Franck, Cesar Auguste

1822-1890

Eminent Belgian composer and organist, who has been spoken of as "the saint of French music." Cesar Franck was born at Liege, but though born in Belgium is reckoned among the composers of France, where he lived and worked so long. His first musical instruction was received at the Liege Conservatory, and he continued his studies at the Paris Conservatory, then under the direction of Cherubini. While there he won prizes in counterpoint and fugue in Leborne's class, and also studied piano, winning first prize for piano in 1838 and second prize for composition the next year. Zimmermann was his piano teacher and Benoist was his organ instructor. He succeeded the last named, in 1872, as professor of the organ class at the Conservatory and organist at the Church of Ste. Clotilde. For thirty-two years, from 1858 until his death in 1890, Franck was organist at this church, where his playing inspired all who heard him, yet so modest and retiring was he, that he remained personally very inconspicuous, and was practically ignored during his lifetime, living in the city, but not of it. He early became a teacher and held to that profession throughout his life. He had many famous pupils, some of whom are now the leaders of the younger French School. By his deeply religious life, his lofty purpose and high ideals, combined with a rare intellect, he turned the thoughts of the men whom he instructed into serious channels  His most famous pupils are Vincent D'Indy, the late Ernest Chausson, Emanuel Chabrier, Guy de Ropartz and Pierre de Breville. He also in- fluenced other musicians to a large degree, including Gabriel U. Faure, the present head of the Paris Conservatory, Paul Dukas, and Alexandre Guilmant, the celebrated organist. Franck's career was not a brilliant one, but he was an indefatigable worker, who at fifteen years of age had practically finished his studies and who from then on practically devoted his life to his art, caring for nothing outside of it, and living in a little world of his own. His life throughout was regular and tranquil. As a teacher he was painstaking, giving all his life, from eight to ten lessons a day. At six in the morning he began composing, which was to him a recreation, and after a light meal would go out to give lessons, working hard all day. He would then spend his evenings giving correspondence lessons to his pupils in the provinces and perhaps   playing some of his choral compositions for his evening students. After a short stay in Belgium Franck went to Paris, remaining there, until his death, as a teacher and organist. To throw light upon his music it is necessary to dwell upon his habits and character, because his life was full of religious fervor and emotion and the deep mysticism, which has caused him to be compared to his countryman, Maurice Maeterlinck, the poet and dramatist. By his pupils he was called " Pater Seraphicus," and " Pere Franck," and they all adored him. Says Vincent D'Indy, his pupil, writing of him: " The foundation of his character was   goodness, calm and serene goodness.