An Imperial Clarinet Player 

Born in Antwerp and trained in Antwerp and Brussels, Amand Vanderhagen would have a crucial role to play in the re-organization of the musical scene in Paris during the revolutionary period and the Empire.

This Flemish composer stood at the cradle of the first modern conservatory and must be considered one of the best clarinet players of his generation.

His compositions are of exceptional quality and show the flowering of a late classical style that would endear him to French audiences throughout the Napoleonic Era.

Amand Vaderhagen Ouverture de l'Amant Statue

Charles of Lorraine

Amand Jean François Joseph Vanderhagen (1753-1822) was a member of a musical family. His father was the cathedral organist and his uncle played the oboe in the court orchestra of prince Charles of Lorraine. Vanderhagen was trained as a choir boy in Antwerp and as teenager was sent to his uncle in Brussels to be trained as a musician. He showed great promise and was taught composition by Pieter Van Maldere, the chief composer at the court of the prince.

From l'Amant Statue: L’amour qui l’enflamme

Early 1780s in Paris

In the early 1780s, Vanderhagen made it to Paris where he became a member of the French Royal Guard, both as a composer and as a clarinet player. That he considered himself an expert on this instrument is shown by his 1785 publication of the Méthode nouvelle et raisonnée pour la clarinette. In 1788 he became the ensemble’s chief director and main composer, but he lost this position during the revolution. In 1790 he worked as second chief of the Musique de la Garde Nationale, under Bernard Sarette. Sarette was one of the key musicians involved in the creation of the Conservatoire de musique of which he became the first director. It seems that Serette appointed his friend Vanderhagen as a teacher there. It was around this time that Vanderhagen published a lot of pedagogical works, such as Nouvelle méthode pour la clarinette momderne à douze clefs avec leur application, his Méthode nouvelle et raisonnée pour le Hautbois (both 1798) and his Méthode claire et facile pour apprendre à jouer en très-peu de temps de la Flûte.

Vanderhagen - Flute concerto in D - Jan Van den Borre- Vlad Weverbergh - Terra Nova Collective

The Napoleonic Era

During the Napoleonic Era, Vanderhagen served in the national military chapels of France. He was a renowned and respected musician and was awarded membership of the prestigious Légion d’Honneur. His career declined somewhat after the fall of the Empire. He became first clarinet player at the Théâtre français, but seems to have suffered from lung ailness. In 1818 he was offered to play the second clarinet, which he did until his death in Paris in 1822.

From l'Amant Statue: Rosette Rosette