Mombaerts, Gui (Guillaume), 1902-1993
Gui (Guillaume) Mombaerts was born on October 6, 1902 in Molenbeek St-Jean, Belgium. He toured Europe as a pianist following his 1926 Prix Gunther win and 1927 finalist position in the International Chopin Piano Competition. Mombaert begin his career in the academy as piano instructor in 1923. He joined the faculty of Northwestern University's School of Music in 1948, and served as Ralph Votapek piano instructor in this position.
Mombaerts began his study of the piano at the age of eight and in 1912 entered the solfège, or sight singing class, of the School of Music-Schaerbeek. Mombaerts subsequently entered the Royal Conservatory, Brussels, where he was awarded first prizes in solfège, 1916; harmony, 1918; piano with high distinction, 1921; chamber music with distinction, 1922 and keyboard harmony, 1923. He graduated from the Royal Conservatory in 1925 with a Diplôme de Virtuosité. While at the Royal Conservatory, Mombaerts studied with Arthur de Greef, a pupil of Franz Liszt.
Mombaerts won the Prix Gunther, a competition among Belgium's top pianists, in 1926. In 1927 he was a finalist in the first International Chopin Piano Competition which took place in Warsaw, Poland. Gui Mombaerts subsequently toured Europe as a soloist and as a member of the prestigious Belgian Piano-String Quartet.
Mombaerts began teaching the piano while he was still a student. He was a member of the faculty of the School of Music, Watermael-Boitsfort from 1923 to 1927, and was a Professor of Piano and Harmony at the Conservatory of Music, La Louviére from 1925 to 1940. He also served as Professor of Piano at the école Normale de Musique in Brussels, 1925-1927; Instructor of Piano at the School of Music, Molenbeek, 1934-1940 and Professor of Piano at the Chapelle de la Reine Elisabeth de Belgique, 1938-1940.
Following the German occupation of Belgium, Mombaerts and the other members of the Belgian Piano-String Quartet managed to escape to the United States in 1940, while on a tour of Portugal. Mombaerts served with the Free Belgian armed forces from 1943 to 1945. After the war he toured the United States and Canada with the noted violist William Primrose and appeared as a soloist with a number of symphony orchestras.
Mombaerts began his American teaching career as a Visiting Professor of Music at Colorado College from 1941 to 1943. After the war he was an instructor at Kansas State Teachers College in Pittsburg, Kansas, 1945-1946 and then Professor of Piano and Chamber Music at the University of Kansas in Kansas City, 1946-1948. In 1948 he joined the Northwestern faculty as an associate professor in the School of Music's piano department. In 1956 he was promoted to full professor, a rank he held until his retirement in 1971. From 1957 until 1971 he was chairman of the piano department. Among his students at Northwestern was Ralph Votapek, who won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1962.
Gui Mombaerts died on June 10th, 1993, in Evanston.
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Gui (Guillaume) Mombaerts toured Europe as a pianist after winning the 1926 Prix Gunther and ranking as finalist in the 1927 International Chopin Piano Competition. He joined the faculty of Northwestern University's School of Music in 1948, and served as Ralph Votapek piano instructor. The Gui Mombaerts Papers, spanning the years 1922-1980, are contained in two boxes. They include biographical material, vitae, press releases, clippings, and interviews.