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Remembering César Franck’s Organ Class at the Paris Conservatory: His Impassioned Quest for Artistic Beauty Part 1

January 16, 2024
César Franck
César Franck

 A French-American organist and musicologist, Carolyn Shuster Fournier studied piano and violin before taking organ lessons at the age of thirteen with Gary Zwicky. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College Conservatory, Wheaton, Illinois, with Gladys Christensen, and a master’s degree from New England Conservatory, Boston, Massachusetts, with Yuko Hayashi, she continued her organ studies in Paris with Marie-Claire Alain, André Isoir, and Michel Chapuis. During the summers of 1976 and 1977, she studied organ with Wolfgang Rübsam at Northwestern University. She received Premiers Prix in organ at the conservatories in Rueil-Malmaison and Boulogne-Billancourt, a master’s degree in music education with highest distinction at the Sorbonne in Paris, and a Ph.D. in musicology with honors at Tours University for her doctoral thesis on Aristide Cavaillé-Coll’s secular organs. Organist at the American Cathedral in 1988 and 1989, she was then appointed titular of the Cavaillé-Coll choir organ at the Church of the Holy Trinity, where she founded a weekly noontime concert series. After thirty-three years of faithful service, she was named Honorary Choir Organist.

An international concert organist, in 2007 the French Cultural Minister awarded Shuster Fournier the distinction of Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters. In 2022 Delatour France Editions published the English translation she made with Connie Glessner of Helga Schauerte’s book, Jehan Alain, Understanding His Musical Genius. She has made recordings and contributed to specialized reviews and to Fugue State Films Documentaries.

César Franck: a worthy heir to François Benoist and Alexis Chauvet in promoting Johann Sebastian Bach’s organ works

César Franck (1822–1890) taught organ at the Paris Conservatory for eighteen years, from 1872 to 1890. François Benoist preceded him as organ professor from 1819 to 1872, and Charles-Marie Widor succeeded him from 1890 to 1896. What were the circumstances that led to Franck’s nomination to this institution sponsored by the French government? Who were his students? What were his pedagogical principles? How did they differ from those of his successor? Did he leave a legacy?

Much is known about the life of this child prodigy whose authoritarian father, Nicolas Joseph Franck (1794–1871), a modest bank employee and an amateur musician, had exploited his talents and those of his younger brother Joseph (1825–1891) after their musical education at the Royal School of Music in Liège, Belgium.1 It is certainly thanks to Pauline García that César Franck came to Paris to study privately with her professor, Anton Reicha.2 They met in Brussels on April 25, 1835. She highly appreciated his agile and energetic musicianship when accompanying her sister Maria Malibran. From June 24, 1835, to May 11, 1836,3 like Pauline García, Franck embraced Reicha’s free spirit, his vast Germanic cultural outlook, his interest in the writings of Kant and Aristotle, his faithfulness to past German masters, and his love of architectural compositional structure and canonic writing manifest in his 36 Fugues (1805).

Equipped with this musical baggage, César Franck studied at the Paris Conservatory, where he won a first prize in piano in 1838, a first prize in counterpoint and fugue in 1840, and a second prize in organ in 1841. This sufficed for his shrewd father, who made him leave the conservatory on April 22, 1842, to earn his living as a music professor and concert artist. In October 1838 at the age of sixteen, Franck began teaching piano and harmony with his brother, Joseph, from their home at 22, rue Montholon in the New Athens neighborhood. The brothers were inspired by Anton Reicha’s visionary pedagogy.4 He then gave music lessons at the Collège Rollin (now the Jacques-Decour High School [Collège-Lycée]), at the Augustinian College of the Assumption (234, Faubourg Saint-Honoré), at an Institution for Young Girls in Auteuil, and in the autumn of 1852 at the Jesuit High School [Collège] of the Immaculate Conception in Vaugirard, where Henri Duparc and Arthur Coquard experienced his “musical rhetoric:”5

renown as “a nearly mysterious” professor . . . who was at once ingenious, with a peculiar face and a delightfully pleasant and a comical manner of dressing. He seemed to have the piety of a saint, and that filled us with an artistic awe . . . whose expression, really exuded a gentle manner, happiness, honesty, which were hardly terrestrial.6

César’s assiduous teaching enabled him to escape his father’s exploitation of his talents. He married one of his students, Félicité Desmousseaux, on February 22, 1848, at Notre-Dame de Lorette Church, where he had been the choir organist since 1845. His son Georges was born at the end of the year. Franck felt very comfortable in this New Athens neighborhood where cosmopolitan artists such as Frédéric Chopin, Charles-Valentin Alkan, Franz Liszt, Chevalier Sigismund Neukomm, and his piano professor, Pierre Zimmermann, played J. S. Bach’s music.

On May 15, 1851, the year Franck was appointed titular organist of the Cavaillé-Coll organ at Saint-Jean-Saint-François Church, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll installed his first organ with a thirty-note German-style pedalboard in Pauline García-Viardot’s home at 48, rue de Douai. Nine months later, on January 16, 1852, these musicians all attended a performance by Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens of Bach’s works on the Cavaillé-Coll organ at Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church. Following this concert, François Benoist wrote to Aristide Cavaillé-Coll:

That which especially struck me was this calm and religious greatness and this severe style which is so appropriate to the majesty of God’s temple. . . . It is a great merit, in my viewpoint, to rest faithful to the traditions of the grand masters who, in the past century, had founded the true art of the organ.7

Franck had lived at 69, rue Blanche, in the same building as Adèle Blanc, who married Cavaillé-Coll on February 4, 1854, in the second chapel of Sainte-Trinité Church.8 On December 19, 1859, Franck became titular organist of the new Cavaillé-Coll organ at Sainte-Clotilde Church, located in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. In 1862 when his melody Souvenance [Remembrance] was published, Franck thanked Pauline Viardot by dedicating it to her.9

In 1868 when Franck’s Six Pièces, composed between 1858 and 1862, were published, they were dedicated to his close friends: Alexis Chauvet, Camille Saint-Saëns, Charles-Valentin Alkan, Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély, François Benoist, and Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. One must remember that Alexis Chauvet had been destined to succeed François Benoist as organ professor at the Paris Conservatory. An extremely talented organist, composer, and professor, Chauvet had won first prizes in organ, fugue, and composition at the Paris Conservatory, where he had assisted Ambroise Thomas in teaching his class. His Twenty Pieces for organ, published in 1862 and dedicated to François Benoist, manifest the influence of Bach and the French Classical composers; like Alexandre Boëly’s music, his works are linked to the German and French schools.

Chauvet’s and Franck’s collections greatly assisted the resurrection of the great art of the organ in France.10 Both of them had performed in Cavaillé-Coll’s workshops and inaugurated his organs, those at Notre-Dame Cathedral on March 6, 1868, and at Sainte-Trinité Church on March 16, 1869, where Chauvet was appointed titular organist on March 24. Thanks to Chauvet’s highly esteemed advice, Cavaillé-Coll’s great organ and choir organ at Sainte-Trinité Church both had thirty-note pedalboards. Nicknamed “little Father Bach,”11 Chauvet’s Fifteen Preparatory Studies to the Works of Bach (1867) had initiated his students to this great master’s polyphony.

