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César Franck (1822-1890) – the „Pièces Posthumes” or „44 Petites Pièces” or „L’Organiste II”

When César Franck’s son, Georges Franck, offered to Enoch the unknown collection of his father’s manuscripts, he described, that these pieces were composed „by the request of Franck’s friend, a village organist, who asked Franck to compose some nice, but simple pieces suitable for the village church service”.

Indeed, Auguste Sanches was an organ amateur in Azille, where Franck with his family spent the vacations. Franck composed his „simple pieces” mostly during August and September 1859, but also there are some older (1858) and later (up to 1866) additions, not necessary understood in the close connection with the pieces of 08-09.1859. Some of other pieces are extremely difficult and weren’t probably composed for the amateur organist.

This collection is extremally important for Franck’s legacy and art-work-understanding. This is main link between the early organ pieces (such as [Pieces] in E flat major or in A major, or Andantino in g minor, and „Six Pieces” published in 1868.

Only part of the pieces has signed the dates of composition, what is helpful in the way, that we know about quite long period of composition (9 years), and about the fact, that the Collection hasn’t chronological order. Moreover, the collection hasn’t quite no order at all, so, it is not a „collection” or a „cycle”, but just unordered set of more or less separate pieces.

When we look at the CFF Catalogue, we can see, that the pieces collected in the „L’Organiste II” are divided in the following way: CFF 33, 36b, 55-90, 92-97. CFF 33 is an Offertoire for harmonium, CFF 36b is the organ version of another harmonium Offertoire; the CFF 55-90 and 92-97 are the pieces in more or less accidental order – partly consistent with the 1905 edition, partly inconsistent – probably based on the known dates of some pieces and tried to put the collection chronologically.

(NB: The CFF 91 – „Trois Antiennes pour l’orgue” – is just originally published part of the whole collection, exactly the pieces under the CFF numbers 66, 67, 82. So, the CFF 91 doesn’t contains any new music.)

What we can see with the chronology?

CFF 33 – unknown
CFF 36b – 25.08.1858
CFF 55 – unknown (great similarity to the „Breton Offertoire” composed ca. 1865)
CFF 56 – 12.11.1858
CFF 57 – 01.12.1858
CFF 58-90 – [probably it had a mean a period between 12.1858 and 09.1859]
CFF 91 – published [12.]1859
CFF 92 – 13.09.1859
CFF 93 – 29.10.1859
CFF 94 – unknown
CFF 95 – 28.08.1866 (in some publications is 28.08.1859)
CFF 96a – 27.10.1861
CFF 97 – 28.07.1863

The interesting fact: there are some publications, which dated the Offertoire in B major CFF 95 by date „28.08.1859”, instead of „28.08.1866”, visible in the 1905 Enoch edition! First of all, it overthrow the idea of a chronological catalogue CFF, and also it’s mean, that the collection was composed not in the years „1858-1863”, as wrote Georges Franck in the preface himself (!) (Tournemire wrote without any basis about 1855…), but in 1858-66. This is remarkable fact: from the years 1863-66 we haven’t any dated piece. Of course, we can think, that some of CFF 58-90 small pieces were composed in the years 1863-66, but it seems unbelievable. The more logical finding is the separate history of creation of Offertoire in B major CFF 95, which is belonging to the whole collection just accidentally.

Also this contradictory information is present in the first edition – Franck’s son’s declaration about the years „1858-1863” and the date „28.08.1866” at the end of last piece – shows us the fortuity of the publication and of whole collection.

After the 1905 publication by Enoch, the collection was published in 1930 (or 1935?, also by Enoch) under Charles Tournemire’s redaction – only the 30 of 44 pieces were used, with numerous changes (also shortcuts), under the other names, with additional slurs and with great changing of registration. The next important edition was made in 1992 by Joel-Marie Fauquet and Joris Verdin (published by Editions Musicales du Marais) under the title „Offertoires pour orgue”. This edition contains six Offertoires (CFF 55, 36b, 57, 92, 95, 96a, 96b). As we can see, the Offertoire CFF 33, as well as CFF 36a was ommited (as „composed for harmonium” – a synonym of „unplayable on organ”?!). Also few pieces, which are close to the „officially named” Offertoires and can be included in the same group of pieces – CFF 93, 86, 97 – were ommited.

