Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

War and the Franckistes

What did you do in the war, Papa? In today's programme Donald Macleod finds César Franck and his sons caught up in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. The composer is now at the head of an adoring band of young composers - Franckistes - eager to learn from the master, even when the public at large was indifferent. In the midst of a siege, Franck volunteers to help keep Paris alive through deliveries of fuel and portions of chocolate. He is also be inspired to start work on his epic choral work, Les Beatitudes which, like most of his works, would endure a disastrous premiere! After the war, Franck's followers would establish the Société Nationale de Musique. As we'll discover, this was generally good news for the promotion of instrumental music. But as Franck's circle of young composers grew ever wider, a rift would start to appear between César and his wife Felicité, who grew increasingly resentful of their presence. Nevertheless, Franck managed to pen the one song by which he is best known to the world: Panis Angelicus. With his Trois Pièces written for organ, he would also impress audiences in the vast hall of the Trocadero Palace!

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Wed 26 Feb 2014 18:30

Composer Help Page


Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.

Take a tour of Ravel's house

At Ravel's house at Montfort l'Amaury

Sara Mohr-Pietsch reveals Ravel's character in his exquisitely-decorated house near Paris

The absurdly talented Herr Mendelssohn


Donald Macleod reveals Mendelssohn's gift for sketching and watercolours.

Composers A to Z


Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.