Lemmens, Nicholas Jacques


Celebrated organist; born at ZoerleParwys, Belgium, where his father held the positions of provost and organist. He began his musical studies at eleven years of age under Van der Broeck, organist at Dieste. When sixteen years old he entered the Brussels Conservatory but was obliged to leave soon after on account of his father's illness; he returned again in 1841. During this absence he succeeded his former master as organist at Dieste. He studied under Fetis, at the Conservatory, and in 1844 took the second prize for composition and the next year the first,  also the first for organ-playing. A government pension then enabled him to go to Breslau where he studied under Adolf Hesse for a year. In 1849 he became a professor of organ at the Brussels Conservatory and he instilled into it new life and spirit, gaining a reputation throughout the country. After his marriage, in 1857, he spent much time in England, his wife being a leading English soprano. However, in 1879, he opened a college for training Catholic organists and choirmasters, at Malines, which became popular. It was substantially aided by the Belgian clergy. M. Lemmens was an accomplished pianist but his forte was organ-playing. His great work is his ficole d'orgue, which has been adopted by the conservatories at Paris, Brussels, Madrid and elsewhere. He composed sonatas, offertories, etc., for the organ. He spent twenty years on a method for accompanying Gregorian chants but it was not published until after his death. He died in Brussels. Madame Lemmens, nee Sherrington, was born at Preston, 1834. Her mother was a musician. In 1852 she entered the Brussels Conservatory and took first prizes in singing and declamation. For many years she sang in public, both secular and sacred music.