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Lodewijk Mortelmans 1868-1952


* Sunday 22 NOVEMBER 2020 - 20:00    &    * Tuesday 24 NOVEMBER 2020 - 20:00

Address: DE MUNT / LA MONNAIE - Bozar, hall Henry Le Bœuf - Ravensteinstraat 23, 1000 Brussels

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* APRIL 2018 - New Arts International

website :
New Arts Intl. logo Luister 10  


* 7 MARCH 2018 - Basia con fuoco

The sea is no more of a mockery than the emergency ditch. Both take their toll regardless of circumstances, supplications or bribes..
A curse rests on the young Ivo: as soon as his wife becomes pregnant, he will be devoured by the sea. That was how his father sank, and so was his twin brother. But that you cannot escape your fate knows that anyone who has ever heard of Oedipus and if it is in the stars that your life ends in the waves then you drown, even if there is no sea nearby. As it were, because the sea, which is audibly present in 'The Children of the Sea'.
From the first notes of the overture you can hear the noise, swells and storms... How visually you want your notes to be? It can't be more visual, it's expressionism at its best.
'The Children of the Sea' of the Belgian composer Lodewijk Mortelmans (1868-1952) had his premiere in 1920 - unsuccessfully - and the disappointed composer adapted it into a 90-minute suite, half of which has now been recorded by Phaedra. The late-Romantic idiom appeals to me greatly, as does the story in verses by Raf Verhulst. What's more, I'm pretty impressed.
The performance is more than sublime. Dirk Vermeulen makes the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen play as if their lives depend on it, breathtaking! Liesbeth Devos (Stella) is a true discovery for me. Her crystal pure soprano is extremely pleasant to listen to and to admire. Peter Gijsbertsen sings a moving Ivo, in that role he is truly inimitable to me. How beautiful and warm his voice has become! Werner van Mechelen (Petrus) completes the cast out of thousands. ‘Ellen’ on the text by Frederick van Eeden (Gijsbertsen) and 'Als de ziele luistert' (Devos) complete the 'Mortelmans section', but there are still songs and arias by Peter Aerts and August de Boeck. Liesbeth Devos sings the Cantilene of Francesca from La Route d'Emeraude of August de Boeck : This CD is a MUST!


* 12 FEBRUARY 2018 -


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* 24 JANUARY 2018 - Melome

 Flanders Fields Vol97 - The Children of the Sea


* JANUARY 2018 - Opus Klassiek

Phaedra IFF 97PHAEDRA In Flanders' Fields 97

- Lodewijk Mortelmans : De Kinderen der Zee (selection) - Ellen, een lied van de smart - Als de ziele luistert
- Peter Aerts : In Flanders' Fields
- August De Boeck : C'est en toi, bien aimé - Cantilene of Francesca (La route d'Emeraude) - Recitativo and aria from Prinses Zonnestraal (Winternachtsdroom)
Liesbeth Devos, soprano - Peter Gijsbertsen, tenor - Werner van Mechelen, baritone
Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen - Dirk Vermeulen, conductor
PHAEDRA PH 92097 - 78'
Recording: JULY 2017, Reutlingen
© Aart van der Wal -


* Tuesday 23 JUNE 2015 - Music and the 'Tour de France'

Translation :
Paris as last stage has a great musical history, but what's about all the other stages in this Tour de France?
A small 'Tour' along the places where the Tourcaravan will stop next month, and see which composers have their names attached to it.
Extract :The third stage starts in Antwerp, where several composers lived, although some of their names might be unknown to certain music lovers : Jan Blockx (1851-1912), Louis Marischal (1928-1999), Marcel Mattheessens (1936) and Carl Verbraeken (1950) for exemple.
This last one made compositions of which some titels are most appropriate to the Tour, such as ‘Frustration’, ‘Inner Joy’, ‘Congratulations’ and – when unavoidable falls occur – ‘I wear your wounds’.
More famous is the Antwerp composer Lodewijk Mortelmans (1868-1952), nicknamed as 'the flemish Brahms'. Mortelmans was for the Antwerp music scene, what Willem Mengelberg meant for the one in Amsterdam. He invited composers such as Mahler, Strauss and Rachmaninov to his city to conduct their works and stood himself on the stand next to famous solists such as cellist Pablo Casals and violist Pablo de Sarasate.
He really did put Antwerp on the map. He loved competition, which appears while he became one of the founders of the Ysaÿe Concours, which later became the Queen Elisabeth competition.
The third stage ends at the well-known steep Wall of Huy, a town where composer Lambert Chaumont (1630-1712) spent his last fourty years of his life as a priest. It is in the Ardennes where he wrote his magnificient organ music. Musicologists today still are amazed of the high quality of his works.


