Though his foster parents had predestined him to the tailoring profession, Frans Boogaerts' musical talent didn't pass unnoticed in the pub in Lier where he grew up as an orphan. He was a self-educated 17-year-old when in 1905 he enrolled at the Conservatory of Antwerp. Among his teachers there were Jan Blockx, Emiel Wambach and Arthur De Hovre, and in 1908 he obtained the first prize for solfège, later also for organ as well as the Callaerts prize in 1910 and the harmony prize in 1912. Already in 1910 - before graduating – he had also founded an a capella choir in Lier, but the successes he scored with it were broken off by the war. Lier was hard hit by bombardments and also Boogaerts’ possessions went up in flames. To support the soldiers at the front he organised several concerts and in 1916 he composed the song Vadervreugde (Paternal Bliss), ‘an ardent greeting to a prisoner of war in Soltau’. In June 1926 his cantata Onze Torens (Our Towers) was performed in Lier, on the occasion of the inauguration of the ‘Monument for the soldiers of Lier killed in action’. At the inauguration ceremony of the Zimmertoren in 1930 this music was programmed again. Bogaerts is also assumed to have accompanied silent movies at the piano in cinema De Roskam.
Other songs of his also include Vlaanderen, Scheldezang, Zelfvertrouwen, Morgenlied, Moeder, Voor ’t lieveken (Flanders, Song of the River Scheldt, Self-confidence, Morning Song, Mother, For the Sweetheart); they were published in series such as those of De Ring (Berchem), the Willemsfonds and Het Vlaamsche Lied. In Lier his Lied van Carnaval is still well-known. Furthermore may be mentioned some choral works and Masses, a mazurka for piano, Vlinders (Butterflies), a festive march for wind and percussion band, Hymnus aan de Zon (Hymn to the Sun) and Nieuwe Mei (New May) for choir and orchestra, as well as an arrangement of the lyrical-dramatic theatrical fairy-tale Ridder Arnold (Knight Arnold) for chamber orchestra.
He was appointed in 1922 as the first director of the music academy of Lier, where he also taught clavier lessons himself and where in 1951 he was succeeded by Jos Van Looy. Around 1936 he was chairman of the choir De Vlaamse Leeuw. By organising free concert evenings he also introduced classical music to the less well-off listeners. As organist and Kapellmeister he was attached to the Kluizekerk (a Dominican church).
© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek - Annelies Focquaert (translation: Jo Sneppe)