Articulation and Arpeggiation in the Prélude, Fugue et Variation, Op. 18, and Pastorale, Op. 19, by César Franck (1822-1890)

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A handful of surviving accounts describing César Franck’s playing indicate that he brought contemporary piano techniques to the organ through the adaptation of pianistic legato, legatissimo, staccato, and arpeggiation. The use of these techniques on the organ would have been natural to Franck because of his educational background, which included the intense study of piano performance. Unfortunately, without any surviving recordings of his own performances, it is hard to judge how and where he would have executed these different types of touch and arpeggiation. We do, however, have some accounts describing Franck’s organ playing by people who had heard him perform or knew others who had. In order to understand Franck’s manner of playing on the organ, it is possible to survey the piano techniques with which he was familiar. This study examines several important texts from the late eighteenth to early twentieth centuries that help us understand pianistic touch and arpeggiation. These include: Introduction to the Art of Playing the Pianoforte (1801) by Muzio Clementi (1752-1832), Vollständige theoretisch-practische Pianoforte-Schule, Op. 500 (1839) by Carl Czerny (1791-1857), Méthode de piano du conservatoire (1805) by Jean-Louis Adam (1758-1848), L’Anima di musica (1810) by Philip Antony Corri (1784-1832), Studien für das Pianoforte, Op. 70 (1825-6) by Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870), Encyclopédie du pianiste compositeur (ca. 1840) by Pierre-Joseph-Guillaume Zimmermann (1795-1853), and The Groundwork of the Leschetizky Method (1902) by Malwine Brée (1861-1937). Detailed descriptions, instructions, and musical examples from these texts provide a guideline for reconstructing Franck’s organ playing. Findings from these texts are applied to two organ works by Franck: Prélude, fugue et variation, Op. 18, and Pastorale, Op. 19 from his Six Pièces (1868).

Franck, César, Articulation, Arpeggiation, Pélude, Fugue et Variation Op. 18, Pastorale Op. 19