Callaerts, Joseph


Callaerts, Joseph

Messe, graduel & offertoire Op. 4 pour quatre voix avec accompagnement d’orgue (with parts)



Joseph Callaerts

Messe, graduel & offertoire, op. 4 (1865)
pour quatre voix avec accompagnement d’orgue

As was customary in his days, Joseph Callaerts enjoyed a typical music education as chorister in a church choir, in his case the music chapel of Our Lady’s Cathedral in Antwerp. This music chapel was then run by violinist and composer Guillaume Jacques Joseph Kennis (1768-1845), a scion of a famous family of musicians, who was choir master from 1802 to 1845. When churches opened their doors again after the concordat of 15 July 1801 between Napoleon Bonaparte and Pope Pius VII, Kennis engineered a church choir and orchestra under precarious circumstances. He was allowed to call on musicians of the opera orchestra and of the military bands that were stationed in Antwerp. At the cathedral Kennis developed a rich music library, now preserved in the library of the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. Even though Kennis himself composed only a limited number of religious works, he did arrange many works of W.A.Mozart, amongst others. In doing so, he adapted the strength to his own ensembles, and in some cases he put a religious text on a profane work.

Besides Kennis Callaerts also got to know the bass Corneel Schermers (1799-1887), singing master of the choristers. Concurrently Schermers taught singing at the municipal schools, and in 1843 he became co-founder of the Ecole de Musique in Antwerp.

Subsequently Callaerts studied harmony and counterpoint with the Antwerp composer Henri Simon (1783-1861), while also owing a lot to tutoring by Edouard Grégoir (1822-1890), a versatile musician active as a pianist, an organist, a composer and a writer on music. In 1855 Callaerts was appointed deputy organist, and two years later titular organist of Antwerp Cathedral. Meanwhile he had earned a first prize for organ at the Conservatoire royal in Brussels in 1856 with Jacques Nicolas Lemmens (1823-1881). Gradually he also became more prominent in Antwerp music life as a performer on the harmonium and the organ, while concurrently being in great demand as an organ expert. He was instrumental in the railroading of a new organ for the cathedral in the years 1889-1891. Ironically enough, although Callaerts preferred Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, the organ was eventually built by the Brussels firm of Schyven.

In 1867 Callaerts tried in vain to secure the directorship of the Vlaamsche Muziekschool van Antwerpen, which was to become the Royal Flemish Conservatory in 1898. Peter Benoit became its first director, but Callaerts was immediately appointed organ teacher. From 1898 he was also to teach practical harmony. Callaerts passed away on 3 March 1901, but his death was eclipsed by the death of Benoit on 8 March.

Callaerts left behind a rich and varied oeuvre, generally characterized by profound respect for the classical tradition. Besides an impressive series of organ works (including a concerto and sonatas) he also composed piano works, chamber music, works for orchestra, songs, choral works, cantatas, an opera (Le retour imprévu) and liturgical music, mostly meant for execution in the cathedral in Antwerp. In addition to motets and litanies Callaerts also wrote four Masses. Three Masses, written in 1865, 1885 and 1891, are intended for four-part choir, organ and orchestra, the fourth (undated) Mass being for three-part male choir and organ.


Read full preface / Komplettes Vorwort > HERE

Score Data

Special Edition

The Flemish Music Collection


Chor/Gesang & Instrument(e)






Set Score & Parts


225 x 320 mm

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