Of German-Belgian descent, the composer, pianist, organist and teacher César-Auguste Jean-Guillaume Hubert Franck was born in Liège on 10 December 1822. He studied at the Liège Royal Conservatory and then moved to Paris, studying privately with Anton Reicha and Pierre Zimmerman, and then at the Paris Conservatoire.
Probably for family reasons, he left the Conservatoire early and returned to Belgium for nearly two years before returning to Paris, where he spent most of his working life, composing, performing and teaching at the Conservatoire.
Franck died in Paris on 8 November 1890, aged sixty-seven, following a cab accident earlier that year during which he hit his head, and his funeral was attended by many of the French musical establishment, including Emmanuel Chabrier, Léo Delibes, Gabriel Fauré, Édouard Lalo, Alexandre Guilmant, Camille Saint-Saëns and Charles-Marie Widor.
He had a significant influence on music, but is generally remembered for a few of his later compositions such as the Symphony in D minor, the symphonic poem Le Chasseur maudit and the Piano Quintet in F minor.
CD Spotlight. Secret Love Letters - Lisa Batiashvili plays Chausson, Debussy, Franck and Szymanowski, warmly recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Batiashvili plays this programme with ultra-sensitive feeling and moving emotional ardour that penetrate right to the heart of this sublime music which reveals the inscrutable depths of the human soul.'
CD Spotlight. A Commanding Technique - Gerald Fenech listens to Patrick Dheur playing piano music by César Franck. 'A fine and fitting tribute to one of the most original composers ever to come out of Belgium ...'
CD Spotlight. An Additional Significance and Poignancy - Gerald Fenech listens to César Franck orchestral music, recorded in Ukraine. 'Francisco Varela draws the very best from the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine, and performances are consistently fresh, alive and often compelling.'
CD Spotlight. Shattered Lives - Gerald Fenech recommends Fabrice Bollon's recording of César Franck's opera 'Hulda'. 'Sensational operatic discovery in an electrifying performance that sizzles with some superb singing and brilliant orchestral playing.'
CD Spotlight. Quietly Ambiguous - Stephen Francis Vasta feels vaguely let down by Mami Shikimori and the Wihan Quartet's performances of Fauré and Franck. '... wonderfully committed and incisive playing.'
Ensemble. Nicely Varied - Peter Siepmann plays Johann Sebastian Bach, Maurice Duruflé and César Franck on the Compton organ at Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Bursts of Light - Mike Wheeler listens to Simon Russell's offering for the Derby Cathedral Autumn Organ Recital Series
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CD Spotlight. Enticing Orchestration - Gerald Fenech listens to tone poems by César Franck performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conductor Jean-Luc Tingaud. 'This fine issue also includes three overtures ...'
CD Spotlight. Nothing Short of Heroic - Idil Biret plays César Franck, impressing Gerald Fenech. 'My impression is that Biret does not only interpret these works but she reincarnates them.'
A Subtle Approach - Mike Wheeler listens to organ music by Leighton, Franck, J S Bach and Henri Mulet, played by Edward Turner at Derby Cathedral
A Call to Action - George Colerick discusses early Romanticism, with particular reference to Schubert, the piano, Schumann and the development of the symphony orchestra
Vividly Projected - Mike Wheeler listens to J S Bach, Gustav Holst, George Dyson, David Bednall, Edward Bairstow, César Franck, Purcell Mansfield, Judith Weir and Marcel Dupré, played by organist Sachin Gunga
Bright and Clear - Alexander Binns plays organ music by Alfred Hollins, Harrison Oxley, Reginald Goss-Custard, Maurice Duruflé, Joseph Bonnet and César Franck, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Simply Exhilarating - Music for violin and piano by César Franck and Camille Saint-Saëns from Hungarian duo Boglárka György and Brigitta Sveda impresses Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. A Unique Snapshot - French music for Christmas, sung in Oxford by a Cambridge choir, heard by Keith Bramich. '... Christmas music, much of it well-known in Britain, sung in French in various original and unusual versions ...'
Big-boned Works - Mike Wheeler listens to Hong Kong-born pianist Rachel Cheung playing Franck, Schumann and Liszt
Mozart Changes - Carleton Etherington's organ recital at Derby Cathedral, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. A Magnificent Project - Wind band music by Percy Grainger impresses Paul Sarcich. '... a band of obviously first-rate musicians, informed conducting from Engeset, and excellent recording ...'
Ensemble. A Joy to Hear - Michael Foyle and Maksim Stsura play Beethoven, Franck and Elgar, impressing Mike Wheeler
Historical Spread - Michael Overbury's Derby Cathedral organ recital impresses Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Uniquely Peculiar - French music for brass and piano, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Careful attention to the music's slightest details means the interpretive aspect is consistently special and charismatic.'
CD Spotlight. Adventurous Disposition - Sophie Rosa and Benjamin Powell, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'A wonderfully attractive recital ...'
A Strong Impression - Mark Bebbington makes a return visit to Nottingham, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Beautifully Managed - Music for Lent and Easter impresses Howard Smith. '... excellent musical standards and high technical achievements ...'
CD Spotlight. Top-Notch - The Dobson organ at Merton College, praised by Gerald Fenech
Musicianship and Restraint - Tom Corfield's organ playing impresses Tony Westerman
DVD Spotlight. Toughest Penance - Franck's 'Stradella', reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... the staging did its best to eliminate the music altogether ...'
Ensemble. A Pleasant Surprise - Fauré, Britten and Franck in Cleveland, heard by Suzanne Torrey
Fire and Energy - Peter Gould provides a compelling end to Derby Cathedral's summer organ series, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Nimble Playing - Music for saxophone and piano played by Huw Wiggin and James Sherlock, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Wholly Inspiring - A recital by Elaine Huckle, heard by Howard Smith. '... her tonal resources are robust and the delivery pleasingly straightforward.'
Ensemble. The Finest of Them All - The 2012 Hereford Three Choirs Festival, reviewed by Roderic Dunnett
Spell-Binding - A recital by organist Steven Grahl, heard by Mike Wheeler
Great Energy - Jane Watts launches Derby Cathedral's series of summer organ recitals, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Superb Playing - Bill Newman listens to a selection of instrumental chamber music in London
CD Spotlight. A Fascinating Coupling - Mendelssohn and Franck quartets, heard by Robert Anderson. '... strenuous and compelling ...'
Mysterious and Interesting - Hans Hielscher at the organ of Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
New Year Blues - A roundup of recent London concerts by Bill Newman
Ensemble. Better Late than Never - The BPSE Late Summer Festival, attended by Malcolm Troup
Ensemble. A Cross Section - Bill Newman comments on some recent concerts at London's Wigmore Hall
Ensemble. Crystalline Lightness - A Symphony of the Americas concert, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
CD Spotlight. A Purposeful Vigour - Symphonies by Albéric Magnard impress Patric Standford. '... a notable symphonic architect.'
CD Spotlight. A Distinctive Voice - Music by Vincent d'Indy, recommended by Robert Anderson. 'The eloquent solo viola of Lawrence Power is crucial ...'
Ensemble. Expert Playing - Music for voices and brass, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Lovely Performance - A recital by Bálint Székely and Mariko Kondo, heard by Bill Newman
Ensemble. Highly Charged - A recital by Daniel Kuzmin and Alberto Portugheis, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
An Interesting Programme - An organ recital by Martin Neary, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Compelling Effect - Malcolm Archer at the organ of Derby Cathedral, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Record box. A rare treat - Jean Guillou plays the complete organ works of César Franck, reviewed by Tess Crebbin
Ensemble. Bold individuality - Malcolm Miller enjoys a performance by an outstanding young Hungarian duo at the Wallace Collection
CD Spotlight. A collector's item - Stephen Isserlis and Stephen Hough play Rachmaninov and Franck, admired by John Bell Young. '... the rapport between Mr Isserlis and Mr Hough is on the order of the clairvoyant.'
CD Spotlight. Mephistopheles in attendence - The playing of Marina Milic-Apostolovic, enjoyed by Robert Anderson
CD Spotlight. Uneasy agitation - The music of César Franck, reviewed by Robert Anderson. 'Thiollier is capable of the loveliest sonorities from the outset ...'