Frits Celis

Category:componist, dirigent
Antwerpen, 11.04.1929
Genre(s):21ste eeuw / hedendaags, 20ste eeuw


Frits Celis was born in 1929 in Antwerp. He studied at the Royal Conservatories of Antwerp and Brussels, where he earned final diplomas in solfège, harmony, counterpoint, fugue, music history, harp and orchestral conducting. He then undertook further studies in conducting at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Cologne.
In 1946 he began his musical career as a harpist in the orchestra of the former Royal Flemish Opera in Antwerp, a position that he held until 1954. In that year he won first prize in a competition for conductors, organised by the Théatre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels. Shortly thereafter he was the sole prize-winner in a similar competition run by the then BRT (state broadcaster). Because of his love for opera, he chose to work at the Théatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, where he was conductor until 1959. After this he became conductor and music director at the Royal Flemish Opera in Antwerp, functions that he also held from 1981 to 1988 at the former Flemish Opera in Antwerp and Ghent. As a guest opera-[?]conductor he appeared in the Netherlands, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain and the United States. He also appeared many times as concert conductor.
In 1960 Frits Celis was appointed solfège teacher at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp, where he was also appointed transposition teacher 12 years later.
As a composer, Frits Celis is known for his songs, choral works, chamber music and orchestral works, which have been performed in many European countries, the United States and Japan. He has also been commissioned to write works for the BRT and the Flanders Festival. In 1992, SABAM (composers’ and performers’ organisation) awarded him the Fuga Trophy, in recognition of his many years of work for Belgian music. Since 1989 he has concentrated almost exclusively on composition, which has increased the size of his oeuvre considerably since that time. At present almost all his works are commissions, for symphonic ensembles, chamber music groups and choirs.

Selective bibliography
- H. STUBBE, Het gummetje van Frits Celis, in Muziek en Woord, december 1987, p. 4
- F. VERDONK, Frits Celis, een lyricus van vandaag, in Muziek en Woord, oktober 1994, p. 6-7
- D. VON BOLBORTH-DANYS, art. Celis, Frits, in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, uitg. dr. S. SADIE, Londen, 2001
- C. WILLEKENS, Frits Celis: de componist als bemiddelaar, in De Scene, maandblad van de Vlaamse Opera, januari 1991, p. 6-9

Works and scores:
List of works and work review: Matrix
Consulting scores:  

More information on his manuscripts and published scores can be found at 

Selective discography

Marcel Vercammen - heldentenorMarcel Vercammen - heldentenor (1994)
opera, musical theatre
Marcel Vercammen, BRT symfonisch orkest, Marijke van der Lugt, Rita Gorr, Carl Dieckman, Orkest van de Koninklijke Vlaamse Opera, Fernand Terby, Frits Celis (...)
De Vlaamse LeeuwDe Vlaamse Leeuw (1991)
20th century
Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Frits Celis, Jozef De Beenhouwer, Norbert Nozy, Groot Harmonieorkest der Gidsen, Michael Scheck, Kristiaan Van Ingelgem, Ivan Laire (...)
L.d.Vocht - F. Celis - R. HerberigsL.d.Vocht - F. Celis - R. Herberigs
20th century
Philharmonie van Antwerpen, Lodewijk De Vocht, Frits Celis, Mayumi Fujikawa, Frits Celis, Léonce Gras, Robert Herberigs

Selectieve discografie als componist

Whispers of TalesWhispers of Tales (2022)
20th century, romanticism, 21st century / contemporary
Mathilde Wauters, Manuel De Falla, Marcel Tournier, Mikhaïl Glinka, Mili Balakirev, Benjamin Attahir, Albert Zabel, Frits Celis (...)
Fingerprints - Signaturen van componerend VlaanderenFingerprints - Signaturen van componerend Vlaanderen (2011)
21st century / contemporary, 20th century
Bert Van Herck, Filip Rathé, Spectra Ensemble, Simon De Poorter, Annelies Van Parys, Klaas Coulembier, Stéphane Vande Ginste, Noor Sommereyns (...)
TarquiniaTarquinia (2010)
20th century
Emanon ensemble, Hubert Damen, Peter Welffens, Joseph Jongen, Frits Celis, Alain Craens, Raf De Keninck
A tribute to Frits CelisA tribute to Frits Celis (2009)
20th century
Jan Sciffer, Hans Ryckelynck, Frits Celis, Louis Vierne
Meesterlijk - harp/ gitaar / slagwerkMeesterlijk - harp/ gitaar / slagwerk (2008)
20th century, romanticism
Sophie Hallynck, Marie Hallynck, Roland Broux, Mol Percussion Orchestra, Ludwig Albert, Carlo Willems, Koen Wilmaers, Geert Callaert (...)
Windows on the Bass ClarinetWindows on the Bass Clarinet (2005)
20th century
Jan Guns, Hans Ryckelynck, Frits Celis, August Verbesselt, Wilfried Westerlinck, François Rasse, Bohuslav Martinů, Paul Hindemith (...)
Beyond the dreamBeyond the dream (2004)
20th century
Czech Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Frits Celis, Raymond Schroyens, Piet Swerts, Wilfried Westerlinck, Arthur Meulemans, Edmond Saveniers
Carnaval des AnimauxCarnaval des Animaux (2003)
21st century / contemporary, 20th century
Peter Verhoyen, Arco Baleno, Frits Celis, Yves Bondue, Petra Vermote, Jan Huylebroeck, Marc Matthys, Boudewijn Buckinx (...)
Kamermuziek uit Vlaanderen 2003Kamermuziek uit Vlaanderen 2003 (2003)
20th century, romanticism, classicism
I Solisti del Vento, Spiegel Strijkkwartet, Narziss und Goldmund Pianotrio, High Voltage, Prometheus Ensemble, Oxalys, Quatuor Danel (strijkkwartet), Black Jackets Company (...)
Music for Oboe and OrchestraMusic for Oboe and Orchestra (2002)
Piet Van Bockstal, Czech Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Victor Legley, Willem Kersters, Frits Celis, August de Boeck, Gabriël Verschraegen, Jacques Leduc (...)

Author of

Vlaanderen - Nr. 114 - september-oktober 1970Vlaanderen - Nr. 114 - september-oktober 1970 (1970)
20ste eeuw
Frits Celis, Daniel Sternefeld, Ernest van der Eyken, [et al.]

Related Items

Documents:Contemporary Music in Flanders IV (book)
Te gast Fritz Celis (personalia)