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Born in Hainaut in 1896, Belgium composer Jean Absil studied organ and harmony at Brussels Conservatoire where he won First Prize. A few years later, however, he abandoned the idea of a career as an organist and concentrated on composition. Absil won many awards during his early career, such as the Agniez Prize (for his First Symphony), the Belgium Prix de Rome (for La Guerre) and the Prix Rubens, which enabled him to visit Paris in 1934. During his stay in France Absil developed an avid interest in Milhaud's work. He met a number of prominent composers there including Honegger, Ibert and Milhaud and produced the bulk of his vocal compositions. It was the First Piano Concerto, written for the Ysaye Competition, which launched Absil on the international platform. Other works which helped to establish his fine reputation include 'La Mort de Tintagiles Op.3 and Flemish Rhapsody Op.4 Absil held many teaching positions during his lifetime, firstly as Director of the Etterbeek Music School. He subsequently taught harmony at Brussels Conservatoire from 1930, becoming a professor in 1936 and later Professor of Fugue at the Brussels Conservatoire and Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth. In 1955 Absil was elected to the Belgium Royal Academy and in 1964 he received the Prix Quinquennial of the Belgium government.
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