Royal Conservatory of Brussels

Coordinates: 50°50′20″N 4°21′21″E / 50.8390°N 4.3558°E / 50.8390; 4.3558
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Royal Conservatory of Brussels
  • Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles (French)
  • Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel (Dutch)
Royal Conservatory of Brussels
TypePublic Higher School of Arts (French-speaking entity)
School of Arts under Erasmus University College (Dutch-speaking entity)
AffiliationWBE (French-speaking entity)
EhB (Dutch-speaking entity)
DirectorPeter Swinnen (Flemish entity)
Frédéric de Roos (French entity)
Location, (Flemish entity) (French entity)

The Royal Conservatory of Brussels (French: Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles, Dutch: Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel) is a historic conservatory in Brussels, Belgium. Starting its activities in 1813, it received its official name in 1832. Providing performing music and drama courses, the institution became renowned partly because of the international reputation of its successive directors such as François-Joseph Fétis, François-Auguste Gevaert, Edgar Tinel, Joseph Jongen and Marcel Poot, but more because it has been attended by many of the top musicians, actors and artists in Belgium such as Arthur Grumiaux, José Van Dam, Sigiswald Kuijken, Josse De Pauw, Luk van Mello and Luk De Konink. Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone, also studied at the Brussels Conservatory.

In 1967, the institution split into two separate entities: the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel, which teaches in Dutch, and the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles, which continued teaching in French. While the French-speaking entity remained an independent public institution of higher education (École supérieure des arts), the Flemish entity integrated into the newly created Erasmus University College as one of its Schools of Arts.


The current Royal Conservatory building consists of three wings arranged around a courtyard and is the work of architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar, built to his designs between 1872 and 1876.

The style is neo-Renaissance, influenced by the Lescot Wing of the Louvre. The decoration of the facade is very elaborate, with five separate pediment sculptures (Instrumental Music by the Liège sculptor Adolphe Fassin, Orchestration by Charles van der Stappen, Composition by the Antwerp sculptor Frans Deckers, Performing Arts by Antoine-Félix Bouré, and Poetry by the Tournai sculptor Barthélemy Frison) and other incidental work including garlands, caryatids, palm trees and musical instruments by the sculptors Georges Houtstont, Paul de Vigne, Antoine van Rasbourg, Auguste Braekevelt, and Égide Mélot.

Auxiliary activities[edit]


Each year a variety of regular student concerts and performances is organised by the Conservatory, boasting over hundred events and enhanced by two festivals.

The right wing of the Conservatory contains a 600 seats ornate concert hall in Napoleon III style with exceptional acoustic qualities, equipped with a Cavaillé-Coll organ.

Concert hall of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels

Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)[edit]

Founded in 1877 to provide students with a practical education about ancien instruments, the Conservatory museum, currently referred to as the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) of Brussels displays over 8,000 ancient instruments acquired by the celebrated musicologist François-Joseph Fétis, rare pieces from the initial collection, from the various funds or from new acquisitions.[1][2] Since 2000, the museum, one of the most important ones of its kind, is located in the prestigious Art Nouveau building conceived in 1899 by the architect Paul Saintenoy for the former Old England department store.[3]


Initially created with a pedagogic aim, the Conservatory library hosts about 250,000 [citation needed] references, representing a scientific instrument of international resonance.

Library of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, c. 1960

It primarily consists of works about music (including more than 1200 musical or musicological periodicals), as well as of autograph, printed or digitized (scanned) scores. There is also an important collection of more than 8.000 libretti of Italian, French or German operas from the XVIIe and XVIIIe s., lute and guitar tablatures, several thousands of handwritten letters of musicians, iconographic documents (over 9.000 pieces), concert programmes and various types of recordings (magnetic tapes, video, 78 and 33 rpm vinyl, CD, etc.).

Next to the core collections, the library possesses several subcollections of historical importance, together forming an extensive patrimony:

The library is open to the general public. In 2015, the library acquired the score collection of CeBeDeM (Belgian Centre for Music Documentation). In doing so it also took over the latter's objectives in promoting Belgian contemporary music worldwide.[4]

Personalities linked to the Royal Conservatory of Brussels[edit]


François-Joseph Fétis, first director of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels

Directors of the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles[edit]

Directors of the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel[edit]

  • 1966–1994: Kamiel D'Hooghe (in Dutch)
  • 1994–2004: Arie Van Lysebeth (in Dutch)
  • 2004–2008: Rafael D'haene
  • 2008–2017: Peter Swinnen
  • 2017–2021: Kathleen Coessens
  • 2021–present: Jan D'haene

Notable faculty[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]



  1. ^ Damscrhroder 1990, p. 85.
  2. ^ State 2015, p. 166.
  3. ^ "Old England – Inventaire du patrimoine architectural". (in French). Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  4. ^ "CeBeDeM collection". Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles. Retrieved 15 February 2024.
  5. ^ Henri, Vanhulst (2008). "Fétis directeur du Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles". Revue Belge de Musicologie (in French). 62: 127–133.
  6. ^ Henri, Vanhulst (2011). "Gevaert directeur du Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles". Revue Belge de Musicologie (in French). 65: 9–19.
  7. ^ J.M. Thomson (20 January 2001). "Jennings, Anthony". Grove Music Online (8th ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.42592. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0.


External links[edit]

50°50′20″N 4°21′21″E / 50.8390°N 4.3558°E / 50.8390; 4.3558