Franciscus Amandus Agemans (Hagemans) was born in Kasterlee in the Antwerp Campine region. According to his biographer Sneyers he descended from a musical family and was initiated into music by the Dutch organist Andries Van Berckel (1808-?), who was sexton-organist as well as schoolteacher in Beerse. For his lessons the young boy was prepared to set off for a weekly three-hour hike from Kasterlee to Beerse. Later he took organ lessons in Turnhout with Jozef Robson, to whom he dedicated a part of his first organ composition. From about 1860 on he received musical training from Father Van den Bogaert, a White Canon, who had become organist at Averbode Abbey in 1859 and whose teachers at that time were Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens and Jozef Tilborghs. In 1865 Agemans founded the choral society 'De Kunstminnaars' (The Art Lovers) in Kasterlee, where he took an active part as church organist, choral conductor and music teacher, for piano, organ as well as violin. However, he frequently suffered from severe headaches and gradually his hearing became heavily impaired. His weak constitution led to his premature death at the age of 35. With Agemans the choir also disappeared, yet when in 1879 a new brass and percussion band was founded in Kasterlee, it adopted the banner and the name of 'De Kunstminnaars'.
Some of Agemans' harmonium and organ works have been published, among them 11 Stukjes voor orgel of harmonium (11 Short Pieces for Organ or Harmonium) in 1869 and Quatre pièces pour orgue ou harmonium. In 1946 a few of his religious works, choral works and songs had been preserved in the archives of 'De Kunstminnaars': biographer Sneyers mentions for example a Tantum ergo and choral works such as Aan de Nethe in de Kempen, De Vlaamsche Kreet, Kermislied, … (At the Campine river Nethe, The Flemish Cry, Fun Fair Song, ...). The present archives indeed still contain some song collections with choral works of Agemans. The majority of his religious music and occasional works had already been lost by 1946.
© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek vzw - Annelies Focquaert (translation: Jo Sneppe)