After jobs as a school teacher in Roeselare and private teacher with a noble family in Germany, Antheunis returned to Belgium in 1861 to become a teacher in Dendermonde. He studied law at the State University of Ghent (1862-1866), concurrently earning a degree for French singing (1864) at the Municipal Conservatory of Ghent. He made a career in the magistrature, becoming justice of the peace in Torhout, Halle and Elsene, but at the same time he was active as a poet and man of letters. His texts were set to music by composers such as Eduard Blaes, Pierre and Willem De Mol (Ik ken een lied/ I know a song), François-Auguste Gevaert (Vers l’avenir), Karel Miry, Paul Lebrun, Maria Simonis de Berlare and Jan Van den Eeden. He himself was also a composer of songs: as such in 1877 he published his anthology Liederkrans uit de Loverkens van Hoffmann von Fallersleben (Songbook from the Spangles of Hoffmann von Fallersleben) and composed songs and choral works, some of them published in the series Nederlandsche zangstukken met klavierbegeleiding (Dutch Tunes with Piano Accompaniment) of the Willems Fund, a liberal cultural society. In 1874 he was awarded a prize by the Antwerp Chamber of Rhetoric 'de Olijftak' (The Olive Branch) at a poetry and song competition, winning the First Prize for a love song and a popular song. He wrote the music as well as the text for his best-known song Mijn Vlaanderen heb ik hartelijk lief (My Flanders I love with all my heart). Furthermore he also translated into French or German oratorios, cantatas and operas on Dutch texts of writers such as Emmanuel Hiel and his father-in-law Hendrik Conscience, but also works such as Bach's St Matthew Passion (at Gevaert's request).
© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek vzw - Annelies Focquaert (translation: Jo Sneppe)