Désiré Feldbusch, better known as Eric Feldbusch (the name he chose when he started his career as a cellist), was born in Grivegnée (an outskirt of Liège in Belgium), on March 2, 1922, and died in Wavre on August 30, 2007. He was not only a famous cellist but also a good composer and conductor.
After a first formation as a cellist with a family friend, he entered (aged of 12 years) the Conservatoire Royal de Liège where, in 1939, he obtained his “Diplôme Supérieur”. In the war’s years he was member of the Orchestra of the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth, in Brussels, the place where the Queen Elisabeth gathered, and protected, the best musicians of her kingdom. In the fifties he went to Paris, where he studied with the well-known cellist Maurice Maréchal. In 1963 he became teacher and then Director of the Conservatoire de Mons. Later, from 1974 to 1987, he became the Director of the French section of the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles.
Fin dall’inizio, anche come allievo, fu considerato uno dei migliori violoncellisti belgi. Si esibì in Francia, Italia, Germania, Svizzera, Austria, Lussemburgo, Gran Bretagna, Paesi Bassi, Spagna, Repubblica Ceca, Congo, Egitto, Israele e negli Stati Uniti.
Since the beginning, even as a pupil, he was considered as one of the best Belgian cellists. He performed in France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Great Britain, Netherlands, Spain, Czech Republic, Congo, Egypt, Israel and in the United States. He also was fond of chamber music and so, in 1949, he was one of the founders of the Quatuor Municipal de la Ville de Liège, together with the violinists Henri and Emmanuel Koch and Louis Poulet (viola). In 1964, he founded the Trio Reine Elisabeth de Belgique (together with the violinist Carlo Van Neste and the pianist Naum Sluszny). From 1960 to 1964, he also was the cello solo of the Orchestre Philarmonique de Liège.
Since 1964, Eric Feldbusch performed also as conductor. The musicians who had him as conductor remembered his sober and precise gesture: he did not like the spectacular effects. He performed in the most important cities of Belgium, and worked with many orchestras: the Orchestre symphonique et the Orchestre de Chambre RTB/BRT, the Orchestre Symphonique de Liège, the Orchestre National de Metz, the Orchestre National d’Île-de-France, the Israel Sinfonietta in Israel, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in the United States.
As a composer, he produced more than one hundred and fifty musical pieces, of every kind and for every musical staff. Among his compositions, there are a lot of pieces featuring a cello, alone or with other musical instruments.
For example Mosaïque, op.24 n.1 , Prélude, op. 83 (cello and piano), Petite Suite, op.1, n.13 (cello solo), Cadence et Allegro, op. 13 (cello et piano), Sonatine, op.78 (for 2 cellos), Trio for cello, flute and violon, op.31.1, Concerto pour violoncelle et orchestre, op.80 n.1, Adagio à la mémoire de Hubert Rogister, op.23, n.2 (for 8 cellos and string orchestra), Pastels, op.89 (for cello and guitar), …For the complete list, see below the link to the site of the Foundation.
In recognition of his merits, Feldbusch has been honored by several prestigious awards, among others: the Médaille de la résistance armée (1940-1945), the Decoration of Grand Officier de l’Ordre de la Couronne et de l’Ordre Léopold II, the Prix de Virtuosité du Gouvernement Belge unanimously and with the congratulations of the Jury (1939), the Prix Pablo Casals (1947), the Prix d’Honneur du public au premier Concours International de Violoncelle de Prague (1952), the Prix Fuga “pour sa contribution à la promotion de la musique belge” (1984), the Prix SABAM de la Musique Sérieuse (1997).
During his career, Eric Feldbusch owned two cellos. His first one was a George Heynberg of 1932 (Belgian stringed instrument maker). The second one was a Gagliano (built in 1820). But the best cello he played in his life was certainly the Stradivari “Servais”, when he had the opportunity to play it during a recital in Washington, at the Belgian Embassy, where he played his own Mosaïque, op.24 n.1 and Morceau de Concert, op.14 by Servais. At that occasion, Eric Feldbusch said about Servais: “C’est grâce à lui que cet instrument a obtenu ses lettres de noblesses et que l’École qu’il a créée à Bruxelles d’abord, à Moscou et Paris ensuite, a marqué de son empreinte toutes les générations de virtuoses qui ont suivi”.
His cello Gagliano, owned by the Foundation Eric Feldbusch, is currently lent to the cellist Olsi Leka, cello solo of the Orchestre National de Belgique and teacher at the conservatoria of Brussels and Antwerpen.
In 2010, Jean Paul Feldbusch, Eric Feldbusch’s son, decided to set up a foundation dedicated to his father. So, on December 15, 2010, the Foundation privée Eric Feldbusch was born. The members of the Board of the Foundation are presently Jean Paul Feldbusch (Founder/Chairman), Brigitte Feldbusch-Adriaensens, Francis Navaux, Bruno Dunkel and Frans Declerck. Olsi Leak is the musical advisor.
The main purpose of the Foundation consists of providing information, promote and protect the work inherited from Eric Feldbusch. If a cellist wants to play one of the Feldbusch’s cello compositions (or another different piece), he may contact the Foundation and will receive all the information he needs. Many scores may be found via this link.
The Foundation’s work, however, is not concentrated only on Eric Feldbusch, but has the broader objective of promoting the Belgian composers and the young Belgian and European cellists. Every year, during the International Cello Competition Edmon Baert (organized by the Musical Academy of the municipality Woluwé-Saint-Pierre in Brussels), the Eric Feldbusch Foundation Prize awards the best interpretation of the two imposed pieces for cello written by Eric Feldbusch. It also supports young cello students, by lending cellos and bows and sustains concerts and other events linked to musical art, especially of Belgian composers.
The Foundation keeps a rich collection of scores, documents, photos, disks and CD and other materials having a direct or indirect link with Eric Feldbusch. And hopefully, the collection will become richer day by day.
TO KNOW MORE
VIDEO ON YOUTUBE
ANTONIO VIVALDI, Cello Concerto in D Major, RV 404: I. Allegro – II. Adagio affettuoso – III. Allegro vivace (To listen to Feldbusch playing as solo cello)
JOHANNES BRAHMS, Trio in A major (To listen to Feldbusch playing in a trio)
ANDRÈ JEAN SMIT, Smaragdos (To listen to an orchestra conducted by Feldbusch)