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Félix Godefroid is a Belgian harpist and composer. He was born in Namur in 1818 and died in Villers-sur-Mer in 1897. During his childhood, he begins to study the piano and takes his first steps at the harp at the age of eleven. His father manages a theater in Namur and following the bankruptcy of his establishment, he decides to settle in Paris with his two sons, Felix and his elder brother Jules-Joseph (1811-1840).

In 1832, Felix, fourteen years old and his brother Jules play the simple movement harp with François-Joseph Naderman (1773-1835) at the Paris Conservatory. At the age of 17, preferring the double movement harp that François-Joseph Naderman —a simple movement harp manufacturer— does not want to teach, he joins the class of Théodore Labarre (1805-1870) and also studies the harp with Elias Paris-Alvars. His compositions are very appreciated in concert and from 1839, his tours take him throughout Europe and even to the Middle East.

Established in Paris, he invests himself in the evolution of the instrument and its technique. Mes exercices pour la harpe (1891) as well as its method played a vital role in the teaching of the harp. Very prolific composer, Godefroid writes a lot of works for harp but also two operas and even some piano sonatas. He was inspired by and transcribed melodies from Schubert, which were also used in 1844 for some of his fantasies for harp. It is Vincenzo Bellini who inspires him to compose Deux Mosaïques pour la harpe sur les principaux motifs de Norma. In 1851, he publishes Trois Études Caractéristiques pour harpe including, La Mélancolie, opus 23, Danse des Sylphes and Le Rêve.

In 1873, he performs in Kyiv with Maurice Gliere (1852-1937), father of the composer Reinhold Glière (1874-1956). In the same year, he is acclaimed during his performances on new sophisticated models by Erard at the Vienna World’s Fair.

From Belgium, he keeps a link through the famous painter from Namur Félicien Rops (1833-1898), who draws Félix Godefroid during the year 1856. For the inauguration of the statue of King Leopold 1st er(1790-1865) in Namur in October 1869, Godefroid composes a Cantatepresented in front of the royal family. Finally, in the same city, a street was renamed “Rue Godefroid” in tribute to some members of his family.

Article written by Victoria De Schrijver

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