Sheet music

BELGIUM : Belgium National Anthem
Belgian National Anthem
National Anthem of Belgium
La Brabançonne

  • Author: French Words: Charles Latour Rogier (1800-1885), Dutch Words: Victor Ceulemans (1887-1969)
  • Composer: François van Campenhout (1779-1848)
  • Adopted: 1830 (French words) 1938 (Dutch words)
  • National Day: July 21 (1831) - Ascension to the Throne of King Leopold I
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  • Further details: One evening after the Belgian-Dutch difficulties of September, 1830, a group of young people went into the cafe de l'Aigle d'Or in Brussels' rue de la Fourche. They were given a room on the first floor in which to take their ease. Amid the noble speeches, the laughter and singing of these revolutionaries, one of them, the French comedian and poet HIPPOLYTE LOUIS-ALEXANDRE DECHET (1801-1830) - more generally known by his pseudonym JENNEVAL (who had come from Paris to fight with the Belgian patriots), began to recite a poem he had written which expressed the aspirations of the revolutionaries at the time.

    It is thus explained how the National Anthem came about in 1830. The anecdote may or may not be true, but what is certain is that the first Brabançonne was written by Jenneval in late 1830. Jenneval was also an actor at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, where the revolution broke out on August 25 1830, which led to the independence of Belgium. He composed three versions of the Belgian National Anthem which he gradually adapted to reflect the events as they happened. The first version was sung on September 12 1830 at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, that is, at a time when Belgium was still part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands under the rule of the House of Orange-Nassau. It pledged loyalty to the King provided it be allowed to ripen as a fruit on the tree of liberty. The second version, written during the street fighting in which Belgium won its independence, kept the theme of the tree of liberty but now no Orange-Nassau could be tolerated on it. Such was the mood in the heat of the moment. Later on things cooled off and people were eager again to establish good-neighbourly relations. Jenneval fought in the rebel army and was killed in combat near Lièrre, on October 18 1830.

    In 1860, this song was further changed, this time by the Prime Minister, CHARLES ROGIER (1800-1885) who wrote a completely new text which omitted all allusions to Holland and its royal house but dealt instead exclusively with the glory of Belgium. The fourth verse of this version, is still used today.

    FRANÇOIS VAN CAMPENHOUT, a violinist also from the Théâtre de la Monnaie, composed the melody and called it 'La Brabançonne', derived from 'Brabant'.

    There are also several versions of 'La Brabançonne' in Dutch. Apart from a translation of the words by Rogier, there is also an original version which is not a translation, with words by Victor Ceulemans written to Van Campenhout's music. The version generally accepted today is a translation by an unknown author (possibly Ceulemans) of the words by Charles Rogier with the music by Van Campenhout.