Thursday, February 2, 2012

Franck - Organ Chorale No. 3 in A Minor

In the summer of 1890, Cesar Franck was riding in a cab when it was struck by a horse-drawn trolley. He suffered a fainting spell and a slight head injury, but he thought it wasn't serious enough to warrant treatment and went on his way. Soon it became difficult for him to walk and he had to give up his teaching at the Conservatoire and went on vacation to try and recuperate.  He went back to the Conservatoire in the fall of 1890 but contracted an upper respiratory ailment that soon changed to pneumonia. He died November 8, 1890.

It was during this vacation that he completed the three Chorales For Organ.  They are considered very important pieces in the organ repertoire, and bear the imprint of Francks later compositional style.

The Chorale No. 3 in A Minor begins as a toccata and has a contrasting second theme before it goes into a new theme played adagio. The finale of the piece hears the toccata return and the weaving in and out of the other themes heard in the piece.

 Very seldom has there been a composer of the importance of Franck that has left such a relatively small output of compositions.  Franck began his career as a virtuoso pianist and composer, but he ceased to compose anything of any import until the last twelve years of his life.  With a handful of compositions, including the Three Chorales For Organ, Franck's place in music history is assured.

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