Tilborghs, Jozef

Kalmthout, 28/09/1830 > Nieuwmoer, 27/02/1910


Tilborghs, Jozef

by Annelies Focquaert

Joseph Tilborghs enrolled at the Teacher Training College in Lier in 1847, where he was taught music by Edouard Gregoir. Subsequently he moved to the Conservatory of Brussels, where he graduated in organ with Lemmens and in composition with Fétis in 1851 and 1852, respectively. Edouard Gregoir mentions with due pride that young Tilborghs earned his diplomas very fast, more precisely at the first competition following his admission. In 1855 followed his appointment at the Teacher Training College in Lier, where he continued serving until 1881. From 1861 on Tilborghs replaced Lemmens for many years when he went on the international circuit. In 1871 Tilborghs was appointed teacher of organ at the Conservatory of Ghent. In 1881 he became teacher of counterpoint and fugue at the Conservatory of Antwerp, a position he kept until his death. He was in great demand as an organ expert, e.g. in 1884 for the second opinion on the plans and the double-check of the building of the new Anneessens organ at St James' in Antwerp. Together with Callaerts he was also appointed by director Benoit to evaluate the new Schyven organ for the Antwerp Conservatory on 20 July 1889. 

He wrote mainly organ works and religious vocal works. His exemplary modesty transpires from an anecdote told by Emiel Hullebroeck: "We had a lot of fun in the class of Professor Tilborghs. We loved the old gentleman, who had a heart of gold, was as meek as a lamb and was very much dedicated to his teaching. Even so, we could not refrain from bribing the bellows blower so as to create a void, suddenly in the middle of a fortissimo! Tilborghs' improvisation classes proved very productive, and we owe a substantial part of our practical musical training to this gentle man, who always remained simple, also in his dressing code. We knew that he lived in Lier and that his landlady was somewhat prudish. What she may have said or thought when we sprayed good old Tilborghs with perfume one day, has remained unknown." 

© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek vzw - Annelies Focquaert (translation: Joris Duytschaever)