From the memories of …

Roland Coryn
Former board member of the Muizelhuis Concerts.

"It is clear that it was the great achievement of Herman Steenhoudt who kept this beautiful initiative going for 25 years."

Roland Coryn was one of the founding members of the non-profit organisation. In his younger years he was a regular customer of the local “National discotheque” in Harelbeke. There he met Herman Steenhoudt. From their meetings the idea arose to make recordings of every house concert in the Muizelhuis. The idea was launched to set up a non-profit organisation to be able to run the whole initiative. Roland Coryn was on the board from the very beginning, in 1984, until the early 1990s.

Roland: “My role, as a musical advisor, was to draw a musical line and, through my knowledge of the field, to suggest possible interesting concerts and soloists and to convince them to perform in the domestic setting of the Steenhoudt family."

Roland: "Our main objectives were: to offer opportunities to young virtuosos, to perform works by young composers, to let people enjoy music from close by."

Jenny Spanoghe

Jenny: “You were wonderfully received in the Muizelhuis, you got everything you wanted. Performing in the Muizelhuis was a party, really great.”

At the end of the 80s, Jenny Spanoghe got to know the Muizelhuis through Elias Gistelinck, a composer and radio producer. He lived in Harelbeke and also knew Herman Steenhoudt well.

Jenny performed mainly with the Gaggini quartet and also several times solo with piano accompaniment by Daniel Blumenthal. She also has very good memories of the Muizelhuis, as she performed there over a period of about ten years.

Jenny: “At our first Muizelhuis concert, the Gaggini Quartet played three string quartets by contemporary Flemish composers Vic Legley, Piet Swerts and Wilfried Westerlinck. They all were also present at the Muizelhuis.”

Jenny: “I think it is a pity that so little attention is paid to the Muizelhuis. Herman Steenhoudt founded it with his own budget and defended exclusively Flemish music. Both performers and composers.”

Eric Desimpelaere

Eric: “We, mijn broer en ik, werden uitgenodigd op de koffie bij de familie Steenhoudt. We bespraken wat ons mogelijke programma kon zijn aangezien piano en contrabas geen evidente bezetting zijn. Ik had wel de indruk dat ze juist op zoek waren naar onontgonnen zaken.”

Erik Desimpelaere forms with his brother David a duo for piano and double bass. Both were still very young, 16 and 17. They were still studying at the Harelbeke Music Academy and trough their music teachers, they were contacted by Herman Steenhoudt. Following the objectives of the non-profit organisation, Muizelhuis was constantly looking for new, young talent. The Muizelhuis performance was also the duo's first full evening concert.

Eric: “The Muizelhuis was located in the fields, completely remote from the centre of Hulste. It owed its fame to the carefully built up support community over the years.”

Eric: “The setting of the Muizelhuis was very special; the audience was, as it were, watching the performers. The fact that each concert was recorded live was also unique. The owners were also very receptive towards the artists. It really was their life's work.”

Bernard Baert
Participant at the composition competition in 1994

Bernard: “The concept of the Muizelhuis was brilliant: stimulating chamber music in a place where it actually belongs, at top level."

In 1994, the Muizelhuis held its fifth composition competition. The instrumentation that year was a woodwind quintet. Bernard Baert received the second prize for his Woodwind Quintet. He received the SABAM Prize of 30,000 Belgian franc, and naturally, he was also awarded the Muizelhuis medal.

Bernard: “The audience of the house concerts were really melomaniacs.”

Bernard Baert has only positive memories of the Muizelhuis. He describes the atmosphere as "very special". 

Bernard: “The level of the performances was always excellent, not at all mediocre. After each concert, there was the opportunity to talk with the artists, and the lady of the house always offered her home-baked cake. Yes, there really was a friendly, pleasant atmosphere.  I think it was a little paradise for the people who played there.”