Cesar Franck (that's FRAHNK) was on my mind this week. I don't know why, but perhaps I heard a piece of a piece of his and recognized it without realizing it. That happens sometimes. Franck is a role model for those of us at a certain age who know, just know, that we still have some adventure and creativity left in us. His only symphony was performed by the orchestra of the Paris Conservatoire when he was sixty-six (1889). The critics, audience, and even musicians were not thrilled with the piece that evening. Here's the whole Symphony in D Minor, performed by my favorite orchestra, the Philadelphia, conducted by Riccardo Muti. As they say on Saturday evenings on Turner Classic Movies, "It's an ESSENTIAL!"
Franck was a frugal man who never traveled far from Paris: the Conservatoire, his students' homes, and the Church of Saint-Clothilde where he played the organ. The story goes that he was saving money to take a trip to Beyreuth to hear a Wagner opera, but his darn wife found the money and used it for household expenses.
Franck was an organist and organ teacher at the Conservatoire, so guess what instrument turns up often in his compositions...the orgel. Hear the Prelude, Fugue, and Variations, Op. 18, here:
But he wrote for other instruments, too:
That's the second movement of his String Quartet (Scherzo Vivace). This work was not performed until his last year (1890), and was well-received by the audience at the Société National de la Musique.
(One might surmise that Cesar Franck (FRAHNK) did not pose for many headshots during his career, but remember he was a frugal man.)
Franck lived humbly and died tragically. He was hit by a bus on his way to a student's home and tried to perform a two-piano version of his Variations Symphoniques with that student. He did not make it through the performance, though; he left, stopping on the way at Saint Clothilde to say good bye to the organ, and died soon after in his bed.
|Franck's Tomb, bust by Rodin|