Louis De Meester

Category:componist
Roeselare, 28.10.1904 - Gent, 12.12.1987
Genre(s):20ste eeuw, electro-akoestische muziek

Biography

Louis August Edmond Hendrik De Meester was born on 18 October 1904 in a Francophone, liberal family in Roeselare. From a young age he took lessons in violin and piano, as well as solfège, although he would never receive a traditional musical education. From 1923, the composer started to earn his living by playing in cafés. He also played music for silent films and for balls and parties; this would form the basis of his later interest in functional music and music for film, plays and ballet.
In 1927 he went to France to pursue the same career, moving on to Morocco two years later and there signing a contract to play jazz at the “Café de la Paix”. He also did the administrative work in a music school in Meknès, where he was offered a position as a music teacher. De Meester never received formal musical training, but taught himself music theory in six weeks. After two weeks of teaching, he became director of the school. In the context of his duties as director, he met Sergei Prokofiev, Maurice Ravel and Francis Poulenc. In the same period he became a member of the Belgian artists’ rights association, SABAM (then known as Navea, the National Association for Artists’ Rights).
The composer returned to Belgium in 1937 in order to complete his studies as a composer. He took lessons in counterpoint with Jean Absil, the only formal musical training which he would ever follow. At the end of the Second World War, after a successful entrance exam, De Meester took a position at the NIR (the Belgian Broadcasting Corporation) as a music producer. At this time he met the “Groupe des Six” - Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Germaine Tailleferre en Arthur Honnegger – as well as Igor Stravinsky. These composers did not have a direct influence on him, however. While at the NIR (which became the BRT after the war), Louis De Meester, who had now abandoned his pseudonym of Louis Master, experimented in electro-acoustic music in the radio studios together with David Van de Woestijne.
In 1954, De Meester won his first major prize, the Italia Prize for documentary, with Le soleil se lève sur un monde. Three years later he won the same prize again for the category of radio, with his radio-opera, De Grote Verzoeking van Sint-Antonius (The Great Temptation of St Anthony), in which electro-acoustic techniques were applied. In 1961, De Meester was invited to become the artistic director of the IPEM (the Institute for Psycho-acoustics and Electronic Music) in Ghent. The institute was officially opened one year later.
De Meester helped to found the composers’ group SPECTRA in 1963. He won the Sicily Prize (as part of the Italia Prize) for his opera Twee is te weinig, drie is te veel (Two is not enough, three is too much). From 1969, De Meester officially went into retirement, but remained active at the IPEM. He was a two-time winner of the Visser-Neerlandia Prize, in 1970 and 1973, for Marine and Concertino respectively. In 1979, he won the Staatsprijs for Composition, awarded every five years, and one year later he received an honorary doctorate from the Rijksuniversiteit Gent.
De Meester’s last activities cover the period from 1984 to 1987, when he produced arrangements for the Nieuwe Muziekgroep, an ensemble conducted by Mark De Smet, one of the composer’s former pupils. Louis De Meester died on 12 December 1987.

Selective bibliography
- Louis De Meester, uig. dr. DE NIEUWE MUZIEKGROEP VZW (o.m. M. DE SMET), Gent, 1988
- R. ROSSON, Louis De Meester. La Grande Tentation de Saint-Antoine. De Grote Verzoeking van Sint-Antonius, onuitg. licentiaatsverhandeling RUG, Gent, 1991
- H. SABBE, art. Louis De Meester, in M. DELAERE, Y. KNOCKAERT en H. SABBE, Nieuwe Muziek in Vlaanderen, Brugge, 1998, p. 79-80

©2001 Heleen Persoons and Pieter Van Tichelen, for Flanders Music Centre and MATRIX

