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Watelet, Jos

Antwerpen, 08/05/1881 > Wommelgem, 03/05/1951


Watelet, Jos

by Jan Dewilde

At the Antwerp Royal Conservatory he studied with Jozef Bosiers, Joseph Callaerts, Joseph Tilborghs and Peter Benoit. He was an excellent organ and piano player and already at the age of fifteen he played as a soloist in the Zoological Society Concerts. Watelet was predestined to become a piano teacher at the Antwerp Conservatory, but he only made it as a piano accompanist. 

As a composer he felt he owed a lot to Benoit. He wrote sensitive songs and piano pieces, such as Cyclus uit bewogen tijden (Cycle from Unsettled Times), which he composed in the aftermath of the First World War. Accused of activism in 1919 he lost his job at the Conservatory and only in 1940 did the Conservatory director Flor Alpaerts reappoint him.

During the first decades of the twentieth century Watelet was one of the advocates of ancient music. In the Antwerp Protestant Church he often played ancient organ music, and with his Bach Society and the Harmonia Parnassa concert association he brought interesting concerts.

In 1920 together with Paul Lepage he founded the music publishing company "De Ring". In the series Monumenta Musicae Belgicae Watelet issued pioneering publications of organ and harpsichord music. In 1921 he organised ancient music courses for young musicians. 

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