Musical contribution – June 2022

Lied                                                                                          César Franck (1822-1890)

(LiVE sample set: Paris, Cavaillé-Coll)

This year marks the 200th anniversary of César Franck’s birth. Born in Liège, Belgians proudly claim him as one of their own. Because the city was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands at the time, some also claim that he was a Dutchman. However, because he was naturalized as a Frenchman from 1837 and spent much of his life in Paris, he has gone down in history as a Frenchman.

César attended the conservatory in Liège from the early age of 8 years. Due to his successes, his father arranged concerts in a series of cities. He won prizes and was a prolific composer and celebrated musician. During this first part of his life, Franck adopted the gallant and exuberant composition style of his time. He later changed course, deciding to become a “serious” composer.

Parisians met this decision with incomprehension, being accustomed to grandeur and virtuosity instead. Innovations in terms of harmony and counterpoint were not appreciated at the time. A general sense of severe melancholy took the place of exuberance.

The work we are featuring this month was originally composed for piano and voice. It has what is known as an A-B-A structure. I have chosen to translate the voice with a Vox Humana in the first and last parts. This middle part is in a different time signature, and I recommend using a different register.

The singer is standing beside the grave of a loved one on a beautiful summer’s day. With a rose in her hand, she recalls the days of the harvest. Just as rest is taken next to a sheaf of wheat after a long day of hard work, rest is also taken in the grave. The memories remain.

 

André van Vliet

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