Devaere, Octaaf


Devaere, Octaaf

Cantilène, Mélodie, Offertoire, Noël for organ (first print, A4 landscape format)


Octaaf Devaere – Four Works for Organ

(Dentergem, 22 February 1865 – Kortrijk, 12 July 1941)


Octaaf Devaere was born on 22 February 1865 in Dentergem (province of West Flanders) as one half of a twin. In 1880 he moved to Torhout to study at the Normaal- en Kosterschool, a school to train teachers and sacristans. He received music lessons from the priest-in-training Alfons Mervillie (1856-1942), who would later make a name for himself as a poet and composer. It was under Mervillie’s influence that Devaere continued his studies at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels in 1883. There he studied the organ with Alphonse Mailly (1833-1918) and the latter’s assistant August De Boeck (1865-1937), resulting in a First Prize for organ in 1887.

That same year he became organist of St Martin’s church in Kortrijk; on this occasion his former teacher Mervillie wrote a poem of homage ‘To Sir Octaaf Devaere, on his appointment as organist of St Martin’s, Kortrijk’. On 9 March 1887 the new three-manual Schyven organ of St Martin’s church was inaugurated, which he was allowed to play together with his former teacher Mailly, among others. Devaere would remain organist of St Martin’s church until 1939; from the turn of the century until 1935 he combined this with the position of piano teacher at the Kortrijk municipal music academy.

In addition, he was frequently asked to play on new or renovated organs, such as the Anneessens organ in the St Rochus church in Kortrijk (20 September 1894), the Schyven organ in the St Hermes church in Ronse (6 May 1896), the Schyven organ in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw hospice in Kortrijk (20 September 1887) and the Van Peteghem organ from 1740 in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe church in Deinze (28 June 1926). Devaere had good contacts with the organ builders Anneessens-Marinus, for whom he inspected instruments, supervised repairs and renovations and drew up specifications.
On 14 June 1931 he inaugurated the new organ of St Peter’s Church in Nieuwkapelle, an instrument built by the Loncke brothers. At the time, Mervillie was the pastor of the rebuilt church in Nieuwkapelle that had been destroyed in the First World War.
On 24 October 1888, he married Hermine Basyn (1864-1905), who would die of tuberculosis in 1905 at the age of 41. They had twelve children, seven of whom died under the age of 27. The second son, André (1890-1914), was a talented pianist and composer who died as a soldier at the beginning of the First World War. His work was published earlier in this series (The Flemish Music Collection, vol. 531 & vol. 2541). Another son, the painter Antoon Devaere (1900-1989), testified about these sad times: ‘Father lived a very withdrawn life; since mother’s early death he felt lonely and was always in his study, playing the keyboard now and then. In the morning it was mostly scales or other studies for practice. In the evening we mostly heard Beethoven, Wagner, Liszt and Bach.’
In 1925 he married a second time, with a younger cousin of Alfons Mervillie, Rachelle (1880-1975), who had previously acted as governess to the Devaere family.

This edition contains all the preserved scores of Octaaf Devaere. His not always clearly written manuscripts were checked by Dirk Blockeel, current organist-titular of the Kortrijk St Martin’s Church, who pointed out stylistic similarities with composers such as Auguste Wiegand, Théodore Salomé and Oscar Van Durme. The scores were edited by Arian Sadrayi.

Tom Devaere
(translation: Jasmien Dewilde)

This score is published in cooperation with the Centre for the Study of Flemish Music (


Full Flemish and German preface > HERE

Score No.

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