71. Alexandre Guilmant [365 Composers for 2013]


12th March – Alexandre Guilmant


Guilmant (12th March 1837 – 29th March 1911) is our composer for 12th March, to mark the day of his birth
Nationality: French
Lifespan: 74 years
Genre: Romantic
Education: privately with Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens
Fame Ranking: 5

Guilmant was an organist and teacher in his home town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, until, in his thirties, he was appointed as organist at La Trinite church in Paris. He then pursued a career as a professional organ recitalist, undertaking sell-out tours across Europe and as far as the USA and Canada. He was also a teacher at the Conservatoire in Paris, with many students who went on to have successful organist careers.

Guilmant collated and composed organ music – in particular he is known among organ players for his “Archives des Maitres de l’Orgue” (“Archives of the Masters of the Organ”) a ten-volume anthology of pre-1750 French organ music which he, along with his colleague Andre Pirro collected together and published the first volume of in 1898. The final volume was not published until after Guilmant’s death. He also published a similar volume of non-French organ works.

Of his own compositions, his output is vast and creditable – he published numerous volumes of organ music, including methods and sonatas and symphonies. His symphonic works have been recorded a few times, whereas his lighter organ works are sometimes difficult to find recordings of since they tend to be quite short pieces.

Here is the first part of Guilmant’s first organ symphony:

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