Let’s back to the content of the collection. It can be divided into the very logical way, with some additions.

The optimal division is:

1. Offertoires et Élévations:
CFF 55. Offertoire, f [ca. 1858-63] 1905/1930/1992
CFF 36B. Offertoire, E flat 25.08.1858 1905/1930/1992
CFF 93. Élévation, A 29.10.1859 1905/1930
CFF 33. Offertoire (Allegro moderato), A [ca. 1858-63] 1905/1930
CFF 86. Andantino [Offertoire], A flat [ca. 1858-63] 1905/1930
CFF 92. Offertoire, g 13.09.1859 1905/1930/1992
CFF 95. Offertoire, B 28.08.1866 1905/1930/1992
CFF 96A. Offertoire, f sharp 27.10.1861 1905/1930/1992
CFF 97. Allegro moderato [Offertoire], D flat 28.07.1863 1905/1930

Please, pay attention, that the quite long unnamed pieces CFF 86 and 97 are in fact the Offertoires, and can well serve in this emploi. The other shorter unnamed pieces can be understood as verses.

2. Magnificat in D major:
CFF 58. Magnificat, D
CFF 59. Grand Choeur, D
CFF 60. [Andantino], D
CFF 61. [Quasi Marcia], d
CFF 62. [Allegretto], D
CFF 63. Grand Choeur, D
CFF 64. Amen, D
CFF 65. Gloria Patri, D
CFF 69. [Allegretto], d
CFF 70. [Allegretto non troppo], D
CFF 85. Lento, d

The set of pieces „in D major and in d minor”, including short „Amen”, can be understood as the model of „Magnificat” known from the „L’Organiste”. The pieces CFF 58-65 are situated in the strict order between the Elevation in A major and the Offertoire in A major. The three other pieces in D/d can be included into the suite, or even substitute any of the piece. Anyway, the pieces „Magnificat” CFF 58 and „Gloria Patri” CFF 65 are probably not the stricte organ pieces, but a harmonisation of the common singing. The Magnificat suites from „L’Organiste” contains 7 pieces plus „Amen” each one, and no choral harmonisation, so, after the excluding from the „suite” CFF 58-65 Gloria Patri, Magnificat and Amen we have just 6 pieces, and it will be just necessary to take one more piece from the CFF 69, 70 or 85.

Why the harmonisation of plein chants is present here (and missing in the „L’Organiste”)? Just because this collection was created as a „liturgical help” for less competent organist, who also could need a help with proper harmonisation of some chants. We shall remember, that Franck created the first (and main) „L’Organiste” after the years of improvising its verses, what he admired very much. So, the „helpful music” contains in the „Pieces Posthumes” was not only a gift for the amateur organist, but also a preparation of a model Franck finally composed in 1890 – not already as a tutorial, but as highly artistic work.

3. Magnificat in E flat major:
CFF 71. Magnificat, E flat
CFF 72. Magnificat, E flat
CFF 73. Grand Choeur (Moderato), E flat
CFF 74. [Moderato con moto], E flat
CFF 75. [Andantino], E flat
CFF 76. [Allegretto non troppo], E flat
CFF 77. Gloria Patri, E flat
CFF 78. Gloria Patri, E flat
CFF 79. Amen, E flat
CFF 80. Gloria Patri, E flat

Here the Magnificats CFF 71 and 72, as well as Gloria Patri CFF 77 and 78 are probably the accompaniment of the common singing; after excluding these pieces together with „Amen” CFF 79 we will have still 5 pieces to use as the organ verses in the Magnificat. This is not a complete suite, but also we don’t know, if the 1905 publication was prepared as a complete leavings of the pieces composed and handed to someone 47 years earlier.

