The Parisian Organist Par Excellence

Classical Academy | ComposersRomantic Period


In fin de siècle Paris, the one true organist par excellence was none other than Louis Vierne. The extraordinary surprise of this fact is that Vierne was born almost completely blind from congenital cataracts. Despite his condition, he discovered an early affinity for music and managed to find a way of composing using a large pencil, in his early days, and then Braille in the later years. 


The emotional and physical difficulties of Vierne's life are reflected in his music, laced with a sense, too, of the spiritual trials that he faced.  As principal organist of Notre-Dame, arguably the most prestigious organ post in the country, he undertook a successful, yet draining, tour of the United States to raise money for the much needed restoration of his beloved instrument. His works, full of theatricality, drama, and romanticism, is characterised by rich harmonies that make his music perhaps the most idiomatic for his chosen instrument, inspiring a generation of Parisian organist-composeres to follow in his footsteps.


Among his masterful compositions is the great organ and choral work, the Messe Solennelle, and, of course, the famous Carillon de Westminster, one of his 24 Fantasy Pieces. Listen to these and more works on this album by this remarkable organist who truly fought against the odds to achieve the heights he so thoroughly deserved.