César Franck, Classical Music’s Late Bloomer

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Like so many of the great French composers of the 19th century, César Franck was a child prodigy who began his formal music education at the Paris Conservatory. But almost all of his significant works were composed after age 60. This week, host David Dubal focuses on one of classical music’s unappreciated late bloomers.

Ultimately, Franck made his living at the organ and was appointed organist of the prestigious Basilica of Saint Clotilde in Paris. Here, his gifts at improvisation shone, rivaling those of Camille Saint-Saëns, who was also an organist at a neighboring church. Franck devoted his life to teaching and at age 50 was selected as a professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory.

Program playlist (all by César Franck):

Chorale No. 3 in A Minor
Vladimir Viardo, piano
Pro Piano Records

Prelude, choral et fugue: 1. Prelude
Artur Rubinstein, piano
Philips

Prelude, Aria et Final: 3. Final
Alfred Cortot, piano
Dante Productions

Variations Symphoniques
Alfred Cortot, piano; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Sir Landon Ronald, conductor
Dante Productions

Prelude, Fugue and Variation, Op 18 in B Minor
Arr. Harold Bauer
Vladimir Viardo, piano
Pro Piano Records