Work review and List of work see Matrix
Scores: IPEM University Ghent

Selective discography

De Meester Alpha RecordingsDe Meester Alpha Recordings (2013)
20th century, Electro-Acoustic music
Louis De Meester, Louis De Meester
Elektronische productie van het I.P.E.M. - L. de Meester - P. Beyls - R. De Smet - L. GoethalsElektronische productie van het I.P.E.M. - L. de Meester - P. Beyls - R. De Smet - L. Goethals (1978)
20th century, Electro-Acoustic music
Oswald Van Olmen, Louis De Meester, Paul De Wilde, Peter Beyls, Louis De Meester, Raoul De Smet, Lucien Goethals
C. Brewaeys - Messe de Minuit à 'Notre Dame de la paix'C. Brewaeys - Messe de Minuit à 'Notre Dame de la paix'
20th century, choir music
Jules Bastin, Charles Brewaeys, Daniel Sternefeld, Maria Ceuppens, Louis De Meester, Jean-Jacques Schreurs, René Mazy, Charles Hens (...)

Selectieve discografie als componist

Louis De Meester - MimesLouis De Meester - Mimes (2017)
20th century
Tina Fux, Louis De Meester, Christophe Deckers
De Meester Alpha RecordingsDe Meester Alpha Recordings (2013)
20th century, Electro-Acoustic music
Louis De Meester, Louis De Meester
IPEM. 50 years of electronic and electroacoustic music at the Ghent universityIPEM. 50 years of electronic and electroacoustic music at the Ghent university (2013)
Electro-Acoustic music
Diverse uitvoerders, Louis De Meester, Lucien Goethals, Didier Gazelle, David Van De Woestijne, Stefan Beyst, Helmut Lachenmann, Boudewijn Buckinx (...)
Jongen - Ysaÿe - De Meester - String TriosJongen - Ysaÿe - De Meester - String Trios (2006)
20th century
Kristien Roels, Kris Matthynssens, Pieter Stas, Goeyvaerts Strijktrio, Louis De Meester, Eugène Ysaye, Joseph Jongen
Lexicon van de muziek in West-Vlaanderen 1Lexicon van de muziek in West-Vlaanderen 1 (2001)
20th century
Herman Roelstraete, Victor Legley, Elias Gistelinck, Louis De Meester, Willy Ostijn, Jan Decadt, Jules Bouquet, Georges Maes (...)
Nieuwe Muziek in VlaanderenNieuwe Muziek in Vlaanderen (1998)
20th century
Anne Cambier, Henk Lauwers, Johan Van Cauwenberge, Ludo Mariën, Werner van Mechelen, BRTN Koor, BRTN Filharmonisch Orkest, Geoffrey Madge (...)
Louis De Meester. De Grote VerzoekingLouis De Meester. De Grote Verzoeking (1998)
20th century
BRTN Koor, Louis De Meester, Hans Rotman, Brussels Jazz Orchestra, BRTN Filharmonisch Orkest
Chant d'amourChant d'amour (1994)
romanticism, 20th century
Paul Klinck, Katrijn Friant, Heleen Van Haegenborgh, Johan De Smet, Benoni Lagye, Rik Verstrepen, Paul Miry, Dirk Brossé (...)
Virtuoze MiniaturenVirtuoze Miniaturen (1990)
21st century / contemporary, Baroque, 20th century, early music
Tielman Susato, Koperkwintet Theo Mertens, Anthony Holborne, Claude Le Jeune, Franz Schöggl, Françis Poulenc, Enrique Granados, Béla Bartók (...)
Virtuoze MiniaturenVirtuoze Miniaturen (1990)
early music, Baroque, 20th century, 21st century / contemporary
Tielman Susato, Koperkwintet Theo Mertens, Anthony Holborne, Claude Le Jeune, Franz Schöggl, Françis Poulenc, Enrique Granados, Béla Bartók (...)

Related Items

Documents:Contemporary Music in Flanders VI (book)
Contemporary Music in Flanders IV (book)
Louis De Meester: Biografische schets & belangrijkste werken (personalia)