The Leipzig Bach Society published the Bach Gesellschaft between 1851 and 1899. Bach’s organ works became available in 1864 to Parisian subscribers such as Alkan, Chauvet, Viardot, and Saint-Saëns. In 1865 E. Repos published Joseph Franck’s editions of twenty-two Bach preludes and fugues. Unfortunately, the Paris Conservatory’s organ students were not able to acquire an excellent pedal technique necessary for performing Bach’s organ works, simply because its 1819 Grenié studio organ only had a twenty-note pedalboard that was “too large and disproportionate.”12

In 1853 Pierre Érard constructed concert pianos with a thirty-two-note pedalboard, with a ravalement that began at A, using a system that was coupled to the low notes of the piano. In 1855 both Pauline Viardot’s organ and Érard’s piano-pédalier were promoted at the World’s Fair. On the piano-pédalier, Alkan performed Bach’s virtuosic Toccata in F Major, which highlighted two pedal solos. In this same year Bach’s Fugue in E Minor was a required work for the Paris Conservatory’s organ competition. In 1858 the Niedermeyer School imposed Bach’s Passacaglia at its final organ exam. Cavaillé-Coll had applied a pedalboard to an upright piano13 and Franck had purchased a Pleyel vertical pedalboard (N° 25 655),14 which, “instead of merely coupling the piano keys to the pedals, was completely independent, with its own strings, hammers, and mechanism.”15 Chauvet had installed one in a painting studio where he taught. At the Collège in Vaugirard, Franck gave his lessons on a piano with a pedalboard in a small room with stained glass windows.16

In 1870 the conservatory ordered two Cavaillé-Coll organs,17 one with three sixty-one-note manuals and seventeen stops for the Société des Concerts Hall, contracted on September 26, 1870, and the other one with three fifty-six-note manuals and twenty-six stops, contracted on November 5, 1870, to replace the inadequate Grenié studio organ. Chauvet advised that these organs should possess thirty-note pedalboards. Unfortunately, he died of a lung infection on January 29, 1871, during the Prussian siege of Paris, just one week after the death of Franck’s father in Aix-la-Chapelle and three days after the armistice had been signed. Charles Gounod lamented his death on March 13 in London:

In London, I learned at this very instant through one of my friends of the death of poor Chauvet, organist of the Great Organ of our parish. This is a great loss! There are few Chauvets, unfortunately.18

Esprit Auber, director of the Paris Conservatory, died on May 5, 1871, during the revolutionary government that had been instituted on March 18. Ambroise Thomas succeeded him, after Gounod had refused to become director of the conservatory. Twenty-three days later, a week of bloody violence ended the Commune. Franck, a “moderate Republican” (Républicain modéré),19 had remained in Paris during this difficult period. On February 25, 1871, he contributed to the founding of the Société national de musique, which aspired to give birth to new French music.

How did Franck succeed François Benoist? It is well known that Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Théodore Dubois supported his nomination as organ professor at the Paris Conservatory. On August 21 Franck had written to Charles Blanc, director of fine arts, to notify him that he could replace François Benoist.20 On October 1, 1871, his friend Pauline Viardot was appointed voice professor at the Paris Conservatory. Charles Blanc and his brother Louis, a socialist and Republican politician, were both friends of Pauline’s husband, Louis Viardot, an eminent art collector. The Viardots and Louis Blanc had just seen each other in London. On November 12, 1871, a decree by the president of the Republic granted Franck the rights to reside in France.21 On January 31, 1872, Jules Simon signed a decree for the General Secretary of the State Department of Public Instruction of Worship and the Fine Arts, which stipulated that Franck would be appointed as organ professor there.22 Benoist retired on the next day, February 1. However, Ambroise Thomas only officially appointed Franck to succeed him after he had received on February 17, 1872, the official letter from Charles Blanc indicating César Franck’s appointment as organ professor. Then forty-nine years old, Franck had been nominated for this eminent post in spite of the fact that he had only received a second prize in organ there, unlike his brother Joseph, who had received a first prize in Benoist’s class in 1852.

Two new Cavaillé-Coll organs at the Paris Conservatory

Unfortunately, the violence in the capital had drastically reduced the conservatory’s funds. Constructing two new organs was out of the question. Since the Grenié studio organ was unplayable, the conservatory had asked Cavaillé-Coll to revise it and to construct another one for the conservatory’s Société des Concerts Hall, using elements from Sébastian Érard’s 1830 Château de la Muette organ, which his daughter-in-law, Madame Pierre Érard, had given to the conservatory in 1863. The construction of the seventeen-stop concert hall organ was delayed—it began on August 31, 1871, but was not finished until October 5, 1872.

Cavaillé-Coll encountered some difficulties installing this organ. Constructed in a parallelogram shape of wood covered with painted canvases, the concert hall had an excellent acoustic. However, in 1866 Alexis-Joseph Mazerolle had redecorated it by placing irremovable panels in the Pompeian style of the Second Empire that were eight and a half meters high at the back of the stage. This stage was reserved for the declamation classes, and the only possible place to install the organ without bothering the scene shifters

was behind the decorative panels at the back of the stage, where an insufficient opening was found that would allow it to be seen as a half-length portrait, as in a Guignol theater.23

According to Jules Lissajous, the organ was placed in a limited space, on the axis with the stage at the height of the first balcony, and the access to its pipework and mechanics was difficult since

the instrument was entirely separated from the Hall by a rotunda that formed the stage and that encircled the amphitheater where a notable part of the Orchestre Société des Concerts was placed; the sound not coming from this side, resounds from the openings on the upper sides of the stage and is lost in the ceilings and in the hallways and, to make these circumstances worse, a ceiling sagged in two [sections] is suspended at a rather short distance in front of the organ and immediately blocks the sound waves that emanate from the expression box.24

A vintage drawing of the console is illustrated in Example 1.25

Due to the unmovable panels, the sound of the organ was insufficient to accompany singers. Cavaillé-Coll was very disappointed, especially since he was then building a monumental sixty-four-stop concert organ for the city of Sheffield in England, installed in 1873. Unfortunately, due to the violent Commune, the French government had to wait until 1878 to finance the construction of the organ for the concert hall of the Trocadéro festival hall. In the meantime, Cavaillé-Coll observed that

the delay justified by the extent of the work on the grand orgue nevertheless would not have resulted in any loss to the administration, since in this manner, the organ class was able to use the former studio organ until the installation of the grand orgue on which the students may continue to work during the repairs of the studio organ.26

Example 2 of the organ room located just behind the stage of the concert hall illustrates this situation, “Salle d’Orgue.”

