History

The Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles originally opened in 1813 as a singing school under the Napoleonic Empire in Bruxelles, and was subsequently a Royal School of Music, founded in 1826 by William I of the Netherlands, and the school has officially existed in its present form since 1832. As an insitution offering university-level education in music and theatre, the Conservatoire acquired its royal status, amongst other reasons, thanks to the international status of successive directors such as François-Joseph Fétis, François-Auguste Gevaert, Edgar Tinel or Joseph Jongen.


Initially founded to train students for the opera – very in vogue at the time – the singing school established in Brussels in 1813 offered classes in singing and music theory. Thanks to its considerable success, the school rapidly developed and added classes for other instruments, and in 1826, at the instigation of the government of the Netherlands, it became the Royal Music School. The 1830 revolution interrupted the work of the royal school, and the representatives of the City of Brussels were forced to temporarily close the school in 1831, but it reopened in 1832 under the name "Conservatoire royal de Musique de Bruxelles". The committee designated to administer the school named the Mons-born musicologist and teacher François-Joseph Fétis (1833-1871) as the first head of the new institution. He had been a pupil and then teacher and librarian at the Conservatoire de Paris, and his ambition was to raise the young Belgian Conservatoire to the same standing as that of Paris, in particular by putting together an eminent teaching faculty, and by developing an orchestra which would be made up of teachers and students at the Conservatoire and would be dedicated to rediscovering and performing early music.

His successor, François-Auguste Gevaert (1871-1908), had a background as a musicologist and was a great organiser, and further increased the prestige of the Conservatoire: new courses and scholarships were introduced, the current building was constructed, and a musical instruments museum was founded. Under his leadership, the concerts of the Conservatoire were opened up to international and contemporary composers, and acquired an unequalled prestige.

The third director, Edgar Tinel (1908-1912), gave a new impetus to the teaching of theory, and created the opera course, while Léon Du Bois (1912-1925), despite being head during the difficult years during and following the first world war, managed to maintain the high level of education and also established a course in music history. Joseph Jongen (1925-1939) was the head who moulded the course at the Conservatoire into the form that we recognised today. He was succeeded by his brother Léon Jongen (1939-1949) and then Marcel Poot (1949-1966).

In 1966 the institution was divided into two language sections, each with it own director; Camille Schmit (1966-1973) for the francophone section, and Kamiel D'Hooge (1967-1994) for the Dutch-language section, leading to the duplication of the administrative departments alongside the theory and practical courses. Shortly afterwards, the two schools parted ways completely, each acquiring a separate, autonomous status within their own federal state.

In 1988, a jazz department was established.
In 2001, the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles adjusted its work in line with European standards to offer 'licence' degrees in two fields of music and acting.
In 2003, the current director Frédéric de Roos took office.
One year later, in line with the Bologna reforms, the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles started awarding Master degrees. This artistic education at the highest level is supported by being given in combination with a more general university-level education.

Since 2009, the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles has been associated with La Cambre, the national school of visual arts, and l'INSAS, national institution of performing arts, and the three schools together form ARTes, the platform of the three arts colleges of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels, each of international standing and located in Brussels, which together offer access to courses of study in all artistic domains.

A short history of the Conservatoire...

1832

February

  • Royal decree establishing the Conservatoire royal de musique de Bruxelles [EN]

July

  • Nomination of the eight first teachers (music theory, piano, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, bassoon, horn)

1833

April

  • François-Joseph Fétis (1784-1871) director and composition teacher

October

  • Classes start in the former Hôtel des Finances, rue de l’Impératrice ; 73 students are registered.

1834

February

  • An Italian language course is established for singers, to be taught by the Italian guitarist Marco Aurelio Zani de Ferranti (1801-1878)

August

  • A string-ensemble class is established, to be taught by the violin teacher Nicolas-Lambert Wéry (1790-1867)

January

  • At the end of the year, the Conservatoire moves to a temporary location at rue Bodenbroeck 15 (Petit Sablon)

1835

July

  • Presentation of the first library catalogue (manuscripts), edited by Gloden, secretary - deputy librarian; the catalogue comprises 575 items.

