Lodewijk De Vocht




Lodewijk De Vocht (Antwerp, 1887 - 1977) was one of those unforgettable figures who helped shape Flemish and Belgian musical life in the first half of the twentieth century. At the age of ten he became a chorister in the cathedral choir of his hometown Antwerp, where he received  music training from Emiel Wambach. In 1899 he was admitted as the youngest violinist to the orchestra class of the Royal Conservatoire.

Teacher and head

After his studies, De Vocht returned to the conservatory, in 1921 as a harmony teacher, in 1925 as teacher of the orchestra class (with pupils such as Daniël Sternefeld, Jef Maes and André Cluytens) and in 1944 as the head of the conservatory. He held that position until his retirement in 1952.

Music pedagogue and conductor

As a music pedagogue, Lodewijk De Vocht was the founder of Jeugd en Muziek Antwerpen and from 1939 to 1943 he was director of the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel. In 1913 he succeeded Wambach as Kapellmeister of the Antwerp Cathedral, in 1915 he became conductor of the women's choir of Constance Teichmann and Amanda Schnitzler-Selb. In 1916 he transformed it into the mixed choir Chorale Caecilia. Through a series of notable performances, this choir gained great national and even international fame. In 1967, on his 80th birthday, after more than 50 years of choir leadership, Lodewijk De Vocht decided to resign from the baton. His choir, however, continued to live under the capable leadership of Frits Celis, Frans Dubois and, since 2002, Paul Dinneweth.


De Vocht left us an extensive oeuvre of romantic and often vitalistic inspiration. His work includes masses, motets, songs and psalms, symphonic poems and cantatas, concertos for violin, cello and recorder, chamber music, solo works for piano and guitar, as well as stage music.

De Vocht wrote his first compositions when he was sixteen (choral works, songs and the cantata Groeninghe). He would mainly continue to write vocal music, although he composed some fresh symphonic poems earlier in his career, including Dageraad (1907) and In Ballingschap (1915). Later in life he also wrote concertos for violin (1944), cello (1955) and recorder. De Vocht's most original compositions are intended for choir: virtuoso, sometimes wordless choral studies and choral symphonies, such as the Great Symphony for mixed choir and orchestra (1932) and Four studies for mixed choir. He also wrote religious music and cantatas: Lofzang aan Antwerpen (Praise to Antwerp), Volkenhulde (for the World Exhibition in 1930), Scaldis Aeterna (1966) and the lyrical song Primavera (1962-1967). He also wrote songs (on texts by Gezelle, Simons, Cuppens, Peleman and others), chamber music (Trio woodwinds, 1955) and solo pieces for piano and guitar.

Jan De Wilde, associated to the Antwerp Conservatory and the Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek (Study Center for Flemish Music), testifies: 'As a conductor, especially in the 1920s and 1930s, Lodewijk De Vocht was very important for twentieth-century musical life. The programs he performed with the Chorale Cecilia were stylistically and in terms of genre very diverse and contemporary'.

I was able to keep a group of very different people together through my love for music.

Lodewijk De Vocht

Choral works (selection)

The choir Chorale Cecilia testifies about former conductor Lodewijk De Vocht
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