Gilson, Paul, notable Belgian composer, pedagogue, and writer on music; b. Brussels, June 15, 1865; d. there, April 3, 1942. He studied with Auguste Cantillon (theory) and Charles Duyck (harmony) before pursuing his training at the Brussels Cons. (1887-89) with Gevaert (composition), where he won the Belgian Prix de Rome with his cantata Sinai (1889). His orch. work La mer (1892) placed him in the forefront of Belgian musical life. During the following decade, he composed his finest scores before concentrating on teaching and writing. He was prof. of harmony at the Brussels Cons. (1899-1909) and the Antwerp Cons. (1904-09), and then was inspector of music education in the Belgian schools (1909-30). He was music critic of Le Soir (1906-14), Le Diapson (1910-14), and of Midi. In 1925 a group of his students formed the Synthetistes to carry on his ideals, which led to the founding of the journal Revue Musicale Beige. Gilson’s compositions reflect the considerable gifts of a traditionalist.
(all publ. in Brussels unless otherwise given): Le tutti orchestral (1913); Traite d’harmonie (1919); Quintes, octaves, secondes et polytonie (1921); Manuel de musique militaire (Antwerp, 1926); Notes de musique et souvenirs (1942).
DRAMATIC Opera : Le demon (1890; Mons, April 9, 1893); Primes Zonneschijn (Antwerp, Oct. 10, 1903; as La princesse Rayon de Soleil, Brussels, Sept. 9, 1905); Gens de mer (Antwerp, Oct. 15, 1904; in French, Brussels, Dec. 16, 1929); Rooversliefde (Antwerp, Jan. 30, 1910). B a 1 1 e t : La captive (1896-1900); Les deux bossus (1910-21). ORCH.: Concertino for Flute and Orch. (1882-1920); Suite (1885); 3 Pieces (1885-92); 3 melodies populaires flamandes for Strings (1891-92); Melodies ecossaises for Strings (1891-92); Suites (1891-1941); La mer (Brussels, March 20, 1892); Overture dramatique (1900; Brussels, Jan. 13, 1901); 2 saxophone concertos (1902); Theme et variations or Variations symphoniques (1903; Brussels, Nov. 8, 1908); Romance-fantaisie for Violin and Orch. (1903); Troisieme ouverture symphonique (1903-04); Concertstiick for Trumpet and Orch. (1905-06); Andante et scherzo for Cello and Orch. (1906); Prelude symphonique: Le chant du coq (1906); Prelude pour le drame “Henry VIII” de Shakespeare (1906-16; Brussels, May 26, 1918); Symphonie inaugurate (1909-10); Suite a la maniere ancienne for Strings (1913-14); Cavatina (1921); Epithalame (1925); Cinq para-phrases sur des chansons populaires flamanade (1929); Preludes hebraujues (1934); Caledonia (1939); Scherzando for Piano and Orch. (1941); numerous pieces for Wind or Brass Band. CHAMBER: 2 string quartets (1907; 1918-19); Trio for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1934); suites; many piano pieces. VOCAL: C a n t a t a s : Aw bois des elfes (1887), Sinai (1889), Et la lumiere descend sur tous (1896), Hymne a I’art (1897), Ludus pro patria (1905) and La voix de la foret (1934). O r a t o r i o : Francesca da Rimini (1892).
G. Brenta, P. G. (Brussels, 1965).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire