De Swert, Jules

Leuven, 15/08/1843 > Oostende, 24/02/1891


De Swert, Jules

by Jan Dewilde

Stimulated by his father, a singing teacher, already at the age of eight Jules De Swert publicly performed as a child prodigy. In 1856 he enrolled in the Conservatory of Brussels, where two years later in the class of Servais he obtained his first prize for cello. This was the start of a great international career leading him all over Europe. Around 1868 he was the violoncellist of the duke of Saxen-Coburg-Weimar, subsequently becoming the royal 'Konzertmeister' of the king of Prussia.

Between his activities as a cello virtuoso he also composed. On 2 October 1878 his first opera, Die Albigenser, was created in Sonnenberg in Wiesbaden. This opera was later also performed in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Strasbourg, Antwerp and Ghent. In 1874 Richard Wagner asked him as cello-soloist at the Bayreuther Festspiele. Three years later he became soloist at the court in Vienna. After great successes in Berlin and London he arrived in Ostend in 1888. He was appointed as director of the Municipal School of Music in that city and also as professor at the Municipal Conservatory in Bruges as well as the Royal Conservatory in Ghent.

In Ostend De Swert became second conductor of the Kursaal orchestra. In this position he conducted on 12 September 1889 his symphonic poem Nordseefahrt (North Sea Voyage), inspired by Heine. Insofar as his activities allowed him, he still gave concerts abroad. In 1890 he wrote the opera Piccolino, which was created in the Royal Theatre at The Hague.

In addition to his compositions, De Swert is also the author of the three-volume cello method Gradus ad Parnassum ou le Mécanisme moderne du violoncelle.

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