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Roels, Oscar

Gent, 02/11/1864 > Gent, 29/10/1939


Roels, Oscar

by Jan Dewilde

Even while still a student at the Ghent Royal Conservatory, where Karel Miry and the director Adolphe Samuel were among his teachers, he was already an organist at the Jesuits' church in his native city and later also at Saint Barbara's school.

For almost the whole of his career, from 1881 to 1930, Roels was a teacher at the Ghent Conservatory, where he also conducted the Conservatory choir and orchestra. Roels was an excellent conductor, active both at the Ghent Opera house and in the Dutch Theatre. On the occasion of the opening of the latter on 1 October 1899 he conducted the creation in situ of his lyrical drama De witte kaproenen (The White Hoods). Other works he composed for the Dutch Theatre include Clodwig en Clothildis, and Achter 't slot (Behind the Lock). In his function of first conductor he strongly dedicated himself to the work of Flemish colleagues such as Jan Blockx, Jozef Van der Meulen and Hendrik Waelput.

Roels also conducted for various Ghent choral and concert societies. With the 'Société Royale des Mélomanes' he gave concerts that were exclusively devoted to the German, French and Flemish schools, in imitation of Benoit.

Roels wrote quite a lot of choral pieces, many of which in combination with symphonic works for orchestra or brass band. Among his most famous works figure the oratorio De Vlaamsche Nacht (The Flemish Night), Zangersgroet (Singer's Greetings), which was executed by 2900 performers on 13 July 1902 on the Ghent Friday Market Square, and the lyrical drama Pinksternacht (Whitsun Night), created on 7 March 1908 in the Antwerp Flemish Opera.

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