After his appointment to the conservatory in 1872, Franck taught on the concert hall organ from February to June and began teaching on the studio organ in October, since it was reconstructed beginning February 23 with reinstallation completed on October 7 in the organ room,27 a small eighteenth-century Rococo-style theater where Benoist had taught. Its pipes were placed in an expressive box to protect them from accumulating dust often found in theaters. It had new mechanical-action keyboards, but its former windchests and nine and a half of its sixteen stops, excluding free reeds, had been retained:

Grand-Orgue (enclosed, 54 notes)

8′ Flûte

8′ Dessus de Flûte Harmonique (30 notes)

8′ Bourdon

4′ Dessus de Prestant (30 notes)

4′ Flûte

8′ Trompette

Récit (enclosed, 54 notes)

8′ Principal

8′ Flûte Traversière

8′ Voix Céleste

4′ Flûte Octaviante

8′ Trompette

8′ Basson and Hautbois

Pédale (enclosed, 30 notes)

16′ Soubasse

8′ Flûte

4′ Flûte

8′ Basson

Pédales de combinaison

Tirasse Grand-Orgue

Tirasse Récit

Copula Récit sur Grand-Orgue


This “wretched cuckoo of an organ”28 was activated by pulling a stop labeled Sonnette (Bell), and one stop remained Tacet. Its expression was activated by a hitch-down pedal with two notches located on the lower right side of the console as shown in the console layout diagram.29

Each of these organs was equipped with a thirty-note pedalboard. On December 29, 1872, Franck had performed Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E Minor on the new concert hall organ for the Société des Concerts. He had already performed “Adagio” and “Finale” from Hummel’s Fantaisie in E-flat Major on the piano in this hall on March 24, 1839. Performing at the organ this time, he was hidden from the auditors. Alexandre Cellier wrote about this concert hall organ in 1927:

In the hall of the former Conservatory, it’s the poor old instrument with 16 stops placed too high and muffled by an imposturous décor, which must struggle against 70 to 80 musicians. If the disproportion is less grand elsewhere, it does not place the organ in such a position of inferiority with the orchestra.30

Unfortunately, both organs have been removed and have disappeared.

César Franck’s approach to teaching: the technique should serve artistry and musicality

Franck, “a model functionary” (fonctionnaire modèle),31 punctually32 taught organ at the Paris Conservatory on the rue Bergère for six hours each week, during two hour-long sessions on three days.33 These collective lessons with male and female students mirrored the ones he had given in his home in 1838, which enabled students to listen to each other and to their professor. As in the past under François Benoist, his students took two semester exams, at the end of January and June, during which they accompanied a plainchant in four parts, improvised a four-part fugue and a free piece in sonata form—both based on themes chosen by the examiners—and played “a classic piece” of their choice by memory. In 1852 this memorized piece was a fugue; in 1867 it became a Bach fugue; in 1872 a Classical-era piece.34

Franck’s duty was to prepare his students to pass their exams. Prior to these exams, Franck received a report that indicated each student’s name, age, year of study, and previous awards in the class, on which he briefly evaluated, in a blank space that measured one and a half by four and a half inches, the student’s progress and indicated the piece he or she would play during the exam, in order to prepare the scores for the jury members. If they approved a student’s progress, they could award either a second or first accessit (certificates of merit). After each year’s final exam, a competition was held for advanced students, who could obtain either a second or first prize. Although these exams and competitions were closed to the public, their results could have a meaningful impact on the future career of each student.

While much has been said about Franck’s students who won first or second prizes, little is known about the rest of his class. Following is a list of students who enrolled in his class, their dates of participation, the period they were enrolled, and their awards:

Franck’s enrolled students at the Paris Conservatory35

Abbreviations: 1A (first accessit), 2A (second accessit), 1P (first prize), 2P (second prize)

Students who began with Benoist and continued with Franck:

Georges Deslandres (1849–1875), 1868: 1A/1868, remained until 1872

Paul Rougnon (1846–1934), 1868–1872

Paul Wachs (1851–1915), 1869: 2P/1870, 1P/1872

Bazile Benoît (1847–after 1900), 1868: 2A/1872, remained until 1873

Samuel Rousseau (1853–1904), 1871: 2A/1872, 1A/1875, 2P/1876, 1P/1877

Francis Thomé (1850–1909), 1871–1873

Students who studied entirely with Franck:

Jean Tolbecque (1857–1890), November 21, 1872: 1A/1873

Joseph Humblot (born in 1845), 1872: 1A/1873, 2P/1874

Marie-Antoinette [nicknamed Thérèse] Gaillard (1850–after 1900), November 9, 1872–June 7, 1873

Adèle Billault (1848–after 1900), December 20, 1872–June 11, 1875

Amédée Dutacq (1848–1929), January 1874–October 12, 1874

Vincent d’Indy (1851–1931), studied privately with Franck beginning October 13, 1872, and was an auditor in his class before officially enrolling January 14, 1874: 2A/1874, 1A/1875

Léon-Gustave-Joseph Karren (1854–1920), February 1875–1876

Georges Verschneider (1854–1895), 1873: 2A/1874, 1A/1875, remained until 1879

Marie Renaud [Madame Maury] (1852–1928), January 1874: 2A/1875, 1A/1876, remained until June 1877

Louise Genty (born in 1850), January 1875: 2A/1876

Camille Benoît, 1875–1876

Marie-Anne Papot (1855–1896), January 1876: 2A/1876, 1A/1878, 2P/1879, remained until December 1880

Clément Jules Broutin (1851–1900), October 1877–June 1878

Georges Hüe (1858–1948), December 1878–June 1879

Henri Dallier (1849–1934), November 1876: 1P/1878

Georges Marty (born in 1860), December 1878–June 1879

Auguste Chapuis (1858–1933), December 1878: 1A/1879, 2A/1880, 1P/1881

Jean Louis Lapuchin (1850–1895?), December 1878–January 1879

Théophile Sourilas (1850–1907), January 1880: 1A/1880, remained until July 1881

Gabriel Pierné (1863–1937), December 1880: 2P/1881, 1P/1882

Louis Ganne (1862–1923), December 1880: 1A/1882

Paul Jeannin (1858–1887), auditor/1880, December 1881: 1A/1882

Lucien Grandjany (1862–1891), December 1881: 2P/1882, 1P/1883

Henri Charles Kaiser (1861–1920?), December 1881: 2A/1882, 2P/1883, 1P/1884

Frédéric Duplessis (born in 1858), December 1881

Marcel Rouher (1857–1940), November 1882–1885

Léonie Guintrange [Madame E. Rouher] (1858–1900), December 1883–January 1885

Louis Landry (born in 1867), November 1882: 1A/1884, remained until June 1886

Carlos Mesquita (born in 1864), December 1883: 2A/1884, 1A/1885, remained until January 1886

