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Cesar Franck

 Composer (1822-1890).César Franck was born in Liège and studied music and the piano at the Conservatory there and then in Paris. He graduated from the Paris Conservatory in 1842 and returned to Belgium for two years, before returning to Paris for the rest of his life. This may have been because he did not want to become a concert pianist as his father wished. In Paris he taught music and was a church organist at Notre-Dame de Lorette (1847-51), SS Jean & François (1851-58) and Ste Clothilde (1858-90). Franck worked closely with the great organ-builder Cavaillé-Coll, who built the organ at Ste Clothilde, and used the wider range and “symphonic” sound of Cavaillé-Coll’s organs to develop organ music from the somewhat austere counterpoint of Bach to a lush Romantic sound. His first music for organ was published in 1868, and in 1872 he was appointed Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatory, a post he held until his death. He taught d’Indy, Chausson, Vierne and Duparc among others. He virtually re-invented the organist’s role in the liturgy, especially the skill of improvising, at which he was a master. His musical output includes twelve pieces for organ, a symphony, a set of symphonic variations for piano and orchestra, a piano quintet, a piano sonata, the tone poem Le Chasseur maudit, and the choral piece Panis Angelicus, which is still frequently performed and recorded. Franck died from injuries sustained in a road traffic accident in Paris, and is buried in the Montparnasse cemetery.

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