Cesar Franck was a Belgian-French Romantic composer and organist. He played the lead role in a French music movement equivalent to German composers to its emotional presence, technique, and seriousness. He was appointed organist in 1851 in the church of Saint-Jean-Saint-François and, in 1858, in the church of Sainte-Clotilde, where he was already choirmaster. The improvisations with which he was to become known and even their elaboration in organ and choral works originated from the organ loft of Sainte-Clotilde. Much of this music is characterized by the taste of the day, which in ecclesiastical music was a simplistic tenderness and saccharine sweetness. His position as organ professor at the Paris Conservatory in 1872, which appeared to him as a surprise since he had not indulged in some of the conventional preliminary intrigues in such situations, was more significant to Franck's career musician.
Cesar Franck's open-heartedness and lack of intelligence were to make his rivals as well as allies among his pupils and his colleagues. The fact that his organ classes quickly became composition classes strengthened this enmity, and his pupils have not infrequently seemed superior to those of the traditional professors of composition. Franck fulfilled his capacity as a musician in the last ten years (1880-90) of his life. He was one of the most potent French composers in the second half of the 19th century, with his Symphony in D Minor (1888), Variations symphoniques (1885), Piano Quintet in F Minor (1879), String Quartet in D Major (1889), Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano (1886), and numerous organ pieces. His music is characterized by melodic flights that are soaring, almost improvisatory.
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