Belgium Music

Belgium Music

Musical life

According to educationvv, contemporary Belgian musical life is also characterized primarily by internationally significant conservatories (including in Brussels and Liège), traditional orchestras such as the Orchester National de Belgique in Brussels, renowned opera houses in Antwerp and Brussels (royal opera house “La Monnaie” or “De Munt”)) and numerous festivals, especially for rock and pop music. Important centers for contemporary music are Ghent (Institute for Psychoacoustic and Electroacoustic Music), Antwerp (Studio for Experimental Music) and Brussels (Belgian Broadcasting). Internationally known classical artists were or are the opera singers Jozef Sternes (* 1893, † 1952) and Jules Bastin (* 1933, † 1996), who a.o. also interpreted Walloon folk tunes, and J. van Dam, the conductor A. Cluytens, the violinist A. Grumiaux and the countertenor and specialist in historical performance practice R. Jacobs.

Folk, rock and pop music

After folk music led a shadowy existence in Belgium for decades, there are now more ensembles that maintain these traditions and keep ballads, songs and dances from Flanders and Wallonia alive. At the same time, folkloric elements found e.g. T. Entrance to contemporary jazz, pop and rock music. Traditional folk musical instruments are the rommelpot (drum), violin, hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes (bagpipe), shawm and dulzian. The culture and music of Flemings and Walloons are dedicated today, inter alia. the “Center cultural Brabant wallon” and the “Study Center voor Vlaamse Muziek” with events, research and documentation.

Among the Flemish pop and folk artists include the dialect singer Ivan Heylen (* 1946) and Walter De Buck (* 1934, † 2014), who in 1970 founded the “Gentse Fieste”. Wannes Van de Velde (* 1937, † 2008), who also emerged as a poet and sculptor, primarily ensured a renaissance of the Flemish folk song. On the other hand, the band “De Elegastenoder” attracted attention with political protest songs, while the group “Kate’s Kennel” was particularly active in the 1970s. As a country singer, entertainer, songwriter and others. launched Bobbejaan Schoepen (* 1925, † 2010) after the war his career and represented Belgium in 1957 at the Euro Vision Song Contest. Will Tura (* 1940) landed its first pop hit in Flemish in 1962, and a few years later the hippie singer Ferre Grignard (* 1939, † 1982) caused scandals with provocative protest songs such as “My crucified Jesus”. The most successful pop artists include Johan Verminnen (* 1951), Raymond van het Groenewoud (* 1950), Kris de Bruyne (* 1950, † 2021), Kate Ryan (* 1980) and H. Lotti.

Many Flemish musicians only achieved their artistic breakthrough beyond their national borders. The best-known example of this is the chanson singer J. Brel, who also addressed the political-cultural division of the country in his (Flemish) songs. For S. Adamo of Italian origin, France became a springboard for an international career.

The Walloon folk and pop music other hand, leads a shadowy existence. The band “Coïncidence” has been successful since the late 1990s with a mixture of French chanson and Celtic folklore, while Luc Pilartz  - among others. with his ensemble “Violon Nomade” – not only bringing old Walloon (dance) tunes to life on violin and bagpipes and Claude Flagel (* 1954) places the hurdy-gurdy both as an interpreter and as a composer at the center of his folkloric work.

Today, Belgium is primarily a Mecca for electronic rock and pop music. The band Telex, which became internationally known with the title “Moskow Diskow”, did pioneering work here at the end of the 1970s shaped the pop music scene. At the end of the 1980s the New Beat movement developed from this (Praga Khan, also Lords of Acid, actually Maurice Engelen), before techno music found its way in 1990. Well-known younger electronic artists / bands include Acid Kirk (* 1972) and Arne van Petegem (* 1973) and the bands “Goose,” “Vive la Fête”, the duo “Shameboy” and the trip-hop band “Hooverphonic” that “mainly by the soundtrack to the film Stealing Beauty” (1996) by B. Bertolucci known became. To this day, the pop artists mainly appear in special clubs in the major cities of Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent. In addition, international festivals such as “Laundry Day” or “Tomorrowland” have established themselves as permanent fixtures in the electronic pop music scene.


The guitarist D. Reinhardt with his mixture of New Orleans jazz, French waltzes and gypsy music is considered a pioneer not only of Belgian but also European jazz music in general. Since then, an active jazz music scene has developed with internationally known bands and musicians. These include: the composer, guitarist and harmonica player T. Thielemans ; Axelle Red (* 1968), who also appears as a chanson singer; the guitarist Ph. Catherine; the saxophonist Fabrizio Cassol (* 1964), who founded the jazz band “Aka Moon” and as a pioneer on the aulochrome, a double soprano saxophone, is applicable; the vibraphonist Fats Sadi (actually Sadi Lallemand, * 1927, † 2009) and the pianists Michel Herr (* 1949) and Kris Defoort (* 1959). Important (avant-garde) jazz bands are »Mâäk’s Spirit«, »Octurn«, the Brussels Jazz Orchestra and the stylistically hard to define crossover formation »Vaya Con Dios«. In addition, numerous festivals enliven the music scene, such as the Gent Jazz Festival, the Belgian Jazz Meeting in Liège, the Brussels Jazz Marathon and the »Djano @ Liberchies« festival founded in honor of Reinhardt.

Belgium Music

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