Buyst, Palmyre


Buyst, Palmyre

Nocturne in f for piano solo (first print)



Palmyre Buyst

(Ledeberg, 22 November 1875 – Bouillon, 4 August 1957)

Nocturne in F minor

Palmyre Buyst started her musical education at the Conservatoire of Ghent at the age of seven. She obtained a first prize in solfège (1890), harmony and practical harmony (1892), piano (1892, Magna cum laude), and chamber music (1894). She received a qualification diploma as a pianist in 1894 with Edouard Potjes (1860-1931). One year later she was awarded greatest distinction for her first prize in fugue with Adolphe Samuel (1824-1898), head of the conservatoire. Later, Buyst studied with Arthur De Greef (1862-1940), a pupil of Franz Liszt and a close friend of Edvard Grieg. After completing her education, she was appointed as an accompanist (1895) and assistant teacher piano (1901) at the conservatoire. From 1910 to 1929, she taught at a teacher training institution. Her solo and chamber music performances were met with positive reviews in contemporary music magazines. Le guide musical celebrated her virtuoso technique and flawless playing, stylistic maturity, delicate touch, and strong chamber music capacities. She formed a fixed duo with violinist Nicolas Laoureux, with whom she also organised a concert series in the Ravenstein Hall in Brussels.

Palmyre Buyst was an active composer, producing an oeuvre ranging from piano and organ work, chamber music and songs to religious music, orchestral work and cantates. Her entire musical legacy, including concert programmes, photographs, newspaper clippings and letters, was donated to the Ghent Conservatoire in 1996 by her relative Pierre Van Melle. Buyst’s daughter Jeanne (Jane) Vignery (1913-1974) was a violinist and composer and would also become a teacher at the Ghent Conservatoire.

The Nocturne in F minor is an early work dating back to Buyst’s student years. Apart from the final version, the Conservatoire of Ghent possesses a working version with corrections, both in handwriting. The charming nocturne is romantic in conception, with sumptuous gestures and expressive sequences leading to sentimental climaxes. Its harmonies are often rich and complex in their chromaticism. Heavy Wagnerian chords and sighing motifs are alternated with simpler sections evoking salon music or dance. The nocturne starts with a two-bar andante introduction of the accompaniment figure, on which the melody unfolds. The first theme sits quietly on the undulating dynamics of the sixteenth notes in the accompaniment. Gradually, there is more propagation in the melody, until a C major-theme (piano leggiero) enters, characterised by a downward leap in dotted rhythm followed by rising triplet figures. Subsequently, typical nocturne guirlandes are inserted. The section closes with a long fermate, upon which a third theme develops, also in C major but in 3/4. Notwithstanding the slower tempo (adagio), this passage has dance-like qualities. The third theme is followed by a variant of the second theme, in 3/4 and F major. After its development and culmination in a free cadenza, the different themes are restated. The opening theme, in D flat major, is followed by the second and third themes (both in A flat major). An arabesque leads towards the reprise of the opening theme in the original key, the second theme in an unstable, modulating version in ternary metre, and the third theme in A flat major. A final reminiscence of the first theme winds down the piece in perdendosi fashion.

Liselotte Sels

This score was published in collaboration with the Study Centre for Flemish Music ( and Labo XIX&XX, a research group of the library of the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp. Liselotte Sels edited this score based on the autograph manuscript, which is housed in the library of the Royal Conservatory of Ghent (place number: II 16261). This publication is part of the research project ‘”Flemish wings”: unheard piano music on contemporary instruments’


Read Flemish preface > HERE

Score Data

Special Edition

The Flemish Music Collection


Solo Instrument


225 x 320 mm


First print



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