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Results for Louis Vierne Vierne :
Six symphonies for organ. 24 Pièces de fantaisie, 24 Pièces en style libre. Various other organ works, songs (mélodies), solo piano and chamber works, and choral and orchestral music. Recommended as an introduction: his Third and Sixth Symphonies (recorded by Bruno Mathieu on an affordable CD from Naxos), and any selections from his 24 Fantasies for organ.
|Name||Opus number||Instrument||Year written||Notes||Publisher|
|String Quartet||2 Violins, Viola and Cello|
|Heure de Berger||Mezzo soprano, Baritone and Piano||Durand|
|O Triste Etait Mon Ame||High Voice and Piano||Durand|
|Tantum ergo||SATB and Choir Organ||Hamelle (now Leduc)|
|Allegretto||Organ||Masters Music Publications Inc.|
|Praxinoé||4 Voices, Chorus and Orchestra||1903-1905||unpublished|
|Stances damour et de rêve||1913|
|Eros||Single Voice and Orchestra||1916|
|Dal vertice||Tenor and Orchestra||1917|
|Piano Quintet||Piano, 2 Violins, Viola and Cello||1917||Salabert|
|Marche Triomphale||Organ, Brass, Timpani||1921||Salabert|
|Spleens et détresses (Verlaine)||1924|
|5 Poèmes (Bauldelaire)||1924|
|Poème de lamour (Richepin)||1924|
|Organ Symphony No.5||Organ||1924||Durand|
|Les djinns (symphonic poem)||Orchestra||1925|
|Psyché||Single Voice and Orchestra||1926|
|Poème||Piano and Orchestra||1926||Lemoine|
|Trois Improvisations||Organ||1928||I: Marche épiscopaleII:III:
CortègeReconstructed by Maurice Duruflé.
|Ballade du désespéré||1931|
|Messe basse pour les défunts||Organ||1936||Lemoine|
|Organ Symphony No.1||14||Organ||1899||Hamelle (now Leduc)|
|Messe solennelle||16||SATB and 2 Organs||1900||Hamelle (now Leduc)|
|Suite bourguignonne||17||Piano||1900||Masters Music Publications Inc.|
|Organ Symphony No.2||20||Organ||1903||Hamelle (now Leduc)|
|Sonate||23||Violin and Piano||1906||Masters Music Publications Inc.|
|Sonate||27||Cello and Piano||1910||Durand|
|Organ Symphony No.3||28||Organ||1912||Durand|
|Messe basse||30||Organ/Harmonium||1913||Masters Music Publications Inc.|
|24 Pièces in Style Libre (Free Style)||31||Organ||1913||Durand|
|Organ Symphony No.4||32||Organ||1914||Lemoine|
|Pièces de Fantaisie, Suite No. 1||51||Organ||1926||I:II: Andantino||Lemoine|
|Pièces de Fantaisie, Suite No. 2||53||Organ||1926||I:II: Andantino||Lemoine|
|Pièces de Fantaisie, Suite No. 3||54||Organ||I:II: Andantino||Lemoine|
|Pièces de Fantaisie, Suite No. 4||55||Organ||I:II: Andantino||Lemoine|
|Angelus||57||Medium Voice and Organ||1931||Lemoine|
|Organ Symphony No. 6||59||Organ||1930||Lemoine|
(contribution by Daniel Mitterdorfer <firstname.lastname@example.org>)
Son of a journalist, Vierne showed strong musical aptitude from an early age.
Throughout his entire life, he was either mostly or totally without sight.
Born with congenital cataracts, he received in his early years the doting attention of
his parents, who blamed themselves for their son’s unfortunate affliction, for which they
were in no way at fault.
The family moved around for his father’s career with different newspapers,
and Vierne spent his childhood in Poitiers, Lille and later Paris. His uncle, Charles
Colin, oboe teacher at the Paris Conservatory and an organist, first recognised the depth
of his young nephew’s gift for music, introduced him to the pipeorgan, took him to
the concerts which first stirred in him a yearning to become an organist, and provided
aid and encouragement. As a youngster, Vierne also learned violin and played quite
This tranquil childhood first began to crumble when Louis was 11 and his
beloved and supportive Uncle Colin died within just days after developing an acute
respiratory illness. Vierne felt a tremendous grief at this loss,
but was sustained by his father and by the memory of his uncle in his
aspiration to become an organ recitalist.
