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Pieter Leemans

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Pieter Leemans


Pieter (or Pierre) Leemans (31 May 1897, Schaarbeck, Belgium - 10 January 1980, Elsene, Belgium) was a Belgian composer of marches and classical music, a musician who had profound influence on Belgian bands and Belgian music in general.

He studied piano, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration and composition from 1919-1922 with J. Sevenants, M. Lunssens, and Paul Gilson. After serving in the Belgian Army in 1919, he earned a degree which enabled him to teach and became a music teacher at the Schaarbeek High School.

He later acquired a similar post at Etterbeek Music Academy, which was located in another part of Brussels. He resigned in 1932 to work with the official broadcasting company, N.I.R. [now BRT-RTB], as pianist, conductor, and program director. In this position, he was accompanist for recitals, radio plays, and auditions.

In 1934, he won the composition contest for the official march of the Brussels World Exhibition (1935). The following year, he won the competition for the official Old Brussels march. In 1940, Leemans founded the Schaarbeek High School Choir and won another contest in 1943 for the composition of school songs. From 1943-1945, he served as conductor of the Philharmonic Society in Brussels. In 1945, his Dirge for the Fallen Heroes (of World War II) won another award. That same year, his Marche des Parachutistes was adopted as the official march of the Belgian paratroopers, and, in 1946, his March of the Commandos was adopted as the official march of the Belgian Commandos. In 1947, he became the Belgian delegate to the Geneva Congress for the normalization of music notation.

In 1958, he won still another contest by composing Expo 58, the official march of the Brussels World's Fair. Interestingly, he won both first and second prizes in this competition over a total of 109 entries. In addition to his marches, Leemans has also written songs, choral music, film scores, chamber music and orchestral works.

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