Samuel was born in Liège. He spent much time in Brussels where he was a pupil of François-Joseph Fétis, and where he was a friend of Hector Berlioz. He also studied with Joseph Daussoigne-Méhul at the Royal Conservatory of Liège.
He began to study music at the Liege Conservatory of Louis-Joseph Dossuan and Etienne Subra. In 1838, together with his family moved to Brussels and continued his studies at the Brussels Conservatory with François-Joseph Fétis (counterpoint), Charles Bosle (harmony), Jean-Baptiste Mischlo (clavier) and KF Hirschner (organ). For the first time he was noticed by the general public, accompanying the violinist Charles Auguste de Bériot on the piano as part of the young Pauline Viardot's concert tour.
Samuel, who won the Belgian Prix de Rome in 1845 by the cantata "Vendetta", went to Rome through Germany and Austria, met on the road with Felix Mendelssohn, Giacomo Meyerbeer and Ferdinand Hiller. In Rome, he worked on the opera Giovanni da Procida and the Second Symphony, premiered by Fétis in Brussels in 1849 after the return of Samuel. 1850's in the works of Samuel were under the sign of the influence of Hector Berlioz (their friendship began with an enthusiastic review of the London premiere of the opera Berlioz "Benvenuto Cellini", which Samuel published in Belgium).
Samuel became in 1860 Professor of Harmony in Brussels and 1871 Conservative Director of Ghent. In 1865 he founded in Brussels a series of public concerts, based on the model of Jules Pasdeloup, during which he promoted the music of contemporary composers, especially Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt. With this he wanted to make classical music accessible to everyone and to promote the musical and intellectual level of the Brussels people.
Since 1871, he headed the Ghent Conservatory , in Ghent also acted as an adherent of a new German school; the last concert Samuel conducted shortly before his death was completely composed of orchestral fragments of Wagner.
In 1871, after conducting an orchestra for some years and (beginning in 1865) directing a series of Popular Concerts in which works by Peter Leonard Leopold Benoit and Anton Rubinstein among others were featured, Samuel resigned and became director of the Ghent Conservatory.
Samuel's own compositional work combines the influences of Berlioz, Wagner and Liszt. His central works are the monumental program Sixth (1891) and the Seventh (1893) symphony (the program of the first of them is based on the Old Testament, the second - on the New: in these last years of life, Samuel, a Jew by birth, was baptized and became a Catholic).
Conversion and death
In 1895 Samuel was baptized and became a Catholic Christian, converted himself from Judaism late in life. He died in Ghent. At the composer's wish, his mass was presented during his funeral. His son Eugene Samuel was also a composer.
In his homeland, he enjoyed the reputation of composer of five operas (1845–54), cantats (and a cantata for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the coronation of Belgium's first king, Leopold I (1856, L'union fait la force)., choir songs, motets, two string quartets, seven symphonies (1846–94), and driving symphony Christ, as well as performer as a music publisher, including a harmonic (1867). He was also music journalist at Le Télégraphe, National, La Civilization, L'Echo de Bruxelles, L'indépendance belge, La Revue trimesterielle, L'Art universel and La Flandre libérale.
- Il a rêvé, comic opera, 1845
- La Vendetta, Cantata, 1845
- 1st Symphony op.8, 1846
- 2nd Symphony op.9, 1847
- Giovanni da Procida, Great Opera, 1847
- Madeleine , comic opera, (libretto: Gustave Vaëz), 1850
- Roland à Ronceveaux, Poème symphonique, 1850
- Les Deux Précendants, comic opera, (libretto: Louis Schoonen), 1851
- L'Heure de la retraite, Comic Opera, (Libretto: Eugène van Bemmel), 1854
- Cantate du jubilée, cantata, 1855
- L'union fait la force, cantata, 1856
- 3rd Symphony op.28, 1858
- Cantate nationale, cantata op.29, 1859
- 4th Symphony op.33, 1863
- 5th Symphony op.35, 1869
- De Wederkomst, cantata, op.38, 1875
- Leopold I, cantata, 1880
- 6th Symphony (Symphony à program) op. 44, 1889
- 7th Symphony "Christ" op. 48, 1893
- Dewilde, Jan (2006). "Samuel – Symphonie Nr. 6 op. 44" (in German, Dutch, and French). Munich: Musikproduktion Jurgen Hoeflich. Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
- "Berlioz in Belgium". Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
- Denis Havard de la Montagne. "Joseph Daussoigne-Méhul". www.musimem.com.
- Pratt, Mendel: The History of Music: A Handbook and Guide for Students at Google Books, page 588.
- Opera Glass
- Symphony no. 7 Op.48 "Christus" of 1894, in manuscript can be found described here: OCLC 915592473. See also Studiecentrum Vlaamse Muziek page below.