* Monday 24 DECEMBER 2012 - Klassiek Centraal - critics

Lodewijk Mortelmans
Peter Vanhove, piano - Yuriy Mynenko, countertenor

In 95% of the time when you hear the name of Lodewijk Mortelmans on the radio, we talk of
‘Het Wielewaalt en het Leeuwerkt’, as if this man hardly composed any other pianowork.
Pavane Records ADW 7547
Nomination Golden Label: Als de ziele luistert - PDF in Dutch


* Zondag 20 MAART 2011 - 11:00

Plaats : Koningin Elisabethzaal - Antwerpen

* Zaterdag 19 MAART 2011 - 20:00

Plaats : Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal - Antwerpen

* Vrijdag 18 MAART 2011 - 20:00

Plaats : Muziekcentrum De Bijloke - Gent
Raadselachtig concert met Martyn Brabbins - deFilharmonie
Martyn Brabbins, dirigent
Paul Watkins, cello
Program :
Lodewijk Mortelmans - Mythe der Lente, Symfonisch Gedicht
William Walton - Celloconcerto
Edward Elgar - Enigmavariaties, Op.36


* SEPTEMBER 2010 - Extract of 'Flanders Today'

Flanders Today, a free weekly English-language newspaper, is an initiative of the Flemish Region.


Saturday 23 OCTOBER 2010 - DeSingel Antwerpen - Vocaal Collectief
Lodewijk Mortelmans : Fantasy Dance - Mythe der Lente
LINK: Agenda 2010
At the turn of the 20th century, Europe’s division into great Imperial power blocs resulted in the emergence of a nationalistic spirit in smaller regions, including, of course, Belgium – and, it hardly needs adding, Flanders within it.
All sought political, economic and cultural self-determination. Each new geographical entity wanted - and needed - its own literature, dance, music. In Belgium, for example, Art Nouveau became the signature national architecture.
Music in Flanders concentrated largely around the Antwerp Conservatory and its formidable head of composition, Peter Benoit. The favourite pupil of this musical patriarch was a young man from Antwerp named Lodewijk Mortelmans (1868-1952) whose Homerische Symphonie (Homeric Symphony), now recorded by the British independent label Hyperion, allows us to witness the birth of the Flemish symphony, as well as serving as a milestone in Belgian cultural evolution.
There's little notably Flemish-sounding about this grandiloquent, hour-long musical of episodes from the Iliad. Another composer, August de Boeck, was more adept at incorporating folk and popular tunes into his music. But Mortelmans' symphony is important for marking a decisive break with the French influence of vocal writing, and thus embodied the Flemish cultural resistance as a whole.
Mortelmans' Flemish pride did not stop him from accepting the award as winner of the Belgian category of France's greatest composition prize, the Prix de Rome, in 1893. But he was ever dedicated to Flanders, drawing up never-realised plans for a Flemish operatic festival along the lines of Wagner's annual bash at Bayreuth in Bavaria. Hyperion's CD, featuring the Royal Flemish Orchestra under the baton of the adventurous British maestro Martyn Brabbins, is not the first appearance of Mortelmans' music in commercial recordings.
The now defunct Discover International label commissioned some of his orchestral works in the early 1990s, as did the Naxos company, including the Mythe der lente (Myth of Spring) and Morgenstemming (Morning Mood), also heard here.
Flemish radio stations like Klara have also recorded Mortelmans' works, and one enterprising fan has even uploaded clips of performances of the composer's rare-as-hen's-teeth piano miniatures to YouTube. Is it too much to hope that a Flemish body will do what it's taken a British record label to do and dust off some of these hidden treasures? Mortelmans could certainly make a joyful noise, and it's time the whole country made a bit more of a din about this first Belgian symphonist.

