Adolphe Biarent, a leading composer of Belgian Post-Romanticism
Belgian composer, cellist and conductor Adolphe Biarent achieved great fame in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before falling somewhat into oblivion due to changing musical tastes. The composer combined a high artistic ideal with a remarkable writing technique. His works are the product of a fiery, sensitive temperament.
Adolphe Biarent was born on 16 October 1871 in Frasnes-lez-Gosselies in Hainaut. His cabinetmaker father and teacher mother were great music-lovers and did not oppose the artistic career their son wished to pursue. He began his studies at the Brussels Conservatory, where he studied under Huberti, Dupont and Kufferath, and then continued at Ghent Conservatory, studying fugue and composition. He gained notoriety at the age of 30, winning a Prix de Rome in 1901 with his cantata for soloists, choir and orchestra, "Oedipus at Colonus". The scholarship associated with this prize allowed him to discover Italy, and more importantly Austria and Germany, in the footsteps of his favourite masters, who were Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. When he returned from his travels, he settled in Charleroi and worked as a music teacher, conductor and composer.
His work owes much to Wagner and Franck; in his compositions for piano, he was inspired by the works of poets from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, notably Marie de France, Charles of Orléans and Pierre de Ronsard. Biarent was also open to other musical traditions, as shown by his "Contes d'Orient", a heroic poem for symphony orchestra, composed in 1909. In addition to his work as a composer and teacher, Biarent put a lot of energy into improving the music scene in Charleroi and wanted to provide the city with a symphony orchestra. To test the musical interests of his fellow citizens, he brought in the La Monnaie orchestra to perform "Trenmor", his symphonic poem based on a legend from Ossian. It met with great success and enthusiasm. And it was thanks to his initiative and efforts that the Charleroi Symphony Orchestra was created in 1907. Adolphe Biarent died quietly in 1916, in the middle of the First World War. His works, which did not really appeal to the people of the Roaring Twenties, were forgotten. Now, however, new recordings are being made, such as this work for cello and piano.