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César Franck (portrait et autographe)


1822 - 1890

Composer, Organist, Pianist

Date of birth:
Date of death:

Although he was born in Liège, Belgium, César Franck, became a key figure in the French music world at the end of the nineteenth century. He received his early music training from 1831 at the Liège Conservatoire in the classes of Jalheau (piano) and Daussoigne (harmony). Four years later, shortly after making his concert début, he moved with his family to Paris, where he studied with Reicha, then at the Conservatoire with Zimmerman (piano), Leborne (counterpoint), Berton (composition) and Benoist (organ). However, in 1842, his father, wishing his son to concentrate on a career as a virtuoso, withdrew him from the Conservatoire, putting an end to his promising studies there, and took his family back to Belgium. Three years later, having left home after a family quarrel, Franck returned to Paris alone. To support himself, he gave private lessons, taught at various schools and institutions and held several positions as organist. His situation remained somewhat precarious until 1859, when he was appointed organist of the church of Sainte-Clotilde, where he showed exceptional skill at improvisation. Reputed as a teacher, he became professor of organ at the Conservatoire in 1871 and influenced many artists, including Chausson, d’Indy, Duparc, Vierne and Tournemire. He was one of the founder members of the Société Nationale de Musique, and he became its president in 1886. The works he left show strength and depth, with great mastery of style and constant concern for formal perfection. They include his symphonic poems and organ works, the oratorios Rédemption and Les Béatitudes, the Piano Quintet, the Violin Sonata and his Symphony in D minor.