The nearly blind French organist, composer, improviser and teacher Louis Vierne was born in Poitiers on 8 October 1870, and it was discovered early in his life that he had an unusual gift for music. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire and then worked as assistant organist to Charles-Marie Widor at Saint-Sulpice. In 1900 he became principal organist at Notre-Dame, and remained in that post until his death (at the organ console, during a concert) on 2 June 1937.
At the start of his career, he composed on oversized manuscript paper with a large pencil, but later had to resort to braille. He was able to create improvisations at the keyboard which sounded like completed and polished compositions. He left us six organ symphonies, the Carillon de Westminster (one of 24 Fantasy Pieces) and 24 Pieces in Free Style, plus vocal and choral music, a symphony and some chamber works.
His students included Lili and Nadia Boulanger, Marcel Dupré and Augustin Barié.
A selection of M&V articles about Louis Vierne
Border Crossings - Mike Wheeler listens to Andy von Oppenkowski's recital as part of the Derby Cathedral organ series
Refreshingly Unusual - David Davies plays the organ of Derby Cathedral, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Piquant Shadings - Peter Gould returns to Derby to give an organ recital, delighting Mike Wheeler
A Player to be reckoned with - Organ music from Richard Hills, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Top-Notch - The Dobson organ at Merton College, praised by Gerald Fenech
Musicianship and Restraint - Tom Corfield's organ playing impresses Tony Westerman
Sharply Focused - John Scott at the organ of Derby Cathedral delights Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. An Annual Event? - Cathedral organ high jinks from Peter Gould, Tom Corfield, Christopher Johns, Sachin Gunga and Ben Bloor, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler
Technique and Musicianship - Tony Westerman is impressed by the organ playing of Tom