Antoine Bessems – Souvenirs élégiaques 5th Fantaisie op. 25 (ca. 1850) for viola and piano
(Antwerp, 4 April 1806 – Paris, 19 October 1868)
arrangement for cello and piano by Adrien François Servais
(Halle, 6 June 1807 – Halle, 26 November 1866)
Antoine Bessems had his first music training as a choirboy in the Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady. In 1826 he enrolled at the Conservatoire de Paris, where his brother Joseph (1809-1892) was studying the cello. At the Paris Conservatoire Antoine was taught the violin by the violin virtuoso, pedagogue and composer Pierre Baillot. He also befriended Hector Berlioz there. A remarkable account of this friendship is an autograph manuscript of Berlioz’s Messe solennelle that was retrieved at the Antwerp St. Charles Borromeo Church in 1992. More than likely Bessems has participated in performances of Berlioz’s piece in Paris.
A large part of his career would take place in Paris, where he made a living as a violinist (both in chamber music settings as well as in various orchestras) and as a violin teacher. In between Bessems also performed concerts in Italy, Germany, England and in his hometown. In the middle of the 1840s for a while he even conducted the Antwerp concert association Société royale d’Harmonie d’Anvers and around that same time he also composed liturgical pieces for the Antwerp Cathedral, like his 1847 2me Messe solennelle à quatre voix (published in Repertoire explorer. The Flemish music collection, nr. 578). …
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