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Preud' homme, Armand

Peer, 21/02/1904 > Brasschaat, 07/02/1986


Preud'homme, Armand

by Jan Dewilde

After his studies at the Limburg organ school of Arthur Meulemans and at the Lemmens Institute with Jules Van Nuffel, Marinus de Jong and Flor Peeters, Armand Preud'homme was organist in Geel from 1930 to 1943.

In the footsteps of Emiel Hullebroeck, Preud'homme composed music theatre and hundreds of popular songs. His favourite lyricists were Jozef Simons (Susa Nina, Heimwee doet ons hart verlangen, Voor outer en heerd) and Eugeen de Ridder, whose texts include the operetta librettos for Mijn heerlijk Kempenland and Op de purp'ren hei (My lovely Campine Country and On the Purple Heath). The latter musical comedy was his most popular one and was also performed at the Royal Flemish Opera (KVO). Ever recurring themes in his work were the solidarity with the people and the nostalgia for his native region.

His most famous song is Kempenland, for which the music already dated from 1938 though Simons wrote the text only during the war. Because of the line "Kempenland aan de Dietse kroon" (Campine country at the greater Dutch crown) and the martial character, it was used as a marching song by many paramilitary societies during the Second World War.

In 1943 Preud'homme became director of the music school in Mortsel. After the war he was confronted with the repression, upon which he spent years working as organist in cinemas and restaurants and as accompanist of the Antwerp St Lieven's Choir. As a reminder of this period he later wrote an Amnestiemis (Amnesty Mass). From 1957 to 1968 he was a music teacher in Hasselt. He was also a frequent conductor at several Flemish nationalistic manifestations. Yet in 1967 he even refused to cooperate with the Flemish National Song Festival as he resented his songs being supplanted by cabaret songs. He also thought that the choral federation of the General Dutch Song Society (ANZ) put too great an emphasis on the early popular song and polyphony to the detriment of his own popular music. Still it is true that he tried to revamp himself by writing songs for cabaret singers such as Will Ferdy and Miel Cools.

His work was propagated by the Armand Preud'homme Committee and the Armand Preud'homme Foundation, which published the periodical Eigen Aard and recorded his songs. At the initiative of the association Flemish Cultural Productions, a bronze statue of Preud'homme was erected in 1981 in the Hasselt city park, which met with fierce reactions from the National Confederation of Political Prisoners and Claimants. Shortly after the inauguration the statue was heavily damaged by a bomb attack.

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