René Demaret was a pianist, composer and conductor. In the 1920s he was probably the most popular composer in Belgium in the music hall and in jazz. A striking figure, and now undeservedly forgotten. Information about his private life, his education or his career is very scarce. The name of Demaret may be familiar to sheet music collectors. Numerous original editions of his music with beautiful front pages are still circulating, including by René Magritte, Dominique Van Caulaert, Valery, Henval, Peter De Greef,…
French version Demaret was born in France, but spent his professional career in Belgium. In 1925, as conductor of the Miami Jazz Band, he made the first important series of Belgian jazz band recordings in London, Ghent and Paris (each time under a different band name). It is noteworthy that three different companies took the risk of recording the same orchestra at a time when recording music was cumbersome and expensive. It proves it was worth it. Demaret himself composes in these styles, inspired by Broadway music and American jazz.
He performs in Belgium and Paris with the Miami Jazz Band. In the 1920s much of his music is published, in many local publishers, but also by bigger players such as Schott Frères Editions in Belgium, Salabert in France, and several in the USA. Most releases of music from that period also include a part for the piano conductor. This is also what Demaret was: in many performances of his music he conducted and played the piano part at the same time. His music is performed in Europe and in the USA and Canada. It is recorded on piano rolls, and put on vinyl by various performers and bands, even in New York, and distributed as far as Mexico and South America.
In the 1930s he focused more on writing and arranging film music. In doing so, he joins those many anonymous artists who worked for cinema, and of whom no trace can be found.
Heimweh was published in Brussels, London and Leipzig and therefore has a trilingual title: Heimweh / Homesick / Chanson Nostalgique. This composition was originally composed for solo violin and orchestra. Published in the period when Demaret was mainly involved with film music (1938), it is perhaps possible that this music once supported film images. The first theme is melancholic, and has pronounced musical harmonic twists from American music, which, however, are used much more widely here as a harmonic framework for this romantic melody. The second theme is a sultry and firm gypsy theme, and is reminiscent of Amour de tzigane, Demaret’s other composition on this CD.