* Thursday 14 JANUARY 2010

Lyrik und Ebenmaß : der Symphoniker Lodewijk Mortelmans wiederentdeckt
Poetry and symmetry: the Symphony Works of Lodewijk Mortelmans rediscovered
Translation :
Finally, Lodewijk Mortelman's Belgian debut as Belgium's first outstanding symphony orchestra will be given 'discographic honours'.
Two of the works recorded here, 'Homeric Symphony' (1898) and 'Morgenstemming' (1922), have also appeared in recent years in the series 'Repertoire Explorer' in study score, which proves the dissemination and verifiability of the results of immense services. Mortelmans was a pupil of Peter Benoit, the 'father of Flemish music', who with his sacred magnum opus 'Hoogmis' had set high standards of conservative character.
An article by Christoph Schlüren - Edition: 12-2009 - Volume 58
Mortelmans' house gods were Bach, Beethoven and Wagner, and this is clearly audible. Wagner's melodies and harmony, in particular, have left their mark - in a soothed, perfectly crafted manner. In the 'Homeric Symphony', the three-quarters of an hour's masterpiece, Mortelmans proves to be a rapturous poet of classical symmetry and builds the grand architecture with extreme economy from a minimum of thematic material. A moderately heroic, heartfelt, hymnically luminous and generously conceived opening movement is followed by a tragic lento as the centrepiece of the work, which in its objectively archaic mettle becomes a captivating funeral march and in its pure beauty and size develops a seemingly endless carrying capacity of the inner tension.
This is followed by a deliberately ephemeral, gently ornamental, art nouveau siren scherzo with a moving trio and a majestic, triumphant, noble finale that, despite all its splendour, never changes into affirmative expression. Included are two symphonic poems, the early 'Mythe der lente' (1895) with a pantheistic-fantastic program borrowed from the Edda, and certainly with romantic drama, and the late 'Morgenstemming' - pure sensual painting in solid yet fluidly gliding form, a play of predominantly natural-intimate colours and moods, embedded in a clear motivic-harmonic structure and - comparable to the Austrian Joseph Marx or the lyrical creations of Respighis - in the basic product a symbiosis of melancholy and lightness like a budding, dreamed echo of lost times. The Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Martyn Brabbins plays a dignified role in a transparent, splendid sound.
Lodewijk Mortelmans: Homerische Symphonie, Morgenstemming, Mythe der lente; Martyn Brabbins dir. Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra. HYPERION CDA 67766 (Vertr. Codaex)  -  More info: Hyperion Records  -


* NOVEMBER 2009 - From

CD-critics : Mortelmans: Homerische symfonie – Morgenstemming – Mythe der lente
Koninklijke Vlaamse Filharmonie - Martyn Brabbins, conductor
..This is the first CD of the ‘Royal Flemish Philharmonic’ on the Hyperion label.
Conductor Martyn Brabbins and the Orchestra – deFilharmonie – have previously worked together.
As on this disc, hard work went into it, and the result sounds like wonderful.
© Siebe Riedstra, november 2009


* 9 MAY 2007 - The Ottawa Citizen - Canada

Dorian Prince, European Commission's ambassador to Canada
Dorian Prince and Margaret Lysak will perform a free concert May 11 2007 at 8 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 140 Laurier Ave, sponsored by the Ottawa Chamber Music Society
There are some surprises, however :
In the second half, on piano, he will accompany the soprano Margaret Lysak in Belgian composer Lodewijk Mortelmans - Het wielewaalt en leeuwerkt, a song that mimics the sound of two birds playing on the beach at Antwerp. Prince believes that Mortelmans, who taught and influenced the French impressionist composers Debussy and Ravel, is sadly unappreciated today.
'You know, 30 years ago I met his granddaughter, and she gave me his complete piano works, and I fell in love with them. Mortelmans was a great original, and was a real link between Wagner and the impressionists.'
'And this lovely, charming little piece we're playing is not as famous as it ought to be.'
© CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.


* Vlaamse Meesterwerken (Flemisch Masterpieces) - (september 2004)

An extract of the article by Gerard Van Der Leeuw, 'Actiekrant artEZ nr 161' of the Conservatoiry of Zwolle in the Netherlands.
Translation :
Honestly speaking, ever heard of Lodewijk Mortelmans?
If you already heard speaking of him, it must be as composer of songs. But his symphonic poems, his opera 'De Kinderen der Zee' (The Children of the Sea), never heard? Well, I can tell you miss something
Lucky a flemish company who's not blinded by any daily illusion, who steadily continues to launch magnificent recordings of unknown or hardly played works.. we're talking of Phaedra, and of their series In Flanders' fields. I was listening to their album Nr.33 of this series, covering works of Lodewijk Mortelmans for orchestra. As i carried on listening, as it went on, my admiration turned into total surprise. I heard a magnificent music, inspiring, well orchestrated with depth and enthousiasm, as rare as possible coming from this calm countries. If you only listen to 'de Dageraad en Zonsopgang' of his opera 'De kinderen der Zee', the absolute top!!
Why in the name of our muses this music remains so unknown?