François Pinot (1865–1891), November 1884: 1P/1885

Aimé Féry (born in 1862), December 1885–June 1887

Émile Fournier (1864–1897), October 4, 1885–June 1886

Louis Frémaux (born in 1867), December 1885

Dynam-Victor Fumet (1867–1949), December 1885

Georges Aubry (1868–1939), December 1885: 2A/1888, remained until July 1889

Henri Letocart (1866–1945), December 1885: 2A/1887, remained until June 1890

Alfred Georges Bachelet (1864–1944), December 1885–1887–1888

Louis d’Arnal de Serres (1864–1942), October 1885–1888

Albert Pillard (1867–1943), December 1886–June 1888

Édouard Bopp (born in 1866, Switzerland), December 1887–January 1888

Jean-Joseph Jemain (1864–1954), January 1885: 2A/1886, 1A/1887

Adolphe Marty (1865–1942), December 1886: 1P/1886

Hedwige Chrétien [Madame P. Gennaro] (1859–1944), December 1886–January 1887

Georges Bondon (1867–after 1900), December 1885: 2P/1887, 1P/1889

Cesar[ino] Galeotti (Italy 1872–Paris 1929), December 1885: 1P/1887

Joséphine Boulay (1869–1925), December 1887: 1P/1888

Marie Prestat (1862–1933), December 1887: 2A/1888, 1A/1889, 1P/1890

Jean-Ferdinand Schneider (1864–1934), December 1887–June 1889

Bruno Maurel (1867–after 1900), December 1887–January 1889

Albert Mahaut (1867–1943), December 1888: 1P/1889

Students who began with Franck and continued with Widor:

Achille Runner (1870–1938?), December 1888: 2P/1893, remained until June 1895

Paul Ternisien (born in 1870), December 1888–June 1892

Georges Guiraud (1868–1928), December 1889–June 1891

André-Paul Burgat (1865–1900), December 1889–June 1891

Jules Bouval (1867–1914), December 1889: 2A/1891, remained until June 1894

Henri Büsser (1872–1974), December 1889–January 1893

Henri Libert (1869–1937), December 1889: 2A/1892, 1P/1894

Charles Tournemire (1870–1939), December 1889: 1A/1889, 1P/1891

[Louis Vierne (1870–1937), auditor 1889, enrolled on October 4, 1890, or January 16, 1891: 2A/1891, 2P/1892, 1P/1894]36

In 1872 the six students enrolled in his class had studied with François Benoist. For the next thirteen years his class fluctuated from two to eight students. Just six years after he began to teach organ, he applied to teach composition instead of organ and had hoped to succeed François Bazin, who died on July 2, 1878. However, Jules Massenet was appointed as Bazin’s successor and Franck continued to teach organ. Franck was naturalized as a French citizen on March 10, 1873, yet his teaching would cross the fraternal bridge linking French and German music.37 In the autumn of 1885, his class had grown from four to twelve students and leveled off to about ten pupils per year. Franck’s initial salary of 1,500 francs rose to 2,400 francs.38 This increase was partially due to his successful organ recital39 on October 1, 1878, at the monumental 5,000-seat Trocadéro festival hall during the World’s Fair, which had reaffirmed his reputation as “an artist at the forefront of organ teachers in France.”40 Foreign organists entered his class: Carlos Mesquita of Brazil, Édouard Bopp of Switzerland, and Cesarino Galeotti of Italy, his favorite and youngest student, who won his first prize in organ at the age of sixteen.

Seven of Franck’s students—Paul Wachs, François Pinot, Émile Fournier, Georges Guiraud, Henri Letocart, and Henri Büsser—previously received a complete musical training in the Niedermeyer School of Classical and Religious Music, a boarding school located at 10, rue Neuve-Fontaine-Saint-Georges (today rue Fromentin). Founded in 1853 it thoroughly trained church musicians, offering courses in solfège, piano, organ, plainchant, harmony, counterpoint, fugue, accompaniment, music history, and vocal ensemble. These students had acquired the eight volumes of the Peters Edition of J. S. Bach’s organ works and played them daily,41 as well as great classical works by Palestrina, Handel, Mendelssohn, Saint-Saëns, etc.42 When Clément Loret, a former Lemmens student in Brussels, began to teach there in 1858, his Cours d’orgue had appeared in the school’s journal, La Maîtrise. It included exercises in manual substitutions and glissandi as well as the use of both toes and heels in order to play legato. According to Lemmens, “a good method for pedaling was as necessary as good fingering to properly play the organ.”43 Loret’s method explained how an organ functioned and taught students to transpose, accompany plainchants, and improvise.

Students could practice on small Cavaillé-Coll organs, fifteen pianos, and even a piano with a pedalboard, as well as in Cavaillé-Coll’s workshops, where they occasionally gave concerts.44 At the end of the 1880s, Loret’s student Aloÿs Kunc taught students in Toulouse who then entered Franck’s class—Dynam-Victor Fumet, Henri Büsser, Georges Guiraud, and Jules Bouval. In 1889 when Büsser went to meet Franck at Sainte-Clotilde Church to show him his recent exams in harmony, fugue, and composition at the Niedermeyer School, Franck told him,

Young man, you seem to be very talented, come tomorrow morning to my class at the Paris Conservatory and, without doubt, I will make something of you.45

The next day, Büsser played a Mendelssohn sonata, a Bach fugue, and then improvised on a free theme that Franck had given him. Franck then told him, “I think that you may enter my class as a student, after the examination in January.”46

Four of Franck’s students—Adolphe Marty, Albert Mahaut, Joséphine Boulay, and Louis Vierne—had studied at the National Institute for Blind Youth47 with Louis-Bon Lebel (1831–1888), who used Lemmens’ École d’Orgue to teach pedal technique. Around 1875 Franck became the inspector of musical studies there and the president of the final exams at the end of each year.48 Students worked rigorously and practiced four or five hours each day on their two Cavaillé-Coll studio organs, one in the boys’ quarters and the other in the girls’ quarters. In 1883 Cavaillé-Coll built a three-manual, thirty-six-stop organ for their chapel, decorated by the painter Henri Lehmann, a friend of Franz Liszt. The chapel also served as a concert hall when movable panels enlarged the room. For this organ’s inauguration on March 17, 1883, Franck had composed his Psalm CL for choir, organ, and orchestra, for which Louis Vierne played timpani.

Some of Franck’s students came from musical families. Paul Wachs’s father was a composer and choirmaster at Saint-Merri. Georges Deslandres’s father Laurent and his brother Adolphe were musicians at the Sainte-Marie-des-Batignolles Church; his brother Jules-Laurent was a bass player, and his sister Clémence was a singer. Samuel Rousseau’s father was a harmonium manufacturer in Paris. Georges Verschneider came from a family of three generations of organ builders active from 1760 until 1900 in Moselle. Hedwige Chrétien was the granddaughter of the violinist J. Ternisien. Jean Tolbecque came from a family of French-Belgian musicians. His father Auguste was a cellist and composer who taught at the Marseille Conservatory from 1865 until 1871; a friend of Camille Saint-Saëns and Ambroise Thomas, he had acquired an organ for his early instrument collection installed in the Fort-Foucault in Niort in 1875.49 Henri Letocart’s father Joseph was a music professor.