4. Préludes pour l’Ave Maris Stella:
CFF 81. Prélude pour l’Ave Maris Stella (Andantino quasi Allegretto), D [ca. 1858] 1905/1930
CFF 82. Prélude pour l’Ave Maris Stella, D [ca. 1858] 1905/1930 (= Trois Antiennes, no. 3)
CFF 83. Prélude pour l’Ave Maris Stella (Lento), d [ca. 1858] 1905/1930

5. Messe du jour de Noël:

CFF 87. Kyrie de la Messe de Noël (Grand Choeur), c
CFF 88. [Moderato], c
CFF 89. [Moderato], c
CFF 90. Grand Choeur (Allegro), c

[Gloria] [or Entrée]
CFF 56. Grand Choeur, C (12.11.1858)

CFF 57. Offertoire pour la Messe de Minuit, d (01.12.1858)

CFF 94. Sortie, D

Did we know, that Franck composed the „Organ Mass”? Exactly – not the full mass (like Messe du jour de Noël by Boëly composed in 1842), but its important parts.

We have 4 verses for Kyrie (instead of 5 in Boëly’s Mass), a big and important Grand Choeur CFF 57 suitable for Gloria (Tu solus altissimus) – as it has place in Boëly’s Mass, or well-suitable for Introduction to the Mass. Why I think it’s more Gloria, than Entrée? Because it is situated after the Kyrie verses and before the Offertory, as well as because it hasn’t any description or the name other than „Grand Choeur”. The first Kyrie is indicated as „Kyrie de la Messe de Noël”, what seems to be not only the indication of the right place and right way to use of the piece, but also the beginning of the set of pieces composed for the same occasion. The „Grand Choeur” is large and festive, and can be used as the Offertoire, but we have it already. Grand Choeur is based (among other) on two famous French Christmas carols, first of which Boëly used in his Sortie in the Mass op. 11. But we also have the „Sortie” here, what is limited the using of „Grand Choeur” as a fragment of Gloria or the Entrée.
Other carol on which the Grand Choeur is based also was used by Boëly in his „Grand Choeur” in Gloria – the exact place where the Franck’s piece can be used.

After the probably Gloria we have the Offertoire („pour la Messe de Minuit”, CFF 57). Then there are no Sanctus or Agnus Dei, but there is effective and brilliant Sortie in D major (the key in which the Offertoire was ended, so the connection is undoubted), which is not indicated as „minuit” (midnight) or „de Noël” (Christmas), but is also based on the well-known French carol.

So, in that way we have 7 parts for the Christmas Mass. Now let’s look at the known dates of composition. We have dated only two pieces – Grand Choeur, C (12.11.1858) and Offertoire pour la Messe de Minuit, d (01.12.1858). This juxtaposition of two pieces based on the Christmas carols (one of which is indicated as for Christmas, and the other one – no) tries to give us the idea, that all 7 known as „for Christmas” pieces from this collection were created a month or two before Christmas of 1858. This is the best possible way to reconstruct the real time of their composition.

6. Separate pieces:
CFF 66. Quasi Lento, F [ca. 1858] 1905/1930 (= Trois Antiennes, no. 1)
CFF 67. Allegretto, c [ca. 1858] 1905/1930 (= Trois Antiennes, no. 2)
CFF 68. [Andantino], C [ca. 1858] 1905
CFF 84. Benedicamus, C [ca. 1858] 1905 (a harmonisation of the plein chant).

As we can see, the only „wasteland” between the rest of pieces is lovely but short Andantino CFF 68. The key of C major is simple, but significant in the whole context of the collection. The only place this piece can be used – is the „Christmas Mass”, where pieces of Kyrie are in C minor, and the probable Gloria is in C major. Is the Andantino CFF 68 a missing verse of Kyrie, or one more part of Gloria? It’s quite impossible to confirm. Also the problem is, that the piece is not based on any carol – so, its presence in the „Christmas Mass” is only hypothetical.

I am open for the discussion and new opinions and ways of seeing. Please, leave your notes in the comments. One man – no man, so, let’s work with Franck together.

Rostislaw Wygranienko,
Director of Music
Church of England in Poland



Zapytania z wyszukiwarki, prowadzące na tę stronę:

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  • piece posthumes cesar franck (1)