* ONS ERFDEEL 1981 - 1968 - 1952

- Guido Gezelle in de muziek - (Hugo Heughebaert) Ons Erfdeel - 1981, nr 1, pp. 124-126
- Lodewijk Mortelmans herdacht - (Hugo Heughebaert) Ons Erfdeel - 1968, nr 4, pp. 156-157
- Lodewijk Mortelmans († 1952) - (Jozef Deleu) Ons Erfdeel - 1962, nr 4, pp. 69
© Ons Erfdeel


* Perspective of Flemish music

Prof. Dr. Floris Van Der Mueren (°02.11.1890 - †23.12.1966)

Mortelmans has been a contemplative nature which for his songs has been guided naturally to Gezelle texts, of which he has sung the poetic essence in melodies based on a harmonization filled with mood, some of which must not give way to the noblest of what this genre has to offer in world literature. His piano compositions are for the pianist grateful literature full of poetry.
In the expression of his problems he has therefore reached heights in various symphonic works that bring him a moment near the greatest.
In particular, his' In Memoriam' is a chunk of reflection which, in a consistent repetition in which every grief motive, stripped of every pathos, is expanded and flanked by a funeral march rhythm that is captivating in its simplicity, achieves an expressive irresistibility that, in analogous points of attention, was not surpassed either by Beethoven or Wagner.


* Het algemeen Handelsblad

Translation :
And I don't know any songs, in which the music and the word sound as intimately and harmoniously as they do in the songs of Mortelmans, which are among the most beautiful that we possess here in Flanders..

* De Nieuwe Gazet

Translation :
Far too little known, what a treasure of Lieder, real gems all of which have been composed by Lodewijk Mortelmans..

* Het Nederlandsch Toneel

He makes Lieder like Beethoven, Schubert, Grieg, and others understood it..
They come close to the Wagnerideal; poem and music complement and reinforce each other..

* Kunst voor het volk (Art for the people)

Mortelmans is a composer, his muse does not sing common subjects, he is not oppresssed by the small daily things. The free open nature with its infinite richness of colour, in which he lived so gragely, has made him a painter: the immensity that surrounds him, when he is alone with thoughts, has carried his poetic soul to the higher..


* From the series 'Meesters der Toonkunst' (Masters of Music) - 1965-1966

part 5: August De Boeck by M. Pols
Translation :
But Benoit's most splendid pupil in undeniably Lodewijk Mortelmans, whose name enjoyed a good sound in Flemish music of his time, not only because of his numerous symphonic works and the opera 'De Kinderen der Zee' (The Children of the Sea( (converted into comedy by the composer himself), but more particularly because of his very subtle and profound songs after poems by Guido Gezelle, Hugo Verriest and Pol de Mont. In his generation, Mortelmans represented the first name of style. Everything he left behind bears the stamp of a solid personality and of a desire for flawlessness in design..


* Sommets de la Musique (Music Summits) - Casper Höweler - 1949

Conclusion :
Mortelmans is one of the most important figures in Flemish music. Rather classical than romantic of temperament, he is a man who attaches great importance to the formal. Although Romanticism was his starting point, Mortelmans did not allow himself to be carried away, but rather he sent his music with a lot of willpower to become more clear and elegant. Even the pieces he wrote in the style of continuity have a strong structure, and never fall into the unrealism of anarchic chromatism.
His work is inspired by a great lyricism, tempered by his strong logical spirit. This is his character, inclined to contemplative serenity, to transform the great passions of the soul into rest and light.
The lyrical, intimate atmosphere is what stands out in his work, and what gives him his place in the history of Flemish music. Only he could speak with the same disarming simplicity as Gezelle, about the secrets of the soul, when she quietly wants to listen and sing with herself..


* Letter from Charles Van den Borren dated 27th of february 1938

(journalist of several newspapers)
Translation :
I am very sorry not to be able to be present to celebrate the most sensitive among Flemish composers, a truly modern Schumann and the most penetrating interpreter of Guido Gezelle's spirit..


* Extracts of a letter by Guillaume Lekeu adressed to Lodewijk Mortelmans in february 1892

Translation :
Finally I can write you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for the gift, so entirely artistic, that you addressed to me.
I find your melodies admirable of purity, simplicity, expression and above all of a sincere accent that is very rare today. All five are very interesting... but above all there are 2 masterpieces (the word is not too strong, because these two Lieder are perfect in form and feeling), I want to talk about the 'Twee Betuwsche Liederen'. It is impossible for me to prefer one to the other because in this music there is really not one note too many. The alternation of the major and minor modes is astonishingly expressive and, at each note, it is a harmonic find, despite the apparent simplicity of the writing.
No wonder your Lied 'De Bloemen en de Sterren' (The Flowers and the Stars) won first prize in Roeselare, is that the jury has been absolutely fair there - because there is no musician in Belgium who can write 3 pages so pure of feeling and so sparkling of musical form - it's a really surprising ease of realisation and, moreover, it's beautifully constructed.



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