Among Franck’s sixty-three enrolled students, seventeen were awarded first prizes; two received second prizes; ten, first accessits; four, second accessits, and twenty-nine received no awards. Those who received no award had not studied harmony or counterpoint and could not improvise (Léon Karren, Clément Broutin, Jean Lapuchin, Émile Fournier, Amédée Dutacq, Georges Deslandres, Louis Landry, and Henri Letocart). These students could escape to a small room situated underneath the organ to help Jean Lescot, the conservatory’s janitor, pump the organ’s wind bellows.50 Some became ill (Albert Pillard, Jean-Ferdinand Schneider, Georges Aubry, Georges Verscheider, Louis de Serres, and Léonie Guintrange). Others were talented, conscientious, and had studied accompaniment or composition, but were too busy to practice (Alfred Bachelet, Francis Thomé, Aimé Féry, Louis Frémaux, Paul Ternisien, Louis Ganne, and Paul Jeannin). Some students specialized in other instruments, such as the pianist Bazille Benoît and the cellist Jean Tolbecque. Joseph Humblot was his only organ student who improvised very well but he had difficulty performing. Other excellent students with high-level musical intelligence worked hard, interpreted well, but had difficulty improvising, such as Louise Genty, Marie Renaud, Théophile Sourilas, Georges Verschneider, and Vincent d’Indy. Both Vincent d’Indy and Marie Renaud had received only a first accessit. D’Indy was very bitter about this and spoke rather unkindly about his fellow students in his Journal.51 He left Franck’s organ class but continued to study composition privately with him. Marie Renaud, one of Franck’s ten female students, was the first woman to win a first prize in counterpoint and fugue (1876) at the conservatory. Unfortunately, she could not compete for the Grand Prix de Rome because it was forbidden for women to do so until 1903. She was also the first woman to be a member of the Société nationale de musique.

Those who had successfully won a first prize in organ had also studied harmony, counterpoint, fugue, and composition in order to become complete musicians. All of Franck’s students who had studied at the National Institute for Blind Youth had won a first prize in organ: Adolphe Marty, Albert Mahaut, and Joséphine Boulay quickly received it due to their excellent training. In 1888 Boulay was Franck’s first female student to win a first prize in Franck’s organ class. Marie Prestat was the first woman to obtain five first prizes at the conservatory (in harmony, accompaniment, composition, fugue and counterpoint, and organ). Henri Dallier also earned his first prize very quickly, because he had studied at the Reims cathedral choir school and had been choir organist there.

To prepare his students for their exams, Franck taught them to accompany plainchants given in whole notes with very free developments in four-part florid counterpoint, with the cantus firmus placed in the bass and three voices above it.52 The suppleness of the chants, such as Stabat Mater, Dies irae, or Jesu Redemptor, gave birth to beautiful improvisations and compositions in all forms. Franck desired that the embellishments of these admirable melodies be musically expressive, in order to bring them to life.53 When the organ room was occupied by exams, he taught the accompaniment of plainchant on a piano in another room.

With indulgence, patience, severity, and austerity, Franck taught improvisation five out of the six hours of his organ class each week,54 according to the conservatory’s imposed strict regulations. To improvise a four-voice fugue d’école, students had to listen carefully to Franck’s severe advice in order to strictly follow a set architectural plan and construct fugues solidly and harmoniously with an absolute pureness of style. After exposing the theme in four voices, they chose a countersubject with entries in the outer voices and developed a stretto toward the end. The free improvisations used a one-theme exposition, which after a bridge subtly introduced a new element during the transition to the dominant, which could later serve during the development, before the recapitulation in the tonic.

As in François Benoist’s class, the themes provided during Franck’s class were sometimes taken from Haydn’s and Mozart’s symphonies, but during their exams students improvised on popular tunes from operettas. However, from January 1879 to June 1887, fugue subjects and modern themes were composed specially for the exams55 by Auguste Bazille, Jules Cohen, Léo Delibes, Théodore Dubois, Henri Fissot, Alexandre Guilmant, and Ambroise Thomas.56

Franck encouraged his students to improvise with “melodic invention, harmonic discoveries, subtle modulations, and elegant figurations:57

He did not stop the student who was developing a Gregorian theme or another free or imposed one, a fugue, a sonata movement with florid counterpoint, but gave several interjections, launched with a vibrant loud bursting voice, sometimes with a tremendous crescendo to impose the order of a development, a tonality, a modulation, to prevent the apprentice organist from getting lost in the contrapuntal plan, to proclaim criticism or praise: “Modulate! . . . Some flats!!! Some sharps!!! E in the bass, in the tonal key. . . . Something else! I don’t love that! I love that!”58

According to Maurice Emmanuel, he gave his students practical principles with severity and sweetness and encouraged them to listen to the beautiful Cavaillé-Coll organ at Sainte-Clotilde:

One should see one of Franck’s lessons in this small half-obscured theater, where the master’s beautiful voice resonated like a deep bell, at one moment detailing the exercise underway, and at another moment expressing, with general ideas, the preference of the musician. Severe when supervising the construction of a fugue, he wanted this rhetoric to be as worthwhile as possible. “First search for a beautiful countersubject,” he said. . . . And the student, invited to discover one on his own, was not always able to invent one. Then Franck took his place on the oak bench and demonstrated one in grand style—“And here’s a second one! And a third one! . . . And yet another one!” The students were confounded. . . . The same tactic for the “divertissements.” Those which the young beginning “fugue improvisers” came up with were not always to his liking: therefore, his hands ran to the keyboards, substituting an example for the precept. This pedagogical method was perhaps insufficient for many students, who had only applied, desired, or were waiting for precise recipes. This eloquent persuasive model was addressed to the worthy disciple who could understand it and who was capable of becoming inspired by it.

It is especially while exercising free improvisation that Franck applied this method. It was as good as any other. He created in front of his students a “verse” or a more developed piece in order to enable them to succeed in the double exam on the day of competition. He gave his students practical precepts and was very strict concerning the choice and order of modulations. He had magistral ideas concerning them. But all things considered, “Listen to me,” he cried; or even, unsatisfied with the resources that the small old organ in the class offered him, he said to his students: “Come to Sainte-Clotilde on Sunday. I will demonstrate this to you.”59

Gabriel Pierné, Louis de Serres, and Louis Vierne observed that “no form of teaching could be livelier: his playing was magnificent, seductive, leading the student to his utmost potential. . . .” [nulle forme d’enseignement ne pouvait être plus vivante: c’était un jeu magnifique, séduisant, entraînant à l’extrême. . . .].60 Franck did not need to resort to words to express his thoughts, which he could more fully express by music.61 Therefore, he played various solutions to show them how to develop a good fugue.62 According to Augusta Holmès, who studied composition with him beginning in 1875, “He never substituted his own manner of thinking for that of his students. After having opened the way, he let them entirely follow their own initiative.”63 Maurice Emmanuel emphasized, “As necessary as it may be, the form is not sufficient. It only constitutes a framework. And the most beautiful technique in the world can remain a dead letter if it is not used to serve an idea.”64

