French organist, composer and teacher Charles-Marie Widor was born in Lyon on 21 February 1844. His family were organ builders, and he studied initially with his father, then moved to Brussels for organ tuition with Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens and composition studies with François-Joseph Fétis. He then moved to Paris, where, a year later, he became organist at Saint-Sulpice. He also travelled internationally as one of the world's leading organists.
As a composer, Widor wrote operas, a ballet, orchestral works, songs and choral works, and chamber and piano music. He's best known for his organ music, and in particular for his ten organ symphonies. The Toccata from Symphony No 5 and the first movement of the sixth symphony are particularly well known.
For six years he was organ professor at the Paris Conservatoire, and then became composition professor, where his students included Marcel Dupré, Darius Milhaud, Charles Tournemire, Edgard Varèse and Louis Vierne. He also co-founded the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau in 1921 and was its director until 1934.
Widor died at home in Paris on 12 March 1937, aged ninety-three.
CD Spotlight. Incandescent - Gerald Fenech listens to the second Naxos disc of Charles-Marie Widor's organ symphonies. 'Wolfgang Rübsam provides irrepressible playing in these two early but much enterprising works.'
CD Spotlight. An Auspicious Start - Gerald Fenech listens to the first disc in the new Naxos cycle of Widor organ symphonies. '... a fascinating series of contrasts within a framework of spectacular effects.'
CD Spotlight. Impressive and Delightful - Geoff Pearce listens to Martin Setchell playing the Christchurch Town Hall Rieger organ in New Zealand. '... a wide range of organ music that I am sure will delight lovers of fine organ playing.'
All Reeds Blazing - Roger Sayer at the Derby Cathedral organ console impresses Mike Wheeler
Crossing Borders - Mike Wheeler listens to Hugh Morris at Derby Cathedral, beginning this year's summer organ recital series
A Welcome Return - Jennifer Bate plays the Derby Cathedral organ, heard by Mike Wheeler
Piquant Shadings - Peter Gould returns to Derby to give an organ recital, delighting Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Brilliant Playing - Organ music played by John Kitchen, enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. '... a curiously varied programme ...'
Ensemble. Music for the Brave Organist - Mike Wheeler listens to David Liddle's recital at Derby Cathedral
CD Spotlight. Varied Programme - The Usher Hall organ impresses Gerald Fenech. 'John Kitchen oozes out every sound possible from this monster of an organ ...'
Musicianship and Restraint - Tom Corfield's organ playing impresses Tony Westerman
CD Spotlight. Full Stretch - Poulenc's Organ Concerto, heard by Robert Anderson. '... marvellous vitality ...'
Quiet Dignity - Organist David Pipe at Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
A Challenging Listen - Peter Gould at the organ of Derby Cathedral, heard by Terence Bennett
Ensemble. The Finest of Them All - The 2012 Hereford Three Choirs Festival, reviewed by Roderic Dunnett
CD Spotlight. Wonderfully Deft - Choral and orchestral music by Camille Saint-Saëns, heard by Robert Anderson. 'The London Philharmonic under Geoffrey Simon gives of its best ...'
A Vigorous Account - Peter Gould at the organ of Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Great Fun - The Hallé Orchestra ends Nottingham's orchestral season, heard by Mike Wheeler
Effectively Projected - York Minster's Robert Sharpe plays the organ at Derby Cathedral, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Dynamic Extremes - Mike Wheeler enjoys Timothy Noon's recital of Bach, Bohm, Dubois, Messiaen and Widor
CD Spotlight. A unique achievement - EMI's golden years of the gramophone, reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... total fascination ...'