Mestdagh, Karel

Sint-Pieters (Brugge), 22/10/1850 > Sint-Pieters (Brugge), 10/03/1924


Mestdagh, Karel

by Jan Dewilde

Karel Mestdagh received his initial musical education from his father, who was a sexton-schoolmaster. He also had the advantage of meeting good teachers. Among them at the Bruges Saint-Louis' college were Hugo Verriest and Busschaert, who made him discover Bach and Palestrina, and at the Bruges municipal music school he was trained by Hendrik Waelput and Leo van Gheluwe. Later he studied with François-Auguste Gevaert and Peter Benoit as well. Between 1867-1870 Mestdagh undertook a long journey through Germany, where he studied in Leipzig. On his return he established business as a surveyor but that did not prevent him from concurrently being quite active as a composer. Above all he would make his mark as a composer of songs.

In March 1891 the Brussels circle 'l'Essor' devoted an evening to his songs, which were to be published by Breitkopf & Härtel and get favourable reviews. On 20 October 1900 he succeeded Van Gheluwe as director of the Bruges music school, a position which he held until his death in 1924.

In 1902 on the occasion of the 600th commemoration of the Battle of the Spurs he wrote the cantata De zege van Groeninge (The Groeninge Victory) based on a text by Théodore Sevens. This cantata was created on 17 August 1902, conducted by the composer.

© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek vzw - Jan Dewilde (translation: Jo Sneppe)