Jean Absil

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Jean Absil (October 23, 1893 – February 2, 1974) was a Belgian modernist music composer, organist, and professor at the Brussels Conservatory.


Absil was born in Bonsecours, Hainaut, Belgium. He was a pupil of Alphonse Oeyen, organist at the basilica of Bonsecours. From 1913 he studied organ and harmony at the Brussels Conservatory , but upon graduating, decided to concentrate on composition instead. In 1922 Absil won the Belgian Prix de Rome and in 1934 the Prix Rubens, which allowed him to travel to Paris, France. Here, he met fellow contemporary composers Ibert, Milhaud, and Honegger. Absil gained international prominence with the premiere of his first piano concerto (op. 30).In 1930, Absil began teaching harmony at the Brussels Conservatory, becoming a professor of Fugue 6 years later. Amongst his pupils there was Paul Danblon. He also taught at Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth and the Etterbeek Music School. In 1955, he was elected to the Belgium Royal Academy. In 1974, at the age of 80, Absil died in Uccle, Brussels.


Initially, Absil was influenced by the late Romantic school, particularly Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. Around the time Absil made his trip to Paris in 1934, Absil began to adopt a more modern style. This included the use of polyphony and polymodal structures, influenced by contemporary composers such as Milhaud and Schoenberg.

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