December 10, 1822 – November 08, 1890
César Frank was a very influential teacher and composer in France during the 19th century. From all reports, he was a very nice, almost saintly man. His students worshipped him, and it is said he never said a harsh word about anyone.
Born in Belgium, Franck was something of a prodigy. He entered the Paris Conservatory at age of 15. Once, at the end of a piano competition, he was given a very difficult piece to sight-read. “For fun,” he transposed the work from the key of Eb to C, amazing the judges. (When a piece is transposed, each pitch is changed and different notes must be played.)
When he was 30, Franck switched from piano to organ. He eventually became a professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory and organist at Ste. Clothilde, which had one of the finest instruments in Paris. Most of his most significant compositions were written for organ. His Sonata for Piano and Violin in A Major is still very popular with performers.