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César Franck

December 10, 1822 - November 8, 1890
born in Liège, Belgium, composed during the Romantic period
César Franck is an important composer from the latter half of the nineteenth century, particularly in the realms of symphonic, chamber, organ and piano music. His stage works were uniformly unsuccessful, though his choral compositions fared somewhat better. Born in Liège (in the French region which in 1830 became part of a new state, Belgium), on December 10, 1822, he led a group of young composers, among them d'Indy, Duparc, and Dukas, who found much to admire in his highly individual post-Romantic style, with its rich, innovative harmonies, sometimes terse melodies, and skilled contrapuntal writing. This group, sometimes known as "la bande à Franck," steered French composition toward symphonic and chamber music, finally breaking the stranglehold of the more conservative opera over French music.

Franck was a keyboard player of extraordinary ability who had a short stint as a touring piano virtuoso before moving to Paris and throwing himself into musical studies. In addition, he was an organist at several major churches during his career, and his skills on the organ accounted in great part for his compositional interest in that instrument; his organ compositions stand at the apex of the Romantic organ repertoire. Franck was a man of strong religious convictions throughout his life, which often motivated him to compose works based on biblical texts or on other church sources. For much of his life he was organist at the Paris churches of St.-Jean-St. François and then Ste.-Clothilde, and in 1872 he became a professor at the Paris Conservatoire.

Individual and instantly recognizable though his music was, it owes a debt to Liszt and Wagner, especially to the latter's Tristan und Isolde and several other late works. He tended to use rather quick modulations, another inheritance from Wagner, and shifting harmonies. There is a Germanic ponderousness in some of his compositions; consider, for example, the opening of the Symphony in D minor of 1888, probably Franck's most famous composition. In this work, one hears a mixture of paradoxical elements so typical of the composer: for example, moments of peace and serenity barely conceal an undercurrent of disquiet. In this symphony, Franck, adapts the Lisztian-Wagnerian predilection toward cyclical structure and melodic motto to an abstract symphonic form. Another characteristic of Franck's music is extended homophonic writing, as exemplified in his choral symphonic poem Psyché.

Franck died in Paris on November 8, 1890. By the turn of the century he had become the leading figure associated with the "Old School" in France, while Debussy came to represent the "progressive" forces. ~ Rovi Staff, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Cesar Franck: Great Organ Works

Disc 1
Title: Pieces (3), For Organ, M. 35-37
Title: Grande Pièce Symphonique, For Organ In F Sharp Minor, Op. 17, M. 29
Title: Pastorale, For Organ In E Major, Op. 19, M. 31
Title: Fantasy, For Organ In C Major, Op. 16, M. 28
Disc 2
Title: Prélude, Fugue, Et Variations, For Organ In B Minor, Op. 18, M. 30
Title: Chorals (3), For Organ, M. 38-40
Title: Prière, For Organ In C Sharp Minor, Op. 20, M. 32
Title: Final, For Organ In B Flat Major, Op. 21, M. 33
x

Track List: César Franck: Symphony In D Minor; Le Chasseur Maudit

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Track List: The Best Of César Franck

Disc 1
Title: Sonata for Violin & Piano in a Major, M. 8
Title: Pieces (3), For Organ, M. 35-37
Title: Chorals (3), For Organ, M. 38-40
Title: Panis Angelicus For Tenor, Organ, Harp, Cello & Bass
Title: Symphonic Variations, For Piano & Orchestra (Also Arr. For 2 Pianos), M. 46
Disc 2
Title: Les Éolides, Symphonic Poem For Orchestra (also Arr. For 2 Pianos)
Title: Prélude, Choral, Et Fugue, For Piano, M. 21
Title: Pieces (3), For Organ, M. 35-37
Title: Symphony In D Minor, Op. 48

Comments

lkgrebnel
Let's hear Franck's choral works, non liturgical. . . thx
I got to pick up Marie-Claire Alain, & make friends w/ her @ the week-long Organist' Seminar that she gave to us as organ students @ the Hartt College of Music, University of Hartford in the late 70's in my brand-new 1975 white Honda Civic, which was a celebration gift to me by my cousin, Theresa, upon learning that I had matriculated @ the U. of H. on a full-ride scholarship, based upon my 3rd solo organ tour of Europe & my Audition Recital for Dr. John Holtz, head of the Liturgical Music Dept.
Love Franck on his birthday!
And what a technically exquisite album cover shot that is at crepuscule with the eyeful tower in the background with just the exact exposure and composition. Nice job photog.
lkgrebnel
Appreciate hearing all of the D Minor. . . thx
Soooooo nice and calm! Love it!!:)
César Franck was the giant hinge, the pivot point from which French music veered onto its new course throughout the 20th century. Franck represented the last iterations of French Romanticism and sowed the seeds of what was to come: Les Six, Impressionis m , more modernistic expressions. The publication after his death in 1890 of the Trois Chorales, his final work, was the true fulcrum for French classical music at the end of the 19th century.
drlarry45
I agree also. I love his chamber music and the so called old school French style as noted above.
I agree. i once heard a movement from a cello sonata of his and the subtlety still haunts me today... beauty-ful music!
Cesar Franck composed other works not written for organ, including a great symphony. Please add some variety to works by this composer, not just for organ.

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