Franz Andelhof took music lessons from organist and composer Joseph Robson in Turnhout and later in Antwerp from Peter Benoit, who he held in lifelong admiration. When in 1870 he was accepted as a member of the catholic citizens circle Amicitia of Turnhout, he performed his own piano work Hommage à Maximilien, empereur du Mexique. On 29 September 1874 the Turnhout city council appointed him as carilloneur. Barely two years later, on 19 August 1876, he handed in his resignation, after the city fathers had warned him about complaints from citizens about the indecent music he played on the carillon, referring to the ‘Geuzenlied’ of Alexander Fernau, which contains the text Van ‘t ongedierte der papen, verlost ons Vaderland! (From the Scum of the Papists, Deliver our Country!).
According to a biographical note from 1938, he erected a factory of brass instruments in 1878, supplying at the apex of its productive operation years equipment to the Belgian railways (‘tooter horns’/ hooters) as well as to the Dutch and the Indian army, but eventually failing owing to the low-quality standards of its products. In 1889 with the motto 'Native art on native soil' he opened his 'Free Flemish Music School of Turnhout' (not to be confused with the municipal music school), where he was teacher and director and where his son, the composer and conductor Augustin Andelhof, later also joined the teaching staff. Thus Andelhof sided with Benoit's objectives of native music education in the native language, as is also evident in his Theoretische en practische muziekleer, ten gebruike der lagere scholen, middelbare scholen en muziekscholen. Naar den algemeenen aanwijzer der Antwerpsche Muziekschool opgesteld (Theoretical and Practical Music Theory, for Use by the Primary Schools, Secondary Schools and Music Schools. Formulated according to the General Standard of the Antwerp Music School) (Gent, 1892).
As brass band conductor Franz Andelhof directed 'L'Echo de la Campine' and 'de Onafhankelijken' ('The Independent') of Turnhout, and in Beerse the brass band 'Condor'. He was also an honorary member of the brass band of Oostmalle. Franz Andelhof organised plenty of concerts with his music school, for instance in 1905 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Belgium's independence, and furthermore also mass singing sessions, exclusively with songs on Dutch-language texts.
According to the frontispiece of his above-mentioned music theory, he was laureate of composition contests in Toulouse (with his song les Adieux de la fiancée gasconne in 1887), Bayeux, Bordeaux and Paris (before 1892). Also in France he obtained a 'diplôme d'honneur' (third prize) in a competition organized by the music periodical Piano Soleil in Paris (800 entries, with Charles-Marie Widor as chairman of the jury), with the song Invocation on a text by the poet Lamartine.
Franz Andelhof is mainly remembered as composer of folk songs such as the very popular songs Het Lied van de Smid (The Song of the Smith, awarded a first prize at a composition contest of the city of Antwerp in 1905), Het Lied van Falderidijn, Dansen hopsasa, Lapper Jan, De Watermolen, De Krekel and De Koekoek (The Song of Falderidijn, Dancing Hopsasa, Cobbler John, The Water Mill, The Cricket, The Cuckoo). His oeuvre further includes Tarantella and Bacchusdans for orchestra, Im Walde (a waltz for orchestra, 1889), the cantatas Heil den Koning (Hail the King), Jubelcantate (Jubilation Cantata, 1888), Boudewijncantate and Turnhout's Glorie (1889, commissioned by his native town). He was also commissioned by the Belgian government to compose a Te Deum which, just like his Grote Mis in C (Great Mass in C major), was performed several times at Brussels St Michael's and St Gudule's Cathedral (c. 1894). In addition he composed children's songs such as Heidebloempjes (Little Heath Flowers), incidental works and several operettas and short operas, among them José-Maria (performed in Antwerp in 1900) and Colombina (idem, 1911). When his work had a Campine background, he sometimes made use of the pseudonym Franz Kempen.
In 1938 quite a lot of memorial concerts were given in Turnhout to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his death. On this occasion the alumni association of the State Secondary School in Turnhout, where he taught from 1883 to 1885, published an anthology of his folk songs "as devote honouring of master Franz Andelhof's memory". In Turnhout he is remembered by a street named after him as well as with a memorial monument. The Municipal Archives hold a collection of manuscripts.
© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek vzw - Annelies Focquaert (translation: Jo Sneppe)
[last update: 07/07/2015]