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Ghesquiere, Remi

Geluwe, 09/12/1866 > Brugge, 10/08/1964


Ghesquière, Remi

by Jan Dewilde

After gaining the degree of sexton-teacher at the Torhout Teachers' Training College in 1884, Ghesquiere became organist at the Kortrijk (Courtrai) Church of Our Lady a year later. At that time the eminent poet Guido Gezelle was assistant priest of the parish. In Kortrijk, together with René Vermandere and Léonce du Castillon, he founded the Groeninghe Guild, which was devoted to erecting a memorial on the Groeninghe field (Battle of the Spurs, 1302, victory over the French). His Flemish commitment was also manifest in the weekly contribution he wrote for the Gazette van Kortrijk. Meanwhile he studied at the Ghent Conservatory, where in 1888 he obtained a first prize for organ. In 1890 Ghesquiere was appointed as a music teacher at the Torhout Teachers' Training College and four years later he became organist in his native village. There he founded the 'Vlaamsche Zangersgilde', a 'Vlaamsche Bond' and a music school, where he organised concerts that made the public familiar with Flemish music as well as the international repertoire.

The war circumstances urged Ghesquiere to move to Halle, where the Basilica of Our Lady engaged him as an organist until 1945. In this community he was active as well both in the 'Vlaamsche Bond' and the 'Vlaamsche Meisjesbond' (Flemish Girls Association). In 1923 he founded 'De zingende meisjes van Halle', a combined singing and dance group based on the music pedagogics of the Swiss Emile Jaques-Dalcroze.

Next to organ music and piano works he composed vocal music, exclusively in the framework of the (catholic) Flemish Movement, mostly with a pedagogical, militant or religious dimension. This vocal oeuvre includes liturgical pieces, spiritual songs, often on texts by Gezelle, such as O Maria die daar staat (Oh Mary Standing There), choral work, militant songs such as the popular De trommel slaat (The Drum Beats), lyrical children's plays, cantatas and lyrical dramas. Ghesquiere had a special skill in writing catchy tunes within a limited tessitura, supported by a traditional harmony.

He also published a four-step piano method. For his Flemish children's plays The Royal Flemish Academy granted him an award.

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