The National Library has just received the commemorative frame of the special stamp marking the 100th birthday of Luxembourgish composer Jean-Pierre Kemmer. The handover took place on Wednesday 20 September 2023 in the library’s premises. POST Philately was represented by Claude Balthasar and Emile Espen. The BnL was represented by its director Claude D. Conter and Françoise Molitor, head of the music department and the Cedom (Centre d’études et de documentation musicales).
The BnL is honoured to have been able to collaborate in the production and distribution of a stamp celebrating Jean-Pierre Kemmer, whose archives are kept at the Cedom. Comprising over 700 individual works, including choral works, operettas, orchestral works and film scores, the Jean-Pierre Kemmer collection is one of the largest in the BnL’s music department.
A selection of documents in his honour is on display until 3 November 2023 in the cabinets in front of the Rare Books Reading Room.
Jean-Pierre Kemmer, born in Luxembourg in 1923, was a dedicated and versatile musician. A talented pianist, oboist, organist and composer, he decided very early on to embark on a musical career. At the age of just 13, he made his first professional experience as a piano accompanist for the radio show Lëtzebuerger Hallefstonn by Léon Moulin.
After the war, Kemmer became piano accompanist and répétiteur at Chœurs de Radio Luxembourg, which was led by Paul Sontag. Once this contract expired, Henri Pensis offered him a position as solo timpanist in the radio orchestra and taught him as an orchestra conductor. During the era of Louis de Froment, he often appeared on stage as the conductor of the RTL orchestra, and performed many of his symphonic works.
Aside from being an orchestra musician, Kemmer was also active as a choirmaster for many years and founded his own 12-member choir “Les Chœurs Jean-Pierre Kemmer” in 1969. During his lifetime, he contributed to at least 50 musical productions.
His musical language, based on the Romantic tradition, often drew inspiration from popular styles. Among others, this is the case in his work La Sainte Passion selon Saint Jean, which reflects a traditional symphonic style while incorporating elements of jazz, dance and folk music.