August Liessens

August(e) Liessens. Organist, composer, bandmaster, choir conductor, teacher, inventor, b Ninove, near Brussels, 17 Aug 1894, naturalized Canadian 1953, d Sorel, Que, 8 Jul 1954. Liessens was blind from infancy. In 1901 he entered the Institut royal pour les aveugles at Woluwe-St-Lambert, Belgium.

Liessens, August(e)

August(e) Liessens. Organist, composer, bandmaster, choir conductor, teacher, inventor, b Ninove, near Brussels, 17 Aug 1894, naturalized Canadian 1953, d Sorel, Que, 8 Jul 1954. Liessens was blind from infancy. In 1901 he entered the Institut royal pour les aveugles at Woluwe-St-Lambert, Belgium. He was clarinet soloist in the institute's band at 12 and received a diploma from the Brussels Cons before he was 20.

At the request of the Frères de la Charité, Liessens went in 1913 to Sorel to teach music at the Collège du Mont-St-Bernard. He played a major role in the musical life of his adopted city and was organist at Notre-Dame Church in 1916 and at St-Pierre Church from 1929 until his death. He was director 1917-42 of the Zouaves Band (later the Sorel Concert Band) and founded, and directed 1924-49, the Société chorale Liessens, for which he wrote many works, including Les Sept Paroles du Christ, À Ste-Cécile, Hérodiade, and Marche au drapeau, for band or mixed choir. His religious works include a Messe Lauda Sion, an Ave Maria, and about 40 canticles. These were featured at a concert commemorating the 30th anniversary of his death at the St-Pierre Church of Sorel (April 1984) by the Choeur en liesse, founded in 1982 and directed by Frans Liessens, Auguste's son. The percussionist Frédérick Liessens is the son of Frans.

Auguste Liessens also invented the Liessens Music Writer/Musicographe Liessens, a machine allowing the blind to write music for the sighted. The American Foundation for the Blind, New York, has distributed the machine in several countries. Liessens was made an honorary citizen of his birthplace in 1953 and a street in Sorel was named after him in 1975.