Mortelmans, Lodewijk


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Lodewijk Mortelmans was born in Antwerp on Februari 5th 1868, as second son of printer Karel Mortelmans. He died on Tuesday June 24th 1952 in Antwerp and is burried on the large field of honor at the 'Schoonselhof' cimetary. 
He was an outstanding, universal belgian musician and composer.

His unique and poetic classical songs, his intimate and delicate piano music and his imaginative orchestral pieces rank among the European masterworks of the end of the 19th and the early 20th century.

Lodewijk Mortelmans broadened the horizons of the "Belgian music scene", being also one of the founders of the International Contest Eugène Ysaye, the present Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium.

After completing his musical education at the age of 19, he studied composition and orchestration under Peter Benoit. 
In this same year, his first lied De bloemen en de sterren was awarded 1st price of the concours 'Vlaams-Hollands Tornooi' in Roeselare. 

In 1889 he already participated 'just to try' and obtained, together with Paul Lebrun, a shared Second Prix de Rome with his cantate Sinaï. He then was 21 years old. Although in 1891, he had to interrupt his participation due to illness.

In 1893 at the age of 25, Lodewijk Mortelmans was awarded the First Prize of Rome with his cantate Lady Macbeth. 


Lodewijk MortelmansHis symphonic work was received with enthusiasm during a Lodewijk Mortelmans festival, organized in Antwerp in 1899. From then on he was regarded as the indisputable leader of the Antwerp music scene. Lodewijk Mortelmans and Paul Gilson were the most important composers of a generation that breathed new life into Flemish music. 

From personal notes of Lodewijk Mortelmans : 
"On april 17th 1899 a great concert took place in Antwerp where only works of Lodewijk Mortelmans under his conduct were performed. It were Helios, Mythe der Lente, Een lied van de smart, Salve Regina and Homerische Symphonie, all composed after his Prix de Rome. This concert confirmed definetively the reputation of Lodewijk Mortelmans. Joseph Dupont by the way, had already performed his 'Mythe der Lente' at the 'Concerts Populaires' in Brussels." 


With Lodewijk Mortelmans, Flemish music became more refined in form. He had an exceptionally rich personality, which was genuinely reflected in his music. In his art he strived to combine extreme formal beauty with great natural feeling. His songs, often using poems by Guido Gezelle, are among the most beautiful of the genre in all Europe.

The composer was also a gifted pedagogue, who formed numerous famous musicians, such as 
Lodewijk De Vocht, Marinus De Jong, Emmanuel Durlet and Flor Peeters. 


Lodewijk MortelmansFrom 1901 to 1924 he was professor of counterpoint and fugue at the Royal Flemish Academy of Music in Antwerp, whose principal he became in 1924 and stayed until his retirement in1933. In addition to that, he lectured at the Interdiocesan School for Church Music in Mechelen, the present Lemmens Institute in Louvain. 


Maatschappij der Nieuwe Concerten 1910In 1903, Mortelmans became the founding conductor of the Koninklijke Maatschappij der Nieuwe Concerten in Antwerp 
(Royal Society of New Concerts) and brought this orchestra at the musical top of Belgium. He managed to have famous musicians such as Gustav Mahler, Siegfried Wagner, Hans Richter, Richard Strauss and Sergei Rachmaninov to conduct his orchestra in Antwerp.

Lodewijk Mortelmans conducted himself world famous soloists such as Pablo de Sarasate, Jacques Thibaud, Eugène Isaye, Pablo Casals and Fritz Kreisler. 
As a conductor he combined technical perfection with great musical feeling. 


During a successful tour in the United States of America (1920), Lodewijk Mortelmans was invited by Pablo Casals to become the conductor of a well-known Symphonic Orchestra. Some works were edited after agreements with Schirmer in New York and with Composers Musical Corporation.

Gabrielle MortelmansLodewijk Mortelmans rejected this honorable offer, because during the war, in 1917, he had lost his wife Gabrielle Mortelmans and two of his sons, and therefor felt responsible for the education of his five other children. 
(Gabriella Mortelmans †03.05.1917 - Frits †22.07.1917 and Guido †10.01.1917) 

The trip started on the night of 29th of March 1921 from Antwerpen to Baltimore on board of the Nerviër (Shipping Company : Lloyd Royal Belge). 
The Cunard Line was chosen for the returntrip, whilst the crossing of these vessels due to conflicts is unsafe. 
On the 9th of june 1921 Misses Gabrielle Radoux, Daisy Jean and himself sailed of for Cherbourg aboard the Lodewijk Mortelmans & Gabrielle RadouxRMS Saxonia on a ten days journey. From there on, they would travel home by train. 
In his correspondance he expected to be home in the Helenalei around the 23st. 
Lodewijk Mortelmans remarried on january 14th of 1922, with the pianist and musical pedagogue Gabrielle Radoux.

photo Lodewijk Mortelmans & Gabrielle Radoux 


Membership Nr. 1 NaveaLodewijk Mortelmans was founder, founding member and first president of the authors rights association NAVEA in Belgium, actually named SABAM
He had the membership Nr. 1,
and was member of the Royal Flemish Academy for Sciences, Literature and Fine Arts.
Co-foundors of NAVEA are amongst others : Edward Verheyden, Emiel Hullebroeck