1937: the start
The Vlaams Radiokoor was founded in 1937 by the Belgian National Radio Institute (NIR/INR). The history of the radio choir is inextricably linked with that of its sister ensemble at the same broadcaster: the Great Symphony Orchestra (now the Brussels Philharmonic).
The Flemish Musical Service, headed by director Paul Collaer, was from the outset a pioneer of modernism, making it possible to perform the lead-ing works of composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc and Sergei Prokofiev.
modernism & early music
The radio choir and orchestra, tasked with performing significant premieres and performances of contemporary music, received glowing reviews. A few examples from 1939: the world premiere of Stravinsky’s cantata Le Roi des étoiles (‘The King of the Stars’), thought to have been lost.
Collaer also involved the choir in the rediscovery and performance of early music – a very new discipline. A sampling from the programming of 1939: the oratorium Jephte by Carissimi, Il ballo del Ingrate by Claudio Monteverdi as well as 15th and 16th century a capella music by the Flemish polyphonists such as Orlando di Lasso and Jacob Obrecht.
1945: orchestra and choir as showpieces
After the war, the strengths remained a great deal of contemporary music, early music, the great repertoire and Flemish music. The choir took part in significant world premieres such as the Figure humaine by Francis Poulenc (1945) and The Euménides by Darius Milhaud (1949), the latter a work for which Milhaud had waited more than 25 years. Belgian works were also performed, such as the Agnus Dei by Robert Herberigs, Icare by Marcel Poot and Inferno by Norbert Rousseau.