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Sunday’s Worship Music

January 20, 2019

Voluntary

Prélude (from Prélude, Fugue et Variation) – César Franck

Offertory

(8:30) Andante (from Grande Pièce Symphonique) – Franck

(11:00) O Lord Most Holy – Franck

THIS MORNING’S MUSIC celebrates the life and work of César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck, who was born 196 years ago in Liège, in what is now Belgium. Franck was a church musician for all of his adult life. As a composer and improviser, he began the trend in French church music away from the ‘light’ style prevalent in the mid-nineteenth century toward music that was more intense, devout and ‘important.’ In 1858 he became the first organist of the then-new Church of St. Clotilde in Paris, a post he would hold until his death, and in 1872 he was appointed professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory, where his impressive roster of students included Louis Vierne, Vincent d’Indy, Ernest Chausson and Henri Duparc, among others. (Interestingly, Franck had to become a French citizen as a requirement of the position.) It is a testament to Franck that his reputation as one of the greatest composers for the organ rests upon a mere twelve compositions (his posthumous Trois Chorals are a cornerstone of the organ repertoire). At the height of his career, Franck would die in 1890 of complications from a taxi accident when his horse-drawn carriage was struck by a Parisian streetcar.