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Carillon

 

A giant among musical instruments …

The tower of the Central University Library houses one of the most beautiful carillons in the world. It was erected together with the library building in 1928 and was donated by American engineers as a war memorial. Thanks to the efforts of American carillonneur Margo Halsted, the instrument was renovated and enlarged to 63 bells in 1983. The total bell weight is 35 tons.

The instrument bears a message of peace. The 7-ton Bourdon, which also strikes the hours, is named Liberty Bell of Louvain, and bell n° 4 bears the following inscription (translated from Latin):


My sounds reveal the changes of life
I sing about fortune in good and bad days
Let there be peace and understanding on earth
This is my wish to you all from this tower

Weekly carillon concerts

During the academic year until mid-May, the carillon is played twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 7.45 pm.
 

 

UNIQUE

Interested in accompanying the carillonneur up the tower with your student association, friends or family (max. 25)? This is possible for the small fee of €5.  You can book for a tower visit through this form, and meet the carillonneur at the reception desk of the library 30 minutes before the indicated start of the concert. You can book for a tower visit through this form.

 

Listen and win

Each week the carillonneur plays well-known compositions. If you recognize one of these pieces, send us an e-mail identifying the piece to beiaard@kuleuven.be. Each month one lucky winner will receive a nice gift.

 

 

The carillon of the Groot Begijnhof

In addition to the heavy carillon of the library, KU Leuven has a second carillon. It is a light instrument of 45 bells, located in the St. John Baptist Church in the Groot Begijnhof. The instrument is an extension of 16 bells that were part of the carillon of the library until its renovation in 1983. During the academic year, university carillonneur Luc Rombouts plays the carillon every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month from 7 to 8 pm.  In August, guest carillonneurs play concerts on Saturdays from 4 to 5 pm. The silvery sounds of this beautiful instrument adds to the attractiveness of the Groot Begijnhof and strengthen the community feeling of its inhabitants. 

In addition to the concerts, the automatic playing system plays every 30 minutes a short melody to accompany the progress of time. This is done on the 16 original bells that once rung in the library carillon. The full-hour melodies are longer than the half-hour melodies. Throughout the year, the sixteenth-century beguine psalm “Heer Jezus heeft een hofken” (Eng. tr. “King Jesus Hath a Garden”) is played every full hour, and the first notes of the old Flemish ballad “Heer Halewijn” (Sir Halewijn) are played every half hour. On a number of special days, these melodies are replaced with songs chosen for the occasion. In this way the program of music reflects the rhythm of the year. In general, the occasional songs are also played on the day preceding the holiday, in accordance with the old custom that bells ring in the holiday already the evening before.

Click here to see an overview of the music on the automatic carillon throughout the year.