Stamp of the Month: December 2022

César Franck

Belgium 11.5.1985
The French composer and organist César Auguste Jean Guillaume Hubert Franck was born on December 10, 1822 in Liège, then part of the Kingdom of the United Netherlands. He died in Paris on November 8, 1890. December 2022 will be his 200th birthday.

After the family moved to Paris, César Franck received music lessons there and was admitted to the Paris Conservatory in 1837. In 1846 he got a job as organist at the church of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette and from 1851 to 1858 at Saint-Jean-Saint-François. In 1857 he first became “maître de chapelle” and in 1858 finally titular organist at Ste-Clotilde. In 1872 he was appointed professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory, where his students included Vincent d’Indy, Henri Duparc and Guillaume Lekeu.
César Franck was a co-founder of the Société Nationale de Musique in 1871 and was later elected its president. In 1885 he became a Knight of the Legion of Honour.
As a composer, César Franck initially wrote piano music with little success. It was only when he took up his position at the church of Ste-Clotilde that he began to write music for the organ. Above all, he had the “simple organists” in mind, who had to arrange the service Sunday after Sunday. For them he composed numerous shorter pieces, which were published in two anthologies entitled “L’Organiste”. He only wrote his best-known works today in the last years of his life.

The video shows the cathedral organist Matthias Maierhofer on the choir organ of the Freiburg Minster, performing César Franck’s “Prélude, Fugue et Variation op. 18”.