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Research seminar On Nineteenth-Century Historically Informed Performance on the Saxophone

Wednesday 9 June 2021, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Kurt Bertels (LUCA School of Arts Campus Lemmens)

This paper sheds new light on the historically informed performance of the saxophone, which is not common in the field of the instrument. In the first section, it will focus on the context of nineteenth-century Brussels, from the emergence of the saxophone in 1841 to the end of the saxophone class in the Brussels Royal Conservatory in 1904. Thanks to its usefulness as a wind-band instrument, the emergence in Belgium of the saxophone is, like in France, linked with Belgian military bands. The most prestigious military band, the Royal Symphonic Band of the Belgian Guides, adopted the saxophones in 1849. In order to organize an adequate education in Brussels, the Royal Conservatory started with its first class in 1867. JeanValentin Bender (1801-1873), the first Kapellmeister of the Royal Symphonic Band of the Belgian Guides and François-Joseph Fétis (1784-1871), the first director of the Brussels Royal Conservatory, played an important role in the development of the saxophone in Brussels. In what context was this saxophone course set up? Who were its teachers and students? And what do unexplored sources (instrumental methods, historical recordings and instruments, manuscripts) reveal about the performance of the nineteenth-century saxophone repertoire?

In the second section, the presentation will concentrate on my current research project which focuses on the phenomenon of dedication in early-20th-century saxophone music in general and the dedicatee’s role in particular. This study aims at analysing the enduring importance of dedications in music after the 19th century as well as the decisive role of the performer-dedicatee. Two pioneering saxophonists to whom compositions were dedicated serve as case studies: Elise Hall (1853-1924) and Sigurd Rascher (1907-2001).

Join seminar on Zoom

Meeting ID: 915 8006 2656
Passcode: 840125

About the speaker:

Dr. Kurt Bertels (°1989) is postdoctoral researcher and professor of (historical & modern) Saxophone at LUCA School of Arts Campus Lemmens (Belgium). Enriching his performances with artistic research, Bertels brings the (Belgian) saxophone repertoire into the limelight. As a performer, he is invited to share his work in Europe, Asia, Oceania and in the U.S. He is a member and artistic leader of Kugoni Trio (saxophone/violin/piano) and works with pianist Bert Koch. As a soloist, he obtained prizes at national/international competitions and was awarded with the Fuga Trophee of the Union of the Belgian Composers for promoting Belgian music. In his doctoral research, Kurt Bertels conducted research on the history of the first Brussels saxophone class at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels (1867-1904). His research focused on the context, repertoire and performance practice of saxophonists who studied at the Brussels Conservatory. He has given lectures/masterclasses in Belgium and abroad on historical saxophone practice. His postdoctoral research focuses on dedicating music for saxophone during the first half of the twentieth century. The final aim is to perform the scores, written for Elise Hall and Sigurd Rascher, in a historical way. In 2020, Bertels published his first monograph on the nineteenth-century saxophone performance (ASP Editions). He also released various CDs with 19th-century Belgian saxophone music, in the hope that it will assist the saxophone to find its rightful place in historically informed performance practice. With The 19thCentury Saxophone in Brussels, Bertels presents 19th-century Brussels chamber music repertoire. In collaboration with Flanders Symphony Orchestra, Bertels presents the very first saxophone concertos with his CD Works for Saxophone and Orchestra by Paul Gilson. His discography also includes Through Time (2013), Mockingbird (2015), Fingerprints#2 (2016), Timelapse (2016), Klapzoen (2017), Fingerprints#3 (2019) and Essence by Kugoni Trio (2019). Bertels is an endorsing artist of Légère Reeds and is a member of the Young Academy of Flanders (Belgium).

Location: Online (Zoom)