When Vierne was 15, his father began displaying subtle signs of declining
health, and within a year, died from a silent cancer. This passing brought
financial hardship to the family and a corresponding change in their living
At 19, Vierne entered César Franck’s
organ class at the Paris Conservatory. When his mentor Franck died quite suddenly less
than a year later, the young Vierne was deeply shaken. He continued his
studies with Charles-Marie Widor, and became his assistant
at the Church of Saint-Sulpice and also a colleague and friend of the famous
organist Alexandre Guilmant.
During the 1890s, Vierne was a popular figure in home musical circles, where he
usually acted as accompanist on the piano. Through this activity, he met and
married in 1899 a young soprano, Arlette Taskin. The following year, at the
age of 30, he was selected in a competition of some fifty organists and appointed
resident organist (titulaire) of the cathedral of Notre-Dame, Paris, a post
which he occupied until his death.
Despite his near-total lack of sight, Vierne regularly made his way about
Paris on his own, both by day and by night. One drizzly night in 1906, however, he badly
maimed his leg and ankle amid some excavation work in the streets, in an accident
which nearly cost him his career as organist. Beginning around this time and continuing
over the next decade or so, Vierne was hit by a series of grave misfortunes. The
painful discovery of his wife’s treacherous adultery with none other than their
supposed friend, an organbuilder, led to a divorce; that same year, his younger son
contracted tuberculosis, from which he died four years after, at the age of ten; both his
mother and his friend Guilmant succumbed to kidney failure, each after many weeks’
protracted agony; and then, another child, his teenage son Jacques [James], was killed in
combat in WW1 — for which the composer blamed himself in relenting to the unseasoned
lad’s pleas to enlist; and finally, the composer completely lost what little sight he had,
after a last-ditch surgical attempt to halt rapidly advancing glaucoma.
Perhaps understandably, he has been described ‘off-the-record’ by
many who had contact with him as having a somewhat grumbling or ‘crabby’
disposition at times. But Vierne’s was plainly a life few would envy; at the lowest
point of his life, successive tragedies had left Vierne a broken man, largely alone in
the world, until his triumphant comeback in the late 1920s.
For all the anguish, loss, and suffering Vierne faced in the course of his
life, it might also be said that he was a man of remarkable resilience and character.
Vierne has also been described as a man of great kindness, ever generous with his
time and supportive and encouraging toward his students.
All this while, he struggled to maintain his career, and composed numerous
works for organ, chamber instruments, voice, and orchestra - tediously writing out all
his own tidy manuscripts, using special work methods he adopted. He is perhaps best
remembered for his six ‘symphonies’ for organ, his 24 Fantasies for organ (in four
books, or suites), and his 24 Pieces in Free Style, but today is
increasingly known for the fine legacy of works he left in nearly all genres, of which his chamber
music and piano pieces display a rare beauty and intimate expression. In his time,
though, he was best-known as an organist and was universally acknowledged as an
improvisatory genius of awesome mastery and imagination, of which today
there sadly remains no justly representative record.
In his many years as a teacher (first as a tutor at the Paris Conservatory,
later professor at the Schola Cantorum), he had an immense influence on an
entire generation of musicians and their pupils in turn. Among his pupils were Nadia
Boulanger, Marcel Dupré, Joseph Bonnet, André
Marchal, Maurice Duruflé, and Gaston Litaize.
By the end of the 1920s, Vierne had succeeded in fully reëstablishing
his and undertook an extensive four-month tour of North America, everywhere
receiving the highest acclaim. Toward the very end of this grand tour, he suffered
a minor heart attack, and thereafter grew increasingly concerned with his health. He spent
his final years mostly composing and giving private instruction.
He died of a sudden massive stroke, right at the organ console, between pieces
during a recital at Notre-Dame one evening in 1937, with his friend and closest
pupil, Maurice Duruflé by his side.
Copyright © 1998 Ned Rees <email@example.com>. All rights
reserved. Reproduction or republication in any form strictly prohibited without the prior
written consent of the author. Used with permission by the Classical Composers Database.