivo Mortelmans has never concerned himself with any -ism. He wants to express honestly and uninhibitedly what affective, religious, poetic and Flemish lives in him. His work is characterized by an exalted expression and a harmonious solidity. Many of his compositions betray sincere and introverted religious inspiration and exude a subtle mysticism or a contemplative atmosphere. His literary talent also provides an emotional expressive, often delicate, text sound.
 

 
 
In 1986, Inge Keersmaekers, a university student from Leuven, offered her dissertation to obtain a degree in Musicology. Her extensive thesis is entirely devoted to the life and work of Ivo Mortelmans.
It has become a substantial work, being two heavy A4-format books.
 
With thanks to daughter Luke Mortelmans, for the necessary illustrations and explanations.