Belgium Culture

Belgium Culture 2


According to topb2bwebsites, Belgium has a marked linguistic pluralism. A horizontal line, which passes south of Brussels, divides the northern part, ethnically and linguistically Germanic, from the southern Romance one. The set of Germanic-type dialects spoken in the northern part is commonly referred to as Flemish. The term is linguistically improper, because from the original designation of the dialectal variety of Flanders it has been extended to also indicate other dialects, such as Brabant and Limburgese.Western, spoken within the political borders of Belgium, which belong to the area of ​​Low-German, of which they constitute the Western variety, and have their matrix in the Low-Franc. These dialects have a lot of affinity with Dutch, the language spoken in the neighboring Netherlands, and in fact, in this area of ​​Belgium, the official and literary language is Dutch or Dutch. The southern part of Belgium, linguistically Romance, is of equal complexity. The Walloon term, commonly used to designate the whole neo-Latin area of ​​Belgium, is itself linguistically imprecise, because it is properly suited only to a large region of the entire Belgian novel territory, which also includes the Picardy dialectal variety W of Charleroi , Lorraine in the Virton area and fringes of Champagne dialects in some localities of Basse-Semois. On all these dialectal varieties, French has easily established itself as the official and common language, as well as Dutch in the Flemish area. Finally, along the eastern border of the country, there is a tiny German-speaking area, which mainly includes the annexed regions after the First World War. From the formation of the Kingdom of the Belgians (1830), French assumed the role of official language of the entire country, not without provoking violent reactions from the Flemish part of the nation which organized itself effectively to have its rights recognized in the linguistic field, eventually obtaining remarkable success. If, in fact, in the Constitution of 1831 the Flemish was admitted only in the elementary schools of the Flemish regions, Ghent it was transformed into a Flemish university. In 1898 Flemish had also become the language of justice: the laws were since then promulgated in both French and Flemish. Other laws conferred full right of citizenship on the Flemish also in the administrative seat. More specifically on the territorial level, within the political borders, the linguistic situation is as follows: a Flemish region whose official language is Dutch, including the provinces of West Flanders, East Flanders, Antwerp, Limburg and Brabant, with approx. 50% of the population; a Walloon region whose official language is French, comprising the provinces of Hainaut, Namur, Luxembourg, Liège and the district of Nivelles in Brabant, with approx. 30% of the population; a German-speaking region, comprising the cantons of Eupen, Sankt-Vith and some municipalities in the canton of Malmédy, with less than 1% of the population; a mixed bilingual region, made up of the capital Brussels and neighboring municipalities with approx. 19% of the population (note that Brussels, although linguistically in Flemish territory, is a city with a predominantly French language and culture). In such a varied and complex linguistic situation it is natural that a large part of the population is practically bilingual or sometimes even trilingual.


The persistence of some original characteristics makes it possible to speak of two Belgian literatures: one in French and the other in Dutch (in the language more commonly called, less exactly, Flemish). From the historical events we can see the formation, the progress, the decline, the resurrection of two literatures on the same homeland and with evidently common characters. Two cultures therefore coexist starting from the capital Brussels, perfectly bilingual in all its official manifestations. Many Flemings have chosen to write in French. Then some, like Philippe Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde (1540-1598), they wrote in both languages ​​with great perfection. The changes, which are found in the two literatures also in relation to historical facts (starting, for the modern age, with the independence of the Belgians in 1830), indicate affinities that cannot be underestimated, even if, from the first to the second war worldwide, the disagreements between the two linguistic communities have not yet subsided.


The golden age of music in Belgium coincided with the flowering of the so-called Flemish school (c. 1400-1550), which affected a vast historical unit including Holland and some parts of northern France (the Netherlands). When this unity was broken, following the conquest of independence from Spain (1579) by the Republic of the United Provinces (present-day Holland), in the southern Netherlands, which remained under Spanish rule, musical life suffered from the more general political and economic decline. However, it remained intense, both in the field of sacred vocal music, where the repertoire and style of the great Flemish school still predominated until the mid-century. XVII (while the Italian and French influences were becoming more and more sensitive), both in the field of instrumental music, which received new impetus from the immigration of English composers (in particular J. Bull and P. Philips), forced by persecutions against Catholics to leave their country. Among the most significant authors of organ or harpsichord music were P. Cornet, C. Guillet, A. Van den Kerckhoven. Even in the century. XVIII an important harpsichord school flourished, very influenced by the French one, with JB Loeillet, JH Fiocco and CJ Van Helmont, authors of other significant instrumental music as well. The melodramas of AM Grétry were also linked to the French musical tradition. The link with France remained one of the fundamental aspects of Belgian music even after the recognition of the country’s independence (1830), at least as regards the Walloon composers. Thanks to H. Vieuxtemps a violin school was formed in Liège, later continued by E. Ysaÿe, and in the same city C. Franckwas born, whose influence on French music of the end of the century. XIX was of considerable importance. Among his pupils was G. Lekeu, who died prematurely. During the century. In the nineteenth century a Flemish national school also arose, by P. Benoit, who intended to assume a popular tone with the cantatas of great bulk, characterized by a robust melodic vein and a vigorous realism. This school, which opposed the taste of the Walloons, mainly aimed at instrumental music, a predilection for the great choral fresco of cantatas, often with a historical subject, was continued by J. Blockx, E. Tinel and others, almost until the years of the Second World War. Only the younger Flemish generation has regained contact with the European avant-gardes. Among the Belgian composers of the century. XIX should be remembered above all J. Absil (1893-1974) and H. Pousseur (b. 1929), who was among the protagonists of the Neue Musik in the years of Darmstadt (avant-garde). In the field of musical historiography, some distinguished scholars should be mentioned: F.-J. Fétis, FA Gevaert and C.-E.-H. de Coussemaker in the century. XIX; C.-J.-E. van den Borren and Suzanne Clercx in the 9th century XX.

Belgium Culture 2