Marcel Quinet (1915-1986) attended the music academy of his native town Binche before completing his studies at the Royal Conservatory of Mons. By 1934, he entered the Royal Music Conservatory of Brussels where he earned several successes: a first prize in fugue (Prix Gevaert, 1938), Master Degree in piano (Prix Ella Olin, 1942), a composition prize (Prix Agniez, 1946), etc.
Marcel Quinet studied with major teachers such as Fernand Quinet (harmony), Léon Jongen (fugue), and Marcel Maas (piano). He learnt composition with Léon Jongen and more particularly with Jean Absil.
In 1945, he was awarded the Premier Grand Prix de Rome for his cantata “La Vague et le Sillon”. This marked the start of his career as a composer. He received a Second Prize at the Queen Elisabeth Composition Competition, with his “Variation pour Orchestre” (1957). In 1959, the CeBeDeM awarded Marcel Quinet the Prize of Composition Emile Doehaert for his “Divertimento”. He received the Prix de l’Union de la Presse Musicale Belge in 1964, the Prix Irma de la Hault in 1966, la bourse Koopal in 1970, le Prix SABAM in 1972 and the Prix de la Fondation Darche in 1978.
He first taught at the Academy of Binche (1939-1943) before teaching piano at the Academy of Etterbeek (1941-1969). As of 1943, he was piano lecturer at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels; he then became a professor of written harmony (1948-1959) and later fugue (1959-1979). In both Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode and Schaerbeek, he was director of the Music Academy (1951-1975); he repeatedly taught as a special and later associate professor of composition at the Chapelle Reine Elisabeth of Belgium (1968-1979). At the SABAM, he held the positions of managing-director (1976-1980) and chairman of the Mutual Aid and Solidarity Fund (1980-1986).
By 1959 he has become a well-known figure in 20th century music. «In Marcel Quinet’s first works, especially through Hindemith there were signs of a strong will to return to Bach. Elsewhere there are clear signs of his admiration for Bartok but Absil’s influence proved undoubtedly decisive in his works. This influence clearly materialised in the way he developed his melodies, in his elegant countrepoint writing and in his firm handling of orchestration. Quinet admirably succeeded in writing for piano. Above all, he enjoyed working out formal sets in which heightened sensibility was visible» wrote Robert Wangermée. In his creative work, Marcel Quinet assimilated the most radical novelties and integrated them into his own personal expression including various influences from Bartok, Stravinsky and the Viennese School. Although he has started with tonal music, he later concentrated on plurimodality and non-serial atonal chromatic music. In 1969 he discovered the importance of the music of ancient Greece and more specially its metric structure, as his later works tend to show it.
He was appointed Correspondent in 1976 and later member in 1978 of Fine Arts Class at the Royal Academy of Belgium.
Marcel Quinet left behind hundreds of listed works, expressed in modern language, remarkably written in a very personal way without excess, with the refinement that was so typical of his expression.