Lefebure-Wely, Louis James Alfred


Organist and composer; born in Paris, whose father before him had been an organist and composer. Being very precocious, he knew his notes before his alphabet. When only eight years old he accompanied his father at the organ in playing short pieces. At his father's death he was only  fifteen years old, but was appointed to succeed him at St. Roch, upon the recommendation of Queen Marie Amelie. In 1832 he entered the Conservatory, two years later taking the second prizes for piano and organ, and the following year taking the first prizes for both. In the Conservatory he studied counterpoint under Halevy and composition under Berton, while he studied privately under Adolphe Adam and with Sejan, the organist. The last-named taught him the art of improvising and the management of the stops. After his marriage he began teaching to support his family, and composed a number of pianopieces, some of which became very popular. An indefatigable worker, he composed all kinds of music chamber-music; symphonies for full orchestra; masses; a comic opera in three acts. His best works are his organ pieces, his Cantiques and his Offertoires. He was organist of the Madeleine from 1847 to 1858, and from 1863 until his death organist at St. Sulpice. In 1850 he was decorated with the cross of the Legion of Honor. He died in Paris. It is as organist that he will be remembered. His improvisations were wonderful, and his work was full of charm and piquancy.