César Franck Biography
César Franck born as César Auguste Jean Guillaume Hubert Franck was a composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher born on 10th December 1822 in Liège, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. He passed on 8th November 1890.
He was born at Liège, in what is now Belgium. He gave his first concerts there in 1834 and studied privately in Paris from 1835, where his teachers included Anton Reicha. After a brief return to Belgium, and a disastrous reception to an early oratorio Ruth, he moved to Paris, where he married and embarked on a career as teacher and organist. He gained a reputation as a formidable improviser, and travelled widely in France to demonstrate new instruments built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
In 1858 he became an organist at Sainte-Clotilde, a position he retained for the rest of his life. He became a professor at the Paris Conservatoire in 1872; he took French nationality, a requirement of the appointment. His pupils included Vincent d’Indy, Ernest Chausson, Louis Vierne, Charles Tournemire, Guillaume Lekeu and Henri Duparc. After acquiring the professorship Franck wrote several pieces that have entered the standard classical repertoire, including symphonic, chamber, and keyboard works.
César Franck Prelude Fugue and Variation
César Franck wrote his Prelude, fugue and Variation in B minor, FWV 30, in 1860-62. The work has also been catalogued as Op. 18, and it bears dedication to Camille Saint-Saens.
It is a coposition for organ by Franck, written between 1860 and 1862. This work is made up of four movements in the so minor tone, but must be played chained, because they are conceived as a single element (sequence of tones, pedals, etc.).
César Franck Sonata
The Violin Sonata in A was written in 1886, when César Franck was 63, as a wedding present for the 31-year-old violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. Twenty-eight years earlier, in 1858, Franck had promised a violin sonata for Cosima von Bülow. This never appeared; it has been speculated that whatever work Franck had done on that piece was put aside, and eventually ended up in the sonata he wrote for Ysaÿe in 1886.
Franck was not present when Ysaÿe married, but on the morning of the wedding, on 26 September 1886 in Arlon, their mutual friend Charles Bordes presented the work as Franck’s gift to Ysaÿe and his bride Louise Bourdeau de Courtrai. After a hurried rehearsal, Ysaÿe and Bordes’ sister-in-law, the pianist Marie-Léontine Bordes-Pène, played the Sonata to the other wedding guests.
The Sonata was given its first public concert performance on 16 December of that year, at the Musée Moderne de Peinture (Museum of Modern Painting) in Brussels. The Sonata was the final item in a long program that started at 3 pm. When the time arrived for the Sonata, dusk had fallen and the gallery was bathed in gloom, but the museum authorities permitted no artificial light whatsoever.
Initially, it seemed the Sonata would have to be abandoned, but Ysaÿe and Bordes-Pène decided to continue regardless. They had to play the last three movements from memory in virtual darkness. When the violinist Armand Parent remarked that Ysaÿe had played the first movement faster than the composer intended, Franck replied that Ysaÿe had made the right decision, saying “from now on there will be no other way to play it”. Vincent d’Indy, who was present, recorded these details of the event.
Ysaÿe kept the Violin Sonata in his repertoire for the next 40 years of his life, with a variety of pianists, like Théo Ysaÿe, Ernest Chausson, Ferruccio Busoni, Vincent d’Indy, Raoul Pugno, Camille Decreus, Arthur De Greef, Leopold Godowsky, Yves Nat, and many others. His championing of the Sonata contributed to the public recognition of Franck as a major composer. This recognition was quite belated; Franck died within four years of the Sonata’s public première, and did not have his first unqualified public success until the last year of his life (on 19 April 1890, at the Salle Pleyel, where his String Quartet in D was premiered).
The piece is further notable for the difficulty of its piano part, when compared with most of the chamber repertoire. Its technical problems include frequent extreme extended figures—the composer himself having possessed very large hands—and virtuoso runs and leaps, particularly in the second movement (though some passages can be facilitated by employing a spare hand to cover some notes).
César Franck Symphony in D Minor
This is the most famous orchestral work and the only mature symphony written by the 19th-century Belgian composer César Franck. After two years of work, the symphony was completed 22 August 1888. It was premiered at the Paris Conservatory on 17 February 1889 under the direction of Jules Garcin. He dedicated it to his pupil Henri Duparc.
The score calls for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 soprano clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 cornets, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, 3 timpani, harp and strings.
In a departure from typical late-romantic symphonic structure, the Symphony in D minor is in three movements, each of which makes reference to the initial four-bar theme introduced at the beginning of the piece. The omission of the standard Scherzo movement is in part compensated for with a scherzo-like treatment in the second movement.
- I. Lento; Allegro ma non troppo.
- An expansion of a standard sonata-allegro form, the symphony begins with a harmonically lithe subject (below) that is spun through widely different keys throughout the movement.
- This simple theme forms the thematic basis for the cyclic treatment in the rest of the work.
- II. Allegretto
- Famous for the haunting melody played by the English horn above plucked harp and strings. The movement is punctuated by two trios and a lively section that is reminiscent of a scherzo.
- III. Finale: Allegro non troppo
- The movement begins with possibly the most joyful and upbeat melody Franck ever wrote and is written in a variant of Sonata form. The coda, which recapitulates the core thematic material of the symphony, is an exultant exclamation of the first theme, inverting its initial lugubrious appearance and bringing the symphony back to its beginnings.
César Franck College
This is a local public educational institution located in the 2nd district and has 12 divisions (it is a small college). The college plays the card of the reception as part of its mission of public service and gives a reassuring image in terms of supervision and in terms of academic success of all students to all parents.
Its objective is to give the material and pedagogical conditions to each student so that he / she can obtain his college certificate and the orientation of his choice in the high school he wishes.
César Franck Illness and Death
During July 1890, Franck was riding in a cab which was struck by a horse-drawn trolley, injuring his head and causing a short fainting spell. There seemed to be no immediate after-effects; he completed his trip and he himself considered it of no import. However, walking became painful and he found himself
increasingly obliged to absent himself first from concerts and rehearsals, and then to give up his lessons at the Conservatoire. He took his vacation as soon as he could in Nemours, where he hoped to work on the proposed organ pieces as well as some commissioned works for harmonium. During the vacation he was able to start on both projects.
Franck started the new term at the Conservatoire in October, but caught a cold mid-month. This turned into pleurisy complicated by pericarditis. After that, his condition rapidly worsened and he died on 8 November. A pathologist writing in 1970 observed that, while Franck’s death has traditionally been linked to his street injury, and there may have been a connection, the respiratory infection by itself could have led to a terminal illness
César Franck Choral in A minor
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