1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hiel, Emmanuel

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HIEL, EMMANUEL (1834–1899), Belgian-Dutch poet and prose writer, was born at Dendermonde, in Flanders, in May 1834. He acted in various functions, from teacher and government official to journalist and bookseller, busily writing all the time both for the theatre and the magazines of North and South Netherlands. His last posts were those of librarian at the Industrial Museum and professor of declamation at the Conservatoire in Brussels. Among his better-known poetic works may be cited Looverkens (“Leaflets,” 1857); Nieuwe Liedekens (“New Poesies,” 1861); Gedichten (“Poems,” 1863); Psalmen, Zangen, en Oratorios (“Psalms, Songs, and Oratorios,” 1869); De Wind (1869), an inspiriting cantata, which had a large measure of success and was crowned; De Liefde in ’t Leven (“Love in Life,” 1870); Elle and Isa (two musical dramas, 1874); Liederen voor Groote en Kleine Kinderen (“Songs for Big and Small Folk,” 1879); Jakoba van Beieren (“Jacqueline of Bavaria,” a poetic drama, 1880); Mathilda van Denemarken (a lyrical drama, 1890). His collected poetical works were published in three volumes at Rousselaere in 1885. Hiel took an active and prominent part in the so-called “Flemish movement” in Belgium, and his name is constantly associated with those of Jan van Beers, the Willems and Peter Benoit. The last wrote some of his compositions to Hiel’s verses, notably to his oratorios Lucifer (performed in London at the Royal Albert Hall and elsewhere) and De Schelde (“The Scheldt”); whilst the Dutch composer, Richard Hol (of Utrecht), composed the music to Hiel’s “Ode to Liberty,” and van Gheluwe to the poet’s “Songs for Big and Small Folk” (second edition, much enlarged, 1879), which has greatly contributed to their popularity in schools and among Belgian choral societies. Hiel also translated several foreign lyrics. His rendering of Tennyson’s Dora appeared at Antwerp in 1871. For the national festival of 1880 at Brussels, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Belgian independence, Hiel composed two cantatas, Belgenland (“The Land of the Belgians”) and Eer Belgenland (“Honour to Belgium”), which, set to music, were much appreciated. He died at Schaerbeek, near Brussels, on the 27th of August 1899. Hiel’s efforts to counteract Walloon influences and bring about a rapprochement between the Netherlanders in the north and the Teutonic racial sympathizers across the Rhine made him very popular with both, and a volume of his best poems was in 1874 the first in a collection of Dutch authors published at Leipzig.