Journal for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism, Vol 3, No 2 (2012)

‘Aux Mânes d’un F[rère] qui fut Roi’: a Cantata by K.L. Hanssens On the Death of King Leopold I of the Belgians

David Vergauwen
Issued Date: 25 Mar 2014

Abstract


When King Leopold I of the Belgians died on 10 December 1865, freemasons in Brussels were quick to organize an elaborate lodge of sorrow for their mason king (le Roi maçon). This lodge of sorrow included a masonic cantata, written for orchestra, choir and soloists by Karel Lodewijk Hanssens (1825–71), one of the city’s leading composers. This cantata, long thought to have been lost, was recently recovered from a collection of manuscripts of the Royal Music Conservatory in Brussels. This essay aims to explain why the freemasons thought such a cantata was in order and why Hanssens was willing to accept the commission. It also seeks to elaborate on the relationship between the masonic ritual and its music and will conclude by explaining the failure of this ritual, which resulted in the cantata being shelved and forgotten.

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DOI: 10.1558/jrff.v3i2.265

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