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Blaes, Eduard

Gent, 19/11/1846 > Gent, 12/12/1909


Blaes, Eduard

by Jan Dewilde

Eduard Blaes began his music studies at the Ghent Conservatory, where he obtained first prizes for solfège (1861), bassoon (1866) and harmony (1867), the latter with Karel Miry. Subsequently he went to the Brussels Conservatory for counterpoint and fugue with François-Joseph Fétis. There he obtained a second prize. Later he also studied with Peter Benoit in Antwerp.

Even during his studies he published his first compositions. At the age of seventeen he wrote the song De zegen eener moeder (A Mother's Bliss), in 1866 Het ware vaderland (The True Homeland) was published and three years later Liefdepeerlen (Love Pearls), a collection of six songs.

In 1873 he competed in the Prize of Rome. With the cantata Christoffel Columbus he received an honourable mention. In 1875 again he tried his luck, but this time he was not cited.

In Ghent Blaes particularly distinguished himself as a conductor. As such he directed the Willems-Genootschap and Van Crombrugghes Genootschap music societies, with whom he performed his choral works De jacht (The Hunt) and De heidens (The Heathens). He was bandmaster at St Bavo's Cathedral (1873-1877), conductor of the Vlaamse Schouwburg (The Flemish Theatre Minard) and of the Artisten-Muzikanten (Artists-Musicians Society). Further he participated in the Willemsfonds Volksvoordrachten (Liberal Fund Popular Recitals). For his commitment to choral life in Ghent the art society Rust Roest ('Rest Rusts') paid tribute to Blaes on 6 February 1898. His colleague Oscar Roels gave the occasional speech.

Blaes was a highly esteemed music pedagogue. Thus he was music teacher at the Ghent municipal schools, teacher (1878) and director (1885) of the school of music at Ledeberg (near Ghent), and bassoon teacher (1879) as well as teacher of orchestral musical performance (1900) at the Ghent Conservatory. As a bassoon player in the Ghent opera he was indeed very much experienced in the field.

As a composer Blaes mainly received attention with vocal music. His compositions include Aan Gent (six songs To Ghent) and Lenteliederen (a collection of eleven Springtime Songs) on texts of Theophiel Coopman. He also wrote plenty of choral works, particularly for male-voice choirs, with titles such as Gent, Vlaanderen, Vooruit de Geus (Onward Protestant Beggar), Heil Vlaanderen, De broedergroet (Brothers' Greetings), and Hymne aan de toekomst (Hymn to the Future, with fanfare accompaniment, 1883).

On behalf of choral conductors and choral singers Blaes published Verhandeling over koorzang (Treatise on Choral Singing).

In 1906 he was knighted in the Leopold Order.

© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek vzw - Jan Dewilde (translation: Jo Sneppe)