1836

October

  • Organ class is established, to be taught by Fétis

1838

February

  • Singing classes start again : Jean Géraldy (1808-1869) named professor and Jules de Glimes (1814-1881) additional teacher

1840

October

  • A class in ensemble singing is established, to be taught by François Lintermans

1843

January

  • A special advanced violin course is established, taught by Charles-Auguste de Bériot (1802-1870)

1844

January

  • A class in lyric and dramatic declamation is established, to be taught by Mira

1847

January

  • The Conservatoire moves from rue Bodenbroeck to the hôtel de Croÿ, (formerly the hôtel de Tour et Taxis), 2, rue de l’Arbre, at Petit Sablon

1848

April

  • Marie Pleyel-Moke (1811-1875) becomes piano proefssor (young women) and Adrien-François Servais (1807-1866) professor of cello

1849

March

  • Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens (1823-1881) becomes professor of organ

1852

November

  • A class in chamber music with piano is established, to be taught by Jacques Steveniers (1820-1899)

1856

January

  • Jean-Baptiste Grognier known as Quélus (1813-1883) professor of spoken and lyric declamation

1859

January

  • A class is established in harmonium, to be taught by the organist Charles-Victor Dubois (1832-1869) who is blind

1860

July

  • A class is established in accompaniment and figured bass (later becoming the course of practical harmony), to be taught by Adolphe Samuel (1824-1898)

1867

February

  • A saxphone class is established, to be taught by Nazaire Beeckman (1822-1900)

1871

March

  • Death of Fétis. On 2 April, François-Auguste Gevaert (1828-1908) succeeds him

September

  • Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881) succeeds Charles-Auguste de Bériot as head of the advanced violin class

1872

January

  • Ferdinand Kufferath (1818-1896) professor of counterpoint and fugue

1874

December

  • Henri Wieniawski (1835-1880) succeeds Vieuxtemps as head of the advanced violin class; he also takes on the newly-created string quartet class.

1875

November

  • A class is established in gymnastics and calisthenics, to be taught by the choreographer Lucien Petipa, brother of the famous imperial ballet master in St. Petersburg.

1876

February

  • Inauguration by the royal family of the new building and concert hall in rue de la Régence

1877

February

  • Victor Mahillon (1841-1924) is named as curator of the musical instruments museum

1879

January

  • The musical instruments museum acquires the Tolbecque collection which includes the famous Componium (1821) by Nicolaus Winckel

1882

February

  • Jenö Hubay (1858-1937) becomes professor of violin

June

  • A class is established in chamber music for bowed instruments, to be taught by Alexandre Cornélis (1848- 1917)

July

  • Alphonse Vermandèle (1852-1914) professor of declamation, deportment and dramatic "mimique"

1884

October

  • A class for harp is established, to be taught by Adélaïde Régis

1886

July

  • Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931) becomes professor of violin

1887

August

  • Guillaume Guidé (1859-1917) becomes professor of oboe

December

  • Arthur De Greef (1862-1940) becomes professor of piano

1894

September

  • Alfred Wotquenne (1867-1939) is named librarian

1896

September

  • Edgar Tinel (1877-1912) becomes professor in counterpoint and fugue

1897

October

  • Alfred Wotquenne becomes secretary and head of studies

1904

April

  • A special class is established for chromatic harp, to be taught by confiée à Jean Risler (1865-1932)

1908

January

  • The count Louis Cavens offers the Musuem of Instruments the collection of early instruments of the Netherlands, collected by the Ronse notary César Snoeck (1834-1898)

1909

January

  • Edgar Tinel (1854-1912) succeeds François-Auguste Gevaert to become director
  • A class in opera is established, to be taught by Ernest Van Dyck (1861-1923)

1912

April

  • A class is started in basic history of music and general artistic culture, to be taught by Ernest Closson (1870-1950)

October

  • Death of director Edgar Tinel. He is replaced on November 25 by Léon Du Bois (1859-1935)

1914

January

  • During the war (1914-1918), classes continue to be given, although with difficulty due to the lack of staff (many teachers chose to go into exile in England),
  • as well as the poor organisation of public transport, and lack of fuel: Courses are suspended during the winter.

