Franck, César Auguste

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Franck, César Auguste

Franck, César Auguste (sāzärˈ ōgüstˈ fräNk), 1822–90, Belgian-French composer and organist. He studied at the conservatories of Liège and Paris, taking prizes in piano, composition, and organ. In 1858 he became organist of Ste Clotilde, Paris, where he demonstrated great skill in the art of improvisation. From 1872 until his death, he was professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory, where he exercised a strong influence on an entire generation of composers. His music is highly distinctive, rooted in the polyphonic and chromatic techniques of Bach. Among his most significant works are the Symphony in D minor (1886–88); Variations symphoniques (1885) for piano and orchestra; and Trois Chorals (1890) for organ.


See biography by L. Davies (1970, repr. 1977).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Franck, César Auguste


Born Dec. 10, 1822, in Liege; died Nov. 8, 1890, in Paris. French composer and organist.

Franck, who was of Belgian extraction, attended the Paris Conservatory, where he studied piano with P. J. Zimmermann, organ with F. Benoist, and composition with A. S. Leborne. From 1843 he made his living as an organist for various Parisian churches and by teaching. In 1872 he became an organ professor at the Paris Conservatory; his students included V. d’lndy, H. Duparc, E. Chausson, and C. Bordes. He was a founder of the Société Nationale de Musique (1871), and became its president in 1886.

The works of Franck, a representative of musical romanticism of the second half of the 19th century, embody French, Flemish, and Belgian musical traditions and show the influence of J. S. Bach, the classical Viennese composers, and romanticism. Many of Franck’s compositions attain a sublime, profound lyricism. His principal works were written for instrumental ensembles and combine classical form with romantic élan; they include the Symphony in D minor (1888), the symphonic poems Les Eolides (1876), Le Chasseur maudit (1882), and Psyché (1888; with chorus), the tone poem Les Djinns, the Variations symphoniques (for piano and orchestra; 1885), and chamber music and music for piano and organ. Franck made an important contribution to opera and choral music with such oratorios as Rédemption (symphonic poem; second version, 1874) and Les Béatitudes (1876–79) and the operas Hulda (1885; staged 1894) and Ghisèle (staged 1896; completed by V. d’lndy, E. Chausson, and others).


Rogozhina, N. Sezar Frank. Moscow, 1969.
d’lndy, V. César Franck. Paris, 1930.
Dufourcq, N. César Franck. Paris, 1949.
Gallois, J. Franck. Paris, 1966.
Mohr, W. C. Franck, 2nd ed. Tutzing, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.