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Diplomatic World_nummer 56.

THE HEART OF BRUSSELS

THE HEART OF BRUSSELS BEATS AT THE MUSIC CONSERVATORY Brussels offers an intercultural and historical fertile ground with a highly mobile and international population. It is in this rich environment of 62 % foreign-born residents that the vibrant musical heart of the School of Arts, the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel, beats. Its student and teacher population matches the intercultural metropolitan mix with 60% international musicians. Within the cultural and musical history of this capital over the last 200 years, and maintaining Flemish presence over the last 50 years, the Flemish Brussels Conservatory — Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel — unfolded a long, sometimes difficult but glorious trajectory. How to secure, by never-ending economic demands of production and efficiency, the continuation of such unique European music heritage in Brussels? How to incite political and cultural actors to sustain this ‘slow science’ at an autonomous Flemish conservatory, in collaboration with all Brussels’ partners? How to cope artistically with the challenges of a 21th century setting? A SPECIFIC CULTURAL AND ARCHITECTURAL SETTING 148 “Brussels is a European center where Germanic and Latin cultures draw boundaries and enable assimilation processes. It is the task of the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel to underpin this rich musical event, an invitation to respond to it. The challenge is to enable the professional requirements of this music education center, to tune them to the highest level and to use all the opportunities the artistic-cultural and economic circuit has to offer. In this perspective, the training at the Conservatorium is particularly stimulated while, at the same time, a special contribution is expected from it.” (Kamiel D’Hooghe, 1987)

CONSERVAMUS, an enthusiast organisation working with public funding, recently started the renovation of the windows, and an official political agreement has been signed for the entire restoration of the site. THE TRADITION AND EMANCIPATION OF A UNIQUE EUROPEAN MUSIC CULTURE From the first director on, François-Joseph Fétis, in 1833, the conservatory aimed at a high-quality institution for music education with an international reputation. The specific commitment of the musicians, the unique intercultural Brussels context and the later Flemish support for an excellent and autonomous higher music education, have contributed to develop this goal. The Flemish emancipation under director Kamiel D’Hooghe, resulted in a music institution of high quality, endorsing its international position in multilingual Brussels. A specific recruitment policy was and still is one of its pillars: the resolute choice for great international musicians with an established reputation, to whom the opportunity is given, next to their high quality teaching, to continue an artistic career as cultural ambassadors of the institution. For example, the Brussels Conservatoire, together with the Conservatoire of Paris, lies at the birth of the great Franco-Belgian violin school. This tradition, started by Eugène Ysaÿe, Henrik Wieniawski and Arthur Grumiaux, still resonates in Brussels, complemented by other rich traditions. A unique Ysaÿe manuscript, recently donated to the conservatory library, will be produced by our students and teachers in May 2018. Another example is the connection between the conservatory and the famous Queen Elisabeth competition of which many teachers still today are laureates. While other music teachers combine their exceptional pedagogical qualities with positions 149