Edgar Tinel was a leading figure in the establishment of the musical traditions of the Flemish-speaking people of Belgium. He was born on 25 March 1854 in Sinaai, close to Sint-Niklaas, between Gent and Antwerp. His father was master of the local school, which also served as the family home. It remained the town school until a new and larger one was built behind it; in 1992 the original building was renovated and now the ground floor is used for music lessons while the first floor houses the museum commemorating the composer. In 1863 Tinel, aged nine, left Sinaai to study in Brussels, where eventually he was to become director of the Royal Conservatory and maitre de chapelle to the king.
Tinel Museum Photo Gallery
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He and his family of six children were always frequent visitors to Sinaai. When he died, on 28 October 1912, he was buried there in the churchyard of Sint Catharina, where later he was honoured with an imposing memorial incorporating his bust and images of St Francis and St Catherine, evoking two of Tinel’s best-known works, his oratorio Franciscus (1888) and the dramatic legend Catharina (1909). The museum commemorating him was established in 1962, 50 years after his death.
Tinel’s youngest son, Paul, a music critic (who published a study of Franciscus in 1924), inherited his father’s musical estate. Although the collection was ultimately deposited in the Royal Library in Brussels, a second and substantial archive of autographs, letters, printed scores, programmes, newspaper cuttings, posters, photographs, portraits, medallions and personal effects (from his cigars to his cycle clips and collar studs) has been assembled over the years, and this informs the displays at the Sinaai schoolhouse. The museum owns Tinel’s writing desk, an ingenious battery-operated grandfather clock made by a brother and a woodenframed, upright piano (c1850) that belonged to the Tinel family. Along with scores of Franciscus and several important original portraits, a plaster death mask and marble bust (commissioned by the town), both by Arsenne Matton, are among the most treasured items in the collection.