1919

September

  • Charles Vanden Borren (1874-1966) librarian

1920

August

  • Joseph Jongen (1873-1953) becomes professor of counterpoint and fugue

1923

December

  • Laurent Swolfs (1878-1954) becomes professor of opera

1924

August

  • Ernest Closson (1870-1950) succeeds Victor Mahillon to become curator of the Museum of musical instruments

1925

October

  • Joseph Jongen (1873-1953) succeeds Léon Du Bois as directeur. Joseph Jongen refuses to live in the appointed house of his predecessor, and from now on will live at the collections of the Museum of musical instruments

1928

March

  • A class is established in advanced singing, to be taught by Lina Falk

1929

January

  • The former music library of the cathedral of St Michel and St. Gudule is bought up by the Conservatoire and added to the library.

1932

July

  • Royal decree awarding the status of "personnalité civile" to the Conservatoire

1933

August

  • Léon Jongen (1884-1969) becomes professor of fugue

1939

August

  • Léon Jongen (1884-1969) succeeds his brother Joseph to become director

October

  • Henry Sarly (1883-1954) becomes professor of harmony

1941

October

  • Arthur Grumiaux (1921-1986) becomes head of the violin class

1942

December

  • Carlo Van Neste (1914-1992) becomes professor of violin

1945

January

  • The collection of works by Mozart belonging to Doctor Hollenfeltz are added to the library.

1946

January

  • René Vanderhaeghe, or René Lyr (1887-1957) succeeds Hermann Closson to become curator of the Museum of musical instruments

1947

May

  • André Gertler (1907-1998) becomes professor of violin

1949

February

  • André Souris (1899-1970) becomes professor of harmony

April

  • Marcel Poot (1901-1988) succeeds Léon Jongen as director

1962

January

  • The Museum of musical instruments is completely reorganised

October

  • The new library of the Conservatoire is inaugurated and opened to the public.

1965

October

  • A guitar course is established, to be taught by Nicolas Perez-Fernandez, known as Alfonso (1913-2001)

1966

September

  • Camille Schmit (1908-1976) replaces Marcel Poot as director.
  • A Dutch-language section is established

1969

October

  • A harpsichord class is established to be taught by Charles Koenig (1923-1992)

1971

January

  • Claude De Backer, known as, Claude Etienne (1907-1992) becomes professor of dramatic arts.

October

  • A composition class is established, to be taught by Jacqueline Fontyn (1930) ;

December

  • A music analysis class is established, for which Pierre Bartholomée (1937) is the first tenured professor.

1972

October

  • A class in educational psychology is established, to be taught by Huguette Leclercq (1938) and a class in improvisational acting is also established, to be taught by Pierre Laroche (1931).

1974

January

  • Eric Feldbusch (1922) succeeds Camille Schmit to become director.

1976

September

  • Valéry Afanassiev (1947) and Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden (1947) become deputy professors of piano

October

  • A second class in music analysis is created, to be taught by Bernard Foccroulle (1953)

1977

December

  • Paul Raspé (1942) succeeds Albert Vander Linden to become librarian.

1983

October

  • A recorder class is established, to be taught by Frédéric de Roos (1958)

1986

January

  • The building of the former Union Coloniale, on rue de Stassart, is made available for the Conservatoire to house the Theatre department.

1987

September

  • Jean Baily (1937) succeeds Eric Feldbusch to become director.

1988

October

  • A Jazz department is established, and the first professors are appointed : Guy Cabay, Bruno Castellucci, Michel Hatzigeorgiou, Steve Houben, Charles Loos, Arnould Massart, Paolo Radoni, Jean-Louis Rassinfosse and Richard Rousselet.

1992

January

  • The Museum of musical instruments is no longer part of the Conservatoire and is integrated as part of the Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire de Bruxelles, of which it becomes the fourth department.

1999

May

  • Order pertaining to the classification of the royal conservatoires within higher education.

2000

January

  • The library makes a very significant contribution to the exhibition "L’Opéra. Un chant d’étoiles" organised by the opera house La Monnaie, as part of Brussels role as 2000 culture capital of Europe.

2002

September

  • A new structure comes into force, and numerous general courses are established.

January

  • A former high school of the city of Brussels (Athénée Jules Bordet, rue du chêne 17) is made available for the Conservatoire.

2003

January

  • Frédéric de Roos (1958) becomes director of the Conservatoire.

2004

September

  • The "new structure", known as "Bologne" comes into force.

2007

January

  • From 2007 à 2014 : numerous disciplines are introduced in the Department of early music: lute, baroque oboe, baroque flute, cello…

2014

September

  • New "Paysage" regluations of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels come into force, marking significant reforms to the functioning of higher education