Miry, Karel

Gent, 14/08/1823 > Gent, 05/10/1889


Miry, Karel

by Jan Dewilde

After his studies at the Conservatory of Ghent, Karel Miry continued studying with François-Auguste Gevaert in Brussels and later also in Paris.

Miry led several Ghent theatrical and music societies, such as 'Broedermin en Taelyver' (Fraternal Love and Language Zeal) and the Melomanen (Music Lovers), and also conducted in the Grand Théâtre in Ghent and in the Waux-Hall in Brussels.

In 1851 the Ghent 'Société Royale des Beaux-Arts' awarded a prize to an overture and a choral work of Miry's and in 1853 he won the prize of the 'Nederduitsch Taelverbond' (Low German Language Union) with three choral compositions.

In 1871 he became assistant director of the Ghent Conservatory, where since 1857 he also counted among his students Hendrik Waelput and Florimond van Duyse. In the Ghent municipal schools he was music teacher and from 1875 also music inspector. In this capacity he wrote hundreds of children's songs and choruses.

Miry was widely known for his many operas, operettas, vaudevilles and lyrical dramas, on texts by people like Hippoliet van Peene, Napoleon Destanberg and Hendrik Conscience. Several francophone works were also performed very successfully in Brussels and Liège, such as his opera Bouchard d'Avesnes on a libretto by Van Peene.  Some of his Dutch lyrical dramas sing the praises of Flanders' past, for example Maria van Bourgondië (Mary of Burgundy) and Breidel en de Coninc.

Miry has contributed considerably to the development of the Flemish opera, but he mainly lives on in memory as the composer of the battle song De Vlaemsche Leeuw (The Lion of Flanders). Initially the song had to compete for the public favour with Het Vaderland (The Fatherland) by Jan J. de Laet. By decree of 6 July 1973 Miry's song became the official national anthem of the Flemish Community.

Furthermore Miry composed plenty of romances and songs on French and Dutch texts, as well as cantatas, including Conscience's tuin (Conscience's Garden) on a text by Emanuel Hiel and La Belgique ou le règne de 25 ans (Belgium or the 25 Year Kingdom), for Leopold I.

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