Franck’s three primary maxims were:

Don’t try to do a great deal, but rather seek to do well no matter if only a little can be produced. Bring me the results of many trials that you can honestly say represent the very best you can do. Don’t think that you will learn from my corrections of faults of which you are aware unless you have strained every effort yourself to amend them.65

Louis de Serres, whose expressive delicateness Franck particularly appreciated, confirmed that, “No one better than he knew how to make his students understand a strictly severe organ style . . . at the same time deeply felt and expressive.”66

Franck did not use a particular method or follow any strict rules, but orally gave each student personal advice. According to Albert Mahaut, “He spoke little, in small phrases, but we sensed the deepness of his soul, his greatness, his energy, at the same his penetrating sweetness.”67 His innate, perceptive intuition enabled him to understand each student’s personality, temperament, capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Whatever their level, Franck deeply loved teaching and instilled in each student his impassioned ardor and love of musical beauty. As Charles Tournemire expressed, “Never did one leave this seraphic musician demoralized; but certain observations, said in a few words, generally gently and penetrating, striking and exact, enlightened the soul and warmed the heart.”68 “César Franck had a great influence on my artistic philosophy. I owe him the calm and the courage that strengthens artists. . . . If he lived for transcendent art, he knew how to help those who came to him.”69

Extremely generous, Franck did not accept any payment from talented students who needed money more than himself, such as Henri Büsser, whom Franck asked to substitute for him at Sainte-Clotilde.70 His class was like a family reunion. Léonie Guintrange met her husband, Marcel Rouher, there. His lack of pride and his joy of accomplishing his everyday tasks with “constant optimism emanated from his perfect kindness, his incapacity to experience any resentment or jealousy; his ongoing cheerful nature”71 was a consolation and encouragement to all his students, who deeply respected him.

According to Joël-Marie Fauquet and Rollin Smith, the following musicians were auditors in his organ class:72

Ca. 1870 (?): Camille Rage

Ca. 1872: Maurice Cohen-Lânariou (from Romania)

Ca. 1875: Georges Bizet73 (1839–1875), Henri Kunkelmann (1855–1922), Albert Renaud (1855–1924)

1876: Julien Tiersot (1857–1936)

1879: Ernest Chausson (1855–1899)

1880: Paul Vidal (1863-1931)

1880–1881: Herman Bemberg (1859–1931, from France and Argentina), [first name?] Bessand, Claude Debussy (1862–1918), Fernand Leborne (1862–1929), Jules-Gaston Melodia

1880–1885: John Hinton74 (1849–1922, from England) [organ], Paul Dukas (1865–1935)

1888: Anne-Berthe Merklin (Mme. Lambert des Cilleuls, daughter of Joseph Merklin) (1866–1918) [piano and organ], Raymond Huntington Woodman (1861–1943, his only student from the United States, a private organ student for three months)

1889: Mlle. De Mailli [harmonium and organ], Louis Vierne

It is likely that some of his other private organ students attended his organ class, such as Charles-Auguste Collin75 (1865–1938) and Saint-René Taillandier (who died in 1931). Many of his composition and piano students during these years could have attended his courses:

1872: Alexis de Castillon (1838–1873), Albert Cahen d’Anvers (1846–1903)

1872–1875: Henri Duparc (1848–1933), one of his most talented students [ca. 1863–ca. 1875], Urban Le Verrier (1811–1877)

1873: Arthur Coquard (1846–1910), Mlle. de Jouvencel [piano]

Ca. 1875: Edmond Diet (1854–1924), Marguerite Habert [piano], Augusta Holmès (1847–1903), Henri Kunkelmann (1855–1922), Charles Langrand (1852–1942) [piano and composition?]

1876: Mel-Bonis, Mélanie Bonis (Mme. Albert Domanche) (1858–1937) [piano]

1878: Mme Charles Poisson [piano]

Ca. 1880: Raymond Bonheur (1861–1939), Paul Braud [piano], Laure Fleury [piano, year uncertain], Joséphine Haincelin [piano], Marguérite Hamman [piano], Léon Husson, Mlle Javal [piano], Henry Lerolle (1848–1929), ? Fernand Fouant de La Tombelle (1854–1928), Léo Luguet (1864–1935), H. Kervel [organ and piano?], Georges Rosenlecker, Gustave Sandré (1843–1916) [composition, piano, and organ?, year uncertain], Alice Sauvrezis (1866–1946) [piano, year uncertain], Gaston de Vallin [piano?], Paul de Wailly (1856–1933)

1881–1887: Pierre de Bréville (1861–1949)

Ca. 1885: Charles Bordes (1863–1909), Cécile Boutet de Monvel (1864–1940) [piano], Paul Carré de Malberg [composition?], Paul Dukas (1865–1935), Henri Expert (1863–1952), Marie Fabre, Mme Soullière [piano and composition], Henry Huvey (died 1944) [organ], Sylvio Lazzari (1857–1944) [born in Austria], Mme Édouard Lefébure [piano], Charles Pierné [harmonium], Henri Quittard (1864–1919), Guy Ropartz (1864–1955), Georges Saint-René Taillandier (1852–1942) [year uncertain], Théophile Ysaye (1865–1918) [piano, brother of Eugène]

1887: Stéphane Gaurion [a private organ student?]

1887–1890: Erik Åkerberg (1860–1938) [Swedish], Jules Écorcheville (1872–1915)

1888: Mlle Olympe Rollet [piano]

1889: Charlotte Danner [piano], Mme Saint-Louis de Gonzague [piano], the Argentinian Alberto Williams (1862–1952)76

Ca. 1889–1890: Guillaume Lekeu (1870–1894)

Ca. 1890: Clotilde Bréal (1870–1947) [one of Franck’s favorite piano and organ students, to whom he dedicated his Choral in E Major, in the copy that belonged to her second husband, Alfred Cortot], Frank [Franz] Godebski (1866–1948).

Franck understood each student’s capacities and needs, which often led to liberal conclusions that were quite different from the formalism of other professors at the Paris Conservatory. In 1880 and 1881, when Claude Debussy attended his class as an auditor for six months to obtain his advice in composition, Franck had confided to him, “The fifths, there are some nice ones. . . . At the Conservatory one does not allow that. . . . But I myself, I love it well!”77

As Erik Kocevar indicated, Gustave Derepas understood Franck’s teaching when he confirmed that instead of imposing his own musical ideas on his students, he let each follow their own paths:

Radically setting aside a personal and intolerant biased opinion, the master penetrated with a rare sagacity his students’ thoughts. . . . How remarkable! Musicians trained in his school of thought all possessed a solid science that can be qualified as profound; but each maintained his own personality. The master was so respectful of the inspiration of others!78

To thank him, Franck’s students wholeheartedly supported him. They deeply respected their master, referred to him as a Pater Seraphicus, and developed a doctrine known as “Franckism.”79 Many of them contributed to the fact he received the Légion d’honneur on August 6, 1885, during the distribution of prizes at the conservatory, in gratitude for his fifteen years of service there.80 In spite of his Germanic origins, many of them revered him as a true renewer of French music, labelled as ars gallica, according to the motto of the Société nationale, which Franck presided over in 1886. Just to give one example, in 1879 Camille Benoît encouraged him by publishing several articles on his works in the Gazette musicale and the Guide musical. His students organized and paid for a Festival Franck, which was given at the Cirque d’Hiver on January 30, 1888.

Franck was not responsible for his students’ complaints to Ambroise Thomas that he had not been appointed as a composition professor at the Paris Conservatory. Unfortunately, this created considerable hostility.81 Also, Vincent d’Indy had interpreted Franck’s noble character as a sort of religious absolutism that “obeyed the three theological virtues known as Faith, Hope, and Charity,”82 to which Franck’s son Georges was totally opposed. According to Maurice Emmanuel, “Franck was never pious, and he was not a practicing Christian.”83 One of his favorite books, which had inspired his Beatitudes,84 was The Life of Jesus (published in 1863)85 by Ernest Renan, a close friend of Pauline Viardot. César Franck had meditated and was “guided”86 by Christ’s Beatitudes since 1845; he had completely set them to music thirty years later. However, although art goes hand in hand with religion, due to its essentially noble character, Franck’s teaching was not religious in nature, but it was deeply spiritual. He simply desired to mold his students’ capacities to express themselves musically, with noble grace, in order to enable them to become genuine artists.

To be continued.


1. Léon Vallas, La véritable histoire de César Franck, 1822-1890 (Paris, Flammarion, 1955), page 10, and Joël-Marie Fauquet, César Franck (Paris, Arthème Fayard, 1999), page 42.

2. Fauquet, page 54.

3. Vallas, page 19.

4. Fauquet, page 120.

5. Fauquet, page 464. This college was located on the rue de Vaugirard. According to Rollin Smith, Playing the Organ Works of César Franck (Stuyvesant, New York: Pendragon Press, 1997), page 25, in 1860, Hippolyte Loret built an organ for their chapel. Franck taught beside another Belgian, Father Louis Lambillotte, who participated in the movement to restore Gregorian chant. In 1856, Adrien Le Clère published César Franck’s Organ Accompaniments of Gregorian Chant, restored by Father Lambillotte.

6. M. Louseau, “Souvenirs de Collège,” Le Gaulois, November 23, 1903, published in Franck Besingrand, César Franck, Entre raison et passion (Brussels, Peter Lang, 2002), pages 165, 167. Carolyn Shuster Fournier translated the original French citations in this article.

7. Cécile and Emmanuel Cavaillé-Coll, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll (Paris, Fischbacher, 1929), page 92.

8. This chapel was located at 12, rue de Clichy. Lefébure-Wély and Pierre Érard were witnesses at this ceremony. In addition to the other addresses mentioned in this article, Franck also lived at 6, rue de Trévise beginning in the spring of 1841 and at 43, rue Lafitte in the autumn of 1842. In 1865, his family moved to 95, boulevard Saint-Michel.

9. Composed in 1846, it was originally intended for his future fiancée, Félicité Desmousseaux. Fauquet, page 54.

10. Félix Raugel, “La Musique religieuse française de l’époque révolutionnaire à la mort de César Franck,” La Revue Musicale, No. 222, 1953–1954, page 119.

11. Henri Maréchal, Souvenirs d’un musicien (Paris, Hachette, 1907), page 171.

12. Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, “Description de l’orgue actuel du Conservatoire impérial de musique,” March 12, 1864, A. N. [Archives Nationales de France], F21 1037.

13. Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, “Letter to Eugène Gautier,” January 29, 1858, published in Fenner Douglass, Cavaillé-Coll and the Musicians (Raleigh, North Carolina, Sunbury Press, 1980), vol. II, page 997.

14. Vallas, page 142.

15. Smith, page 16.

16. M. Louseau/Besingrand, page 165.

17. See A. Cavaillé-Coll, Traité propose à Monsieur le Ministre des Cultes de l’Instruction publique, des Cultes et des beaux arts, November 5, 1870, A.N. AJ37 82, 4, and Jesse Eschbach, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, A Compendium of Known Stoplists, vol. I (Paderborn: Verlag Peter Ewers, 2003), pages 726–727.

18. Charles Gounod, “Autograph letter to Monsieur le Curé,” London, March 13, 1871, private collection; published in Shuster Fournier, Un siècle de vie musicale à l’église de la Sainte-Trinité à Paris (Paris, L’Harmattan, 2014), page 42.

19. Fauquet, page 406.

20. Fauquet, page 466.

21. Fauquet, pages 471 and 834.

22. See Jules Simon, “Arrêté pour le Secrétaire Général du département de l’Instruction publique des Cultes et des Beaux Arts,” Janvier 31, 1872, A. N., AJ37, 69, 2, n° 7, and Charles Blanc, “Le Directeur des Beaux-Arts, Membre de l’Institut, Lettre au Monsieur le Directeur [du Conservatoire National de Musique & de Déclamation],” Février 17, 1872, A. N., AJ37, 69, 2, n° 4.

23. Albert Dupaigne, Le Grand Orgue de la nouvelle salle de concert de Sheffield (Paris, Plon et Cie., 1873), page 48.

24. Jules Lissajous, “Rapport sur l’orgue établi par Mr. Aristide Cavaillé-Coll dans la grande salle du Conservatoire de Musique de Paris,” A. N., AJ37 82, 4d.

25. A. Cavaillé-Coll, “Mémoire général des travaux du grand orgue de la salle des Concerts du Conservatoire de Musique de Paris,” January 12, 1872, A. N., AJ37 82, 4d, stoplist also published in Eschbach, page 338. According to Gilbert Huybens, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, Opus List, page 22, this organ was delivered on January 29, 1872.

26. A. Cavaillé-Coll, “Letter to Monsieur Ambroise Thomas, Director of the Paris Conservatory,” December 5, 1871, A. N., AJ37 82, 4.

27. A. Cavaillé-Coll, “Mémoire general des travaux de reconstruction et de perfectionnement effectués à l’orgue d’Étude du Conservatoire de Musique à Paris,” October 24, 1872, A. N., AJ37 82, 4d, included in Carolyn Shuster’s doctoral thesis, “Les Orgues Cavaillé-Coll au salon, au théâtre et au Concert,” delivered in 1991 at the François-Rabelais University in Tours.

28. Louis Vierne, “Mes Souvenirs,” In Memoriam Louis Vierne (Paris, Les Amis de l’Orgue, 1939), page 21.

29. Jules Lissajous, “Rapport sur l’orgue d’étude du conservatoire national de musique, reconstruit et perfectionné par Mr. A. Cavaillé-Coll,” October 25, 1872, A. N., AJ37 82, 4d. The stops on the Grand Orgue keyboard, Eschbach, page 349, indicate that the 8′ Flûte and 4′ Prestant have 30 notes without specifying that they are the upper 30 notes; Rollin Smith, page 31, and Orpha Ochse cite Louis Vierne, who mentioned, in Mes Souvenirs, an 8′ Dessus de Montre without indicating the Dessus of Flûte Harmonique and Prestant stops.

30. Alexandre Cellier, L’Orgue Moderne (Paris, Delagrave, 1927), page 106.

31. Vallas, page 316.

32. Albert Mahaut, “Souvenirs personnels sur César Franck,” Musique et musiciens (Paris, l’Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles, 1923), page 586.

33. Louis Vierne, in his Journal II (Cahiers et Mémoires de L’Orgue, No. 135 bis, 1970), page 162, mentions that his courses took place on Mondays and Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. and on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m., but in Mes Souvenirs II (Cahiers et Mémoires de L’Orgue, No. 134 bis, III, 1970, page 22), he indicates that they took place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

34. A. N., AJ37 251.

35. Prepared with: A. N., AJ37 283; Fauquet, pages 960–964.

36. Vierne, in Mes Souvenirs, page 24, mentions that he was admitted as an organ student at the Paris Conservatory on October 4, 1890. According to Widor’s report, January 24, 1891, A. N., AJ37 292, 54, he enrolled on January 16, 1891.

37. See Fauquet, pages 408 and 471.

38. Vallas, page 174.

39. See Eugène Gigout, “Concerts et Soirées,” Le Ménestrel (XLIV), N° 45, October 6, 1878, page 363.

40. See Smith, page 37, who quotes “Nouvelles diverses,” Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris, November 10, 1878, page 367.

41. Henri Letocart, “Quelques Souvenirs,” L’Orgue, No. 36, December 1938, pages 2–7; 37, March 1939, pages 4–6.

42. Orpha Ochse, Organists and Organ Playing in Nineteenth-Century France and Belgium (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1994), page 209, quoting Gabriel Fauré, “Souvenirs,” La Revue musicale, No. 3, October 1922, pages 3–9.

43. Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens, École d’Orgue basée sur le Plain-Chant Romain (B. Schott’s Söhne, 1862), page 2.

44. Marie-Louise Boëllmann-Gigout, “L’École Niedermeyer,” in Histoire de la musique 2, under the direction of Roland-Manuel, Encyclopédie de la Pléiade (Paris, Gallimard, 1963), page 854.

45. Henri Büsser, “La classe d’orgue de César Franck en 1889–1990,” L’Orgue, No. 102, 1962, page 33.

46. Ibid.

47. It was founded by Valentin Haüy in 1794 and was located on the boulevard des Invalides. Louis Briaille (1809–1852), organist and professor at this institute, had developed the musical writing for the blind in 1829. Its organ class had been founded in 1826.

48. Had Franck recalled that forty years previously his first music teacher, Dieudonné Duguet, had become blind in 1835, the year Franck had left the Liège Conservatory?

49. Alban Framboisier, “The compositions of Auguste Tolbecque (1830–1919),” text of the CD jacket in Homage to Auguste Tolbecque (Netherlands, Passacaille, 2019), pages 19–22.

50. See Fauquet, page 475.

51. Vincent d’Indy, Ma Vie (Paris, Séguier, 2001).

52. Odile Jutten, “L’Évolution de l’enseignement de l’improvisation à l’orgue au Conservatoire,” in Anne Bongrain and Alain Poirier, eds., Le Conservatoire de Paris: Deux cents ans de pédagogie, 1795–1995 (Paris: Buchet/Chastel, 1999), page 83.

53. Vallas, pages 327–328.

54. Vierne, Mes Souvenirs, page 23.

55. Jutten, page 85.

56. Théodore Dubois, themes used during organ exams at the Paris Conservatory from January 1879 to June 1887, A. N., AJ37 237, 3.

57. Smith, page 41.

58. Vallas, page 319.

59. Maurice Emmanuel, César Franck (Paris, Henri Laurens, 1930), pages 106–108.

60. Vallas, page 319.

61. Emmanuel, page 106.

62. Vierne, Mes Souvenirs, page 45.

63. J. Bernac, “Interview with Mlle. Augusta Holmès,” The Strand Musical Magazine, 1897, Vol. 5, page 136, quoted in Florence Launay, Les Compositrices en France au XIXe siècle (Paris, Arthème Fayard, 2006), page 56.

64. Emmanuel, page 113.

65. John W. Hinton, César Franck: Some Personal Reminiscences (London, William Reeves, n.d.), page 43, quoted in Smith, page 43.
66. Louis de Serres, “Quelques souvenirs sur le père Franck, mon maître,” L’Art musical, November 29, 1935, page 68, quoted in J.-M. Fauquet, page 477.

67. Vallas, page 329.

68. Tournemire, page 70.

69. L’Orgue, Nos. 321–324, 2018—I–IV, LXX and 8.

70. Büsser, page 34.

71. Emmanuel, pages 15–16.

72. Fauquet, pages 960–964, and Rollin Smith, “César Franck’s Metronome Marks: from Paris to Brooklin,” The American Organist, September 2003, page 58.

73. This laureate of a first prize in organ in 1875 came to listen to Franck’s class and distributed tickets to his students who were lucky enough to attend the premiere of Carmen on March 3 at the Opéra-Comique.

74. According to Ochse, page 159, John Hinton studied privately with Franck in 1865 and 1867 and was an auditor in his organ class in 1873.
75. See Charles Augustin Collin, “César Franck et la musique bretonne,” Le Nouvelliste de Bretagne, August 1912.

76. The author thanks Vera Wolkowicz who kindly communicated this to her.

77. Vallas, page 322.

78. Gustave Derepas, César Franck/Étude sur sa vie, son enseignement, son œuvre (Paris, Fischbacher, 1897), page 27; quoted in Erik Kocevar, “Ses élèves et son enseignement,” in César Franck (1822–1890), Revue Européenne d’Études Musicales, No. 1, 1991, Paris, Éditions Le Léopard d’Or, pages 41–42.

79. Vallas, page 341.

80. Vallas, page 234.

81. Vallas, page 323.

82. Fauquet, page 22.

83. Emmanuel, page 12.

84. Vallas, page 306. In Louis Vierne’s “Choral,” number 16 of his 24 Pièces en style libre, opus 31, the second half of the choral theme is very similar to the theme of the baritone solo (the voice of Christ) in Franck’s third Beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn.”

85. Fauquet, page 315.

86. Emmanuel, page 12.

Editor’s note: an earlier version of this article, “César Francks orgelklas aan het Parijse conservatorium, zijn gepassioneerde zoektocht naar artistieke schoonheid,” appeared in Orgelkunst, issue 179, pages 168–191, 2022.

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