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Van Oost, Arthur

Leuven, 12/09/1870 > Brussel, 23/04/1942


Van Oost, Arthur

by Jan Dewilde

Arthur Van Oost started his music education with Emile Mathieu at the Municipal Conservatory of his native town Leuven. Subsequently he continued his studies at the conservatories of Brussels (Joseph Dupont) and Antwerp (Jan Blockx). From 1889 to 1913 he was a teacher at the Leuven school of music and at the age of 24 he was appointed as director of the school of music in Diest, a position he held until 1928. For some time he was also conductor of the ‘Grande Harmonie’ in Brussels. Van Oost mainly became known for his compositions of lyrical dramas and operettas.  The lyrical drama Lika was created on 4 January 1898 in the Antwerp Opera. One year later, on 24 January 1899, this was followed by Het minnebrugje (The little Bridge of Love, on a libretto by Raf Verhulst), and later also Het paradijs (Paradise, 1905), Rozemarijntje (Little Rosemary, 1910) and De twee medaillons (The two Medallions, 1933).

Van Oost gained enormous popularity indeed with his operetta De zingende molens (The singing windmills) on a libretto by Fonson and Wicheler. The work was created in 1911 in the ‘Théâtre des Galeries’ in Brussels and became an international hit: it was performed in various countries including The Netherlands, France (under the title Les moulins qui chantent) and, as The love Mills, in England, the United States and Canada. In 1924 the 500th performance was celebrated in Liège.

Following the success of De zingende molens Van Oost chiefly wrote lyrical dramas on French texts: Beulemans marie sa fille, Joyeux exil, La flûte de Pan, Le cousin de Poperinghe, Les deux médaillons and Sonnettes (Beulemans Marries his Daughter, Joyful Exile, Pan's Flute, Poperinghe's Cousin, The two Medallions, and Sonnets). In addition to lyrical dramas Van Oost also composed songs, choral works (published by Faes in Antwerp) and some symphonic works (published by Eschig in Paris). Van Oost was especially commended for his melodic talent. Many of his melodies were inspired by popular music.
© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek vzw - Jan Dewilde (translation: Jo Sneppe)