César Franck was
born in Belgium in 1822. He showed early talent as a pianist, so much so that he
entered the Liege Conservatoire at the age of eight and his ambitious father
took him on tour when he was only twelve. In 1836 the family moved to Paris and
Franck entered the Paris Conservatoire, winning many prizes in performance and
his father’s wish that César become a virtuoso pianist (which almost amounted
to exploitation) he finally asserted himself and turned seriously to
composition. Perhaps his most famous orchestral works are the Symphony in D
minor and the Symphonic Variations.
composed in 1872, originally for tenor, organ, harp, cello and double bass. He
later added it to his three-voice Messe Solennelle which had been written
Latin text (translated as ‘O Wondrous Heavenly Bread’) refers to the bread
of the Holy Communion.