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Julien Ficher

Julien Ficher was born on 7 August 1888 in Brussels (Belgium). After school he decided to become a teacher and successfully finished his training at a college in Brussels. He completed his teaching studies with a specific qualification in physical education and also attended drawing lessons at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and at a school of arts in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean.


After his studies Julien Ficher first worked as a teacher for physical education. An early project of him was the publication of a book with music compositions that could be performed during the physical education in school. The book "Rondes et danses populaires" was published together with Henri De Genst in 1914 and Julien Ficher provided also the drawings for the book.

In the same year Julien Ficher got in touch with Georges Rouma, a Belgian pedagogue who supported the educational reform in Bolivia since 1909. Rouma convinced Julien Ficher to follow him to Bolivia and so Ficher moved to Sucre in 1914. There he worked as a teacher for art and physical education at one of the new founded schools. In 1916 he published a book on efficient physical education titled "La educacion fisica racional". In 1919 Julien Ficher moved to Havanna in Cuba where he again worked as a teacher for physical education.


In 1920 Julien Ficher moved back to Belgium and settled in Dilbeek. Now he worked as an art teacher, first at an art school in Tienen, later he became director of the school for drawing in Brabant and finally Julien Ficher lectured at the Royal Academy of Arts in Brussels. Beside his teaching activities Julien Ficher also began to do paintings and drawings as an artist since his return from abroad. He was awarded the Prix de l'Oeuvre Nationale des Beaux-Arts for his artistic achievements in 1974.

Julien Ficher died on 2 November 1989 in Dilbeek (Belgium).

In my possession are several autograph manuscripts of music compositions by Julien Ficher.

Curiously there are no references about compositions in the different biographies of Julien Ficher. There is even no note about a musical education. But nevertheless I own 5 musical manuscripts of which three are signed by Ficher. For the two others I expect them to be by Ficher due to the same handwriting.

I bought the manuscripts as part of a larger pile of documents which also included autograph scores by Miguel Angel Valda, a Bolivian composer as well as other manuscripts of cuecas, bailes, etc which all are traditional Bolivian dances. In addition one of the compositions by Julien Ficher is dated 1916, when he was in Bolivia. And so these different information assemble a larger picture which is my personal interpretation of how things went:


Julien Ficher surely had some kind of musical experience because playing an instrument was quite common in the middle classes at the late 19th century. Musical studies were also part of the teacher courses. Julien Ficher's early interest in musical topics can be recognised through his publication of "Rondes et danses populaires" in 1914.

When Julien Ficher moved to Sucre in Bolivia in 1914 he somehow met composer Miguel Angel Valda. They made each other's acquaintances, Ficher received an autograph manuscript by Valda and obviously was inspired to compose music himself.

When Ficher returned to Europe he did not continue composing or promoting his musical output and so nobody knows about these works today.

Julien Ficher's musical compositions


In my possession are manuscripts of the following works:


1) Bolivar, for mixed choir and orchestra (1916)

2) Noel, for 2 women's voices, choir and strings

3) Chant de route, for voice and piano

4) L'homme errant de la nuit, for voice and organ

5) Source de chaleur et de vie, for voice and organ



Especially the work "Bolivar" is interesting because it sets a glorifying poem about Simon Bolivar by Maria Josefa Mujia into music. The hero worship of Simon Bolivar in Bolivia and other South American countries was immense in the late 19th and early 20th century. So there are for sure many songs about Simon Bolivar by South American composers. But Julien Ficher was Belgian and in 1916 only for two years in Bolivia. Therefore I find it quite astounding that one of his very few compositions is a large orchestral work glorifying Simon Bolivar! To give other musicians and researchers the possibility to study this composition, I have typeset the piano reduction which can be dowloaded below for free:

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© Tobias Broeker