Joseph Jongen (1873-1953) was born in Liège, Belgium. He was admitted to the Liège Conservatoire at the young age of seven, spending 16 years there.
He was an extraordinary student and began composing at the age of 13. His monumental First String Quartet, composed in 1894, was awarded the top prize in the annual competition for fine arts held by the Royal Academy of Belgium.
With the outbreak of World War I, he and his family moved to England, where he founded a piano quartet but later returned, after the war, to Belgium where he became professor of fugue at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. From 1925 until 1939, he served as director of that institution.
Another monumental work, the Symphonie Concertante is truly a tour de force, considered by many to be among the greatest works ever written for organ and orchestra. The work was commissioned by Rodman Wanamaker for the re-dedication of the world's largest pipe organ, the Wanamaker Organ, housed with the the Wanamaker Dept. Store. Wanamaker's death in 1928 unfortunately precluded the performance of the work at that time in the venue for which it was written. It was finally performed for the very first time with the Wanamaker Organ and the Philadelphia Orchestra in September, 2008.