César Franck

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About César Franck

César Franck’s rich harmonic language and genius for tonal fluidity brought a distinctive style to late-19th century French music. Born in Liège in 1822, Franck injected an element of German purposefulness into a French musical landscape entranced by the allure of comic opera and salon bonbons. It’s no small irony, however, that his mature masterpieces post-date France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War when the newly-formed Société nationale de musique was rallying its musical troops under the banner Ars Gallica (French Art). In works such as the Symphony In D Minor (1888), the Piano Quintet (1880), and the Violin Sonata (1886), a wedding present for the Belgian violinist Ysaÿe, he reinvigorated the French symphonic and chamber music traditions with the rigor of his beloved cyclic form, a technique binding movements together with shared material. Just before his death in 1890, Franck completed the Trois Chorals, a high point in 19th-century organ literature.

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