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Beeckman, Eugène

Antwerpen, 01/09/1889 > Antwerpen, 02/01/1982


Beeckman, Eugène

by Adeline Boeckaert

The Antwerp composer Eugène Beeckman received his musical education at the Royal Flemish Conservatory of his native town, obtaining the degrees in musical theory and horn. In 1905 he began his professional career as a horn player, being a member then of the orchestra attached to the Flemish Opera. Two years later he migrated to France where he proved his mettle as a horn player in several orchestras, making concert tours in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt. During the First World War he relocated to the Netherlands and increasingly applied himself to conducting. In 1916 Beeckman became conductor of opera, operetta and variety shows in various venues such as the Amsterdam 'Theater Carré', the 'Scala Theater' in The Hague, the Rotterdam 'Soesman Theater' as well as the 'Theater Flora' in Hamburg. Thus Beeckman managed to secure a place for himself in the circle of conductors of light music. In between conducting he committed himself as artistic director in his native town of the revue theatres 'Ancienne Belgique', 'Femina' and 'Hacienda'.

As a composer he scored his greatest successes with operettas, his best-known musical comedy Tangolita (1919) boasting over a hundred performances. But also his Edelweisskoning, Tropendal (Tropical Valley), Azora, Madame Pretentie, Napoleon and Madame Sans-Gêne were very successful at that time. In 1976 he was awarded the prize for chanson by the copyright society SABAM. Titles such as In de hemel is geen bier (In Heaven there is no Beer), Het meisje op de tram (The Girl on the Tram) and Op St.-Anneke woont Marianneke (Little Marianne lives at little St Anne - a river resort on the Antwerp left bank) show that also in his song production Beeckman mainly opted for the genre of light entertainment. Occasionally he hazarded to compose symphonic music as well, witness his Carpentier marche (1913) and his symphonic poem Antwerpen (1958).

© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek vzw - Adeline Boeckaert (translation: Jo Sneppe)