Huberti, Gustave

Brussel, 14/04/1843 > Schaarbeek, 28/06/1910


Huberti, Gustave

by Jan Dewilde

Already at age sixteen, Gustave Huberti graduated at the Brussels Conservatory with five first prizes, including a first prize of composition with the director François-Joseph Fétis.

In 1865 he won the Prix de Rome with the cantata La fille de Jepthé, upon which he stayed in Germany for three years. There his compositions included the cycle Wanderlieder (Travel Songs) on poetry by Johann Uhland, dedicated to his friend Emiel Blauwaert, a prominent singer. Subsequently, he worked in Italy on a Histoire de la musique religieuse des Italiens et des Néerlandais (History of the Sacred Music of the Italians and of the Low Countries).

Back in Belgium, he got acquainted with Emanuel Hiel and through him with Peter Benoit and the Flemish Movement in music as a whole. Huberti became a confirmed believer in Benoit's nationalist doctrine and composed a number of works on (Dutch) texts by Hiel, such as the oratorio Een laatste zonnestraal (A last Sunray 1870), Willem van Oranjes dood (The Death of William of Orange, a cantata for a masonic rite in 1878), the male choral song Van Maerlantszang and several other songs.

After having been director of the Music School at Mons for some years (1874-1877), Huberti was appointed as inspector of music in the Antwerp municipal schools system. At that time he wrote compositions for children, among them, again on a text by Hiel, the oratorio Kinderlast en Leed (Children's Burden and Sorrow). In Antwerp he conducted the Grisar Choir and at the World Exhibition of 1885 he participated in the musical performances, for instance conducting Alexander Borodin's second symphony. As an early Wagner fan he accompanied Blauwaert at the piano in Villa Wahnfried during the Bayreuther Festspiele of 1889, in fragments from Benoit's De Oorlog (The War) as well as in some songs of his own.

Despite his francophone roots Huberti is considered as a Flemish composer: at the tenth anniversary celebration of De Distel in 1891, along with the music of Richard Wagner there were performances of the works of Flemish composers such as Edgar Tinel, Benoit, Willem de Mol and Huberti.

In 1893 Huberti became director of the Music School of Sint-Joost-ten-Node, where he programmed works by Benoit and Jan Blockx. His main orchestral compositions include the symphonic poem Hymne à la science (Hymn to Science, for the 25th anniversary of the 'Université Libre de Bruxelles'), Triomffeest (Triumphal Feast, for organ and orchestra), a piano concerto and the Symphonie funèbre (Funeral Symphony), influenced by Hector Berlioz.

Concurrently Huberti also wrote music reviews for various periodicals. In his function as leader of the Muziekfeesten der Onderrichtsbond (Music Feasts of the Teachers Society), of the Vlaamsche Kunstkring (Flemish Art Society) and director of the Music School at Sint-Joost-ten-Node he devoted himself to the performance on the Brussels concert scene of the works of Flemish composers.

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