Royal Conservatory of Brussels

Starting its activities in 1813, the Royal Conservatory of Brussels (French: Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles, Dutch: Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel) received its official name in 1832. Providing performing music and drama courses, the institution became renowned partly because of the international reputation of its successive directors such as François-Joseph Fétis, François-Auguste Gevaert, Edgar Tinel, Joseph Jongen or Marcel Poot, but more because it has been attended by many of the top musicians, actors and artists in Belgium such as Arthur Grumiaux, José Van Dam, Sigiswald Kuijken, Josse De Pauw, Luk van Mello and Luk De Konink. Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone, also studied at the Brussels Conservatory.

Royal Conservatory of Brussels
Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel
Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles
Royal Conservatory of Brussels
DirectorPeter Swinnen (Flemish entity)
Frédéric de Roos (French entity)
Location, (Flemish entity) (French entity)

In 1967, the institution split into two separate entities: the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel, which teaches in Dutch and English, and the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles, which continued teaching in French. The former entity became a School of Arts of Erasmus University College alongside film school RITCS, and associated with Vrije Universiteit Brussel it also offers Ph.D. degrees in the Arts through Art Platform Brussels. Since 2009, the latter entity has been associated with the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels La Cambre and the Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle (INSAS), forming ARTes, an organisation that embraces the three aforementioned art schools of the French Community of Belgium in Brussels.


The current Royal Conservatory building consists of three wings arranged around a courtyard and is the work of architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer, built to his designs between 1872 and 1876.

The style is neo-Renaissance, influenced by the Lescot Wing of the Louvre. The decorative program of the facade is very elaborate, with five separate pediment sculptures (Instrumental Music by Liège sculptor Adolphe Fassin, Orchestration by Charles van der Stappen, Composition by Antwerp sculptor Frans Deckers, Performing Arts by Antoine-Félix Bouré, and Poetry by Tournai sculptor Barthélemy Frison) and other incidental work including garlands, caryatids, palm trees and musical instruments by sculptors Georges Houtstont, Paul de Vigne, Antoine-Joseph Van Rasbourgh, Auguste Braekevelt, and Égide Mélot.

Auxiliary activities


Each year a variety of regular student concerts and performances is organised by the Conservatory, boasting over hundred events and enhanced by two festivals.

The right wing of the Conservatory contains a 600 seats ornate concert hall in Napoleon-III style with exceptional acoustic qualities, equipped with a Cavaillé-Coll organ.

Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)

Founded in 1877 to provide students with a practical education about ancien instruments, the Conservatory museum, currently referred to as the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) of Brussels displays over 8.000 ancient instruments acquired by Fétis, rare pieces from the initial collection, from the various funds or from new acquisitions. Since 2000, the museum, one of the most important ones of its kind, is located in the prestigious Art Nouveau building conceived in 1899 by the Belgian architect Paul Saintenoy for Old England.


Initially created with a pedagogic aim, the Conservatory library hosts about 250.000 references, representing a scientific instrument of international resonance.

It primarily consists of works about music (including more than 1200 musical or musicological periodicals), as well as of autograph, printed or digitized (scanned) scores. There is also an important collection of more than 8.000 libretti of Italian, French or German operas from the XVIIe and XVIIIe s., lute and guitar tablatures, several thousands of handwritten letters of musicians, iconographic documents (over 9.000 pieces), concert programmes and various types of recordings (magnetic tapes, video, 78 and 33 rpm vinyl, CD, etc.).

Next to the core collections, the library possesses several subcollections of historical importance, together forming an extensive patrimony:

The library is open to the general public. In 2015, the library acquired the score collection of CeBeDeM (Belgian Centre for Music Documentation). In doing so it also took over the latter's objectives in promoting Belgian contemporary music worldwide.

Personalities linked to the Royal Conservatory of Brussels


Directors of the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles

Directors of the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel

  • 1966-1994: Kamiel D'Hooghe (in Dutch)
  • 1994-2004: Arie Van Lysebeth (in Dutch)
  • 2004-2008: Rafael D'Haene
  • 2008–2017: Peter Swinnen
  • 2017-present: Kathleen Coessens

Notable faculty

Notable alumni


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