Aristide Cavaillé-Coll (1811-1899)
Aristide Cavaillé-Coll was a 19th Century French organ builder. He completed his first organ in 1840. The period from the French Revolution beginning in 1789 and during the time of Cavaillé-Coll’s first organ was devoid of french organ music. Many pipe organs in France were auctioned off or destroyed, and many organists lost their jobs during the revolution. Some kept their jobs because they played popular music glorifying the revolution. When Cavaillé-Coll built his first organ there was basically one French organ composer named Boëlly who was writing for the organ. Cavaillé-Coll revolutionized organ building in France and he encouraged organists to compose for his romantic organs. He worked together with composers to promote their music and they wrote music that fit well together with the sounds of his organs. It was because of Cavaillé-Coll that French organ music became an important part of 19th century France. The organ in the Basilica of St. Denis was the first organ that Cavaillé-Coll built.
Pierre Pincemaille (1956-2018)
Pierre Pincemaille was a French organist who was well known for his improvisations during live performances and on cd recordings. He recorded Charles-Marie Widor’s organ symphonies on several Cavaillé-Coll organs, as well as works by Franck, Duruflé, Cochereau, and Vierne. Pierre graduated from the Paris Conservatory with first prizes in harmony, counterpoint, fugue, organ, and improvisation. He became the organist of St. Denis in 1987 and played there until his death on January 12, 2018. In the video clips you are about to see, Pierre Pincemaille improvises on the organ of St. Denis. He is making up the music on the spot. Enjoy!