Duvosel, Lieven

Gent, 14/12/1877 > Sint-Martens-Latem, 20/04/1956


Duvosel, Lieven

by Jan Dewilde

After his studies at the Conservatories of Ghent and Antwerp Lieven Duvosel moved to Paris, where he studied at the Conservatoire between 1904 and 1908 with Widor (organ), Lenepveu (counterpoint) and Fauré (composition). In addition, Duvosel took some courses at the 'Université Libre'.

Even though he earned a lot of success as a conductor and composer in Paris, he returned to Ghent in 1908. There he became a conductor of several music societies as well as music teacher at the city schools. He also contributed to the song evenings of the 'Willemsfonds'. During the First World War he supported the Flemish nationalistic cause of "activism". In 1916 he composed the Strijdlied der Vlaamsche nationalisten (Militant Song of the Flemish Nationalists) and he conducted at the founding event of the Flemish university in Ghent. He became a member of the 'Vlaamsch-Nationale Partij' (VNP). Mid 1917 he was the conductor of the choir and the orchestra of a music society financed by the Germans. Furthermore a choir of six hundred singers performed under his baton at the centenary of the University of Ghent, organized by the student society 'Hou ende Trou' at the Dutch Theatre (3 November 1917).

After the war Duvosel took the road of exile to Düsseldorf, where about forty activist refugees had gathered in October 1918. By the end of 1918 he was dismissed as a music teacher. Duvosel stayed for three years in Berlin, where he was in touch with Richard Strauss and Arthur Nikisch, both of them conducting some of his works (with the Berliner Philharmoniker, among others). Nikisch introduced him at the music publishers Breitkopf & Härtel, resulting in the publication of several works.

From 1920 to 1940 he lived in the Netherlands, where he conducted a number of important orchestral, choral and oratorio societies. In this period he completed his five-part Leiecyclus (for soloists, choirs, organ and large orchestra), having toiled at it from 1902 to 1923.

In 1940 he returned to Belgium, enjoying in November of that year celebrations of his activist commitment during the First World War by 'Het Muziekfonds' (The Music Fund) and 'Zender Brussel' (the Flemish Radio controlled by the Nazis). In the following year he conducted at the opera in Ghent a concert for the 'Kultuurdagen van de Duitsch-Vlaamsche Arbeidsgemeenschap' (a collaborationist party).

In addition to symphonic compositions, choral works and art songs he also wrote a number of battle songs and choirs. He also adapted songs by René de Clercq, a bardic poet, ending up in conflict when the latter claimed full authorship of those songs. After the war Duvosel conducted again at the Flemish National Song Festivals of 1949, 1950, and 1951.

© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek vzw - Jan Dewilde (translation: Joris Duytschaever)