Gustaaf Francies de Pauw (1867-1943)

bellida02DePauwGustaaf Francies de Pauw (1867-1943) was born in Oostburg, Zeeuws Vlaanderen, Netherlands. His father made watches and had a jewelry shop. Due to his musicality he conducted various musical ensembles, in addition to which he also composed and it was from him that young Gustaaf received his first musical lessons. The gifted pupil eventually enrolled the Ghent Conservatory, where he studied trombone playing and conducting.

At the age of 18 De Pauw was drafted for compulsory military service, and he was stationed in the city of Maastricht. There he became trombone player in the 2nd infantry regiment. In between his military obligations, such as the Sunday’s concert in het Vrijthof there, he continued his musical studies in Aken and Antwerp. Post his military service time, he remained in Maastricht where he settled as teacher of music, conductor and composer. In 1896 he married the mezzo-soprano Charlotte Berlée, who would become the creator of Giusta in his romantic opera Bellida, premiered in Maastricht a year after their marriage, in 1897.

His friend J.M. Heijnens from Meerssen wrote both the Dutch and the French language libretto. De Pauw scored a tremendous success with Bellida, which post Maastricht was also performed, among others, in Amsterdam.

Gustaaf Francies de Pauw became a household name in Maastricht and surroundings a choir conductor, conductor of various harmony and fanfare orchestra, as well as a composer and music publisher. He wrote more than 1200 compositions: operettas, miracle plays, songs, cantatas, much music also for hafa-orchestras, and finally, in his later years, also much religious music (often on texts by J.M. Heijnens). Bellida remained his only opera.

De Pauw was an authority, a principal person, admired as a conductor, respected as a composer and feared as a juror in various competitions. He was diligent and modest, yet he left a significant impact on the musical life in Maastricht during his years there, which came to an end only with his death in 1943, at the age of 76.