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Georges Antoine 

Paul Barras 

Tiziano Bedetti 

Michel Béro 

Jean-Louis Cadée 

Leonello Capodaglio 

Yves Carlin 

Dominique Charle 

Thierry Chleide 

Marcel Cominotto 

Roger Cornelis 

Mathieu Debaar 

Christian Debecq 

Firmin Decerf 

Paul Detiffe 

Berthe di Vito-Delvaux 

Georges Dubois 

Albert Dupuis 

Luc Dupuis 

Michel Fourgon 

Pierre Froidebise 

Maurice Guillaume 

André Jadot 

Mathieu Jodin 

André Klenes 

Lucien Lambotte 

Louis Lavoye 

Michel Leclerc 

Guillaume Lekeu 

Jean-Luc Lepage 

Alain Levecq 

Pierre Liémans 

Albert Lomba 

Guy-Philippe Luypaerts 

Anne Martin 

Raymond Micha 

Marian Mitea 

Onofrio Palumbo 

Désiré Pâque 

Jean-Dominique Pasquet 

Carlos Peron Cano 

René Potrat 

Henri Pousseur 

Jean Rogister 

Paul Rouault 

Paul Sana 

Edouard Senny 

Claude Siquiet 

Philippe Verkaeren 

Patrick Wilwerth 

Pirly Zurstrassen 

 Georges ANTOINE (Liège 1892 - Bruges 1918)

GEORGES ANTOINEGeorges Antoine was born in Liège on 28 April 1892. His father, Eugène Antoine (1850 - 1907) who has studied under Etienne Soubre, was musical director at Liège Cathedral and fulfilled the function of Liège's official composer of church music. He died when Georges was fifteen, however, leaving the boy as head of the family with the responsability for two younger siblings. Despite the demands on him, Georges used his leisure moments to pursue and advance the musical studies which he had begun at the age of ten at the Liège Conservatoire Royal de Musique, of which Sylvain Dupuis was Principal at this time. Distinctions he won there were as follows : 1906, first prize for musical theory (Jules Defebve's class) ; 1910, first prize for harmony (Carl Smulders' class) ; 1912, first prize for piano (Maurice Jaspar's class) ; 1913, first prize for chamber music (Jules Robert's class) and first prize for fugue (Sylvain Dupuis' class).

His op. 1, composed in 1910, was "Les Sirènes" for double mixed choir. This was followed in 1912 by "Deux Mélodies" op. 2, the Violin Sonata in A minor op. 3 and "Deux Chansons dans le style ancien" op. 4a. But the First World War broke out in 1914 and Georges Antoine joined up ; he had just composed a Piano Concerto in G Minor (lost at this time). During the battles on the Yser, he miraculously survived a hail of bullets, but he was soon struck down by illness after spending the wet spring months in the trenches. From then on his progress was from one hospital to another. Weakened, discharged from the army and without ressources, he went to France and settled in Saint-Malo, where he gave lessons, organised concerts in aid of the poor and began to compose again. This fertile period, 1915-1916, during which the Sonata op. 3 found its definitive form, also saw the genesis if the Piano Quartet in D minor op. 6, the song "Vendange de 1914" op. 8 and several other melodies, mainly settings of Beaudelaire, Corbière, Klingsor, Samain and Verlaine, which make up op. 4b and op. 7. As the war went on his state of health became more and more precarious, although he had welcome periods of remission. 1917 and 1918 saw the composition of "Veillées d'armes" op. 9, a poem for orchestra, and the songs "Wallonie" op. 10, "Noël" and "Voici, riche d'avoir pleuré". In the summer of 1918, the Allies began an offensive which soon led to victory. Despite his fragile health Antoine was keen to return to the front, and he experienced the joy of entering a reclaimed Bruges at the beginning of October. But he was struck down by fever. His friends and relations lost sight of him in the frenzy of liberation. News reached them in a dispatch : "On the morning of 13 November the doctor admitted that he could do no more, and Georges was told that his condition was beyond hope. But he had suffered so much during the war that he was unwilling to believe how desperately ill he was. That evening, around seven o'clock, he died very peacefully, without pain, fully conscious, and still talking about his planned return to Liège, his mother and the "Prix de Rome…"

Antoine's work had already given rise to some very favourable opinions. Vincent d'Indy declared that he had been "marvellously gifted" and found his quartet "remarquable". François Rasse expressed the view that "the death of this young composer, perhaps a genius, was an irreparable loss for Belgian musical life"; Charles Van den Borren ranked him with Lekeu and Chausson and estimated that the future would have accorded him "a place amongst the great in the development of music".

Philippe Gilson
Bibliothécaire du Conservatoire royal de Musique de Liège.
Translated by Celia Skrine









 

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