Cesar Franck (1822-1890)
Cesar Franck was a French composer, organist, and teacher born in Belgium. Franck’s father wanted his son to have a career as a piano virtuoso so young Cesar studied piano at Liege Conservatory and Paris Conservatory and then did some performances as a pianist. Cesar Franck wasn’t interested in a career as a piano virtuoso. It was only later that he found his true calling through various appointments as an organist in Paris culminating in his position as organist at St. Clotilde. Franck began teaching and in the early 1870s he was appointed professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory.
Franck is known today among music lovers for his Violin Sonata, Symphony in d minor, and dozen organ works (although he wrote over 100 small pieces for organ or harmonium). Franck’s career as a musician didn’t blossom until late in his life. His first compositions for organ were written in 1862. During his lifetime, Franck was celebrated for his improvisations on the organ.
The Prelude, Fugue and Variation op.18 is part of the collection of six pieces for organ. It was originally written for harmonium and piano, later arranged for pipe organ, and then arranged for solo piano. Franck had a gift for composing simple but beautiful melodies. In his organ music the pedal parts are very simple, but the beautiful melodies and harmonies more than make up for what little goes on in the pedal part.
Here is a a recording of Franck’s Prelude, Fugue and Variation op.18 for organ played by Conrad Kleiger. I hope you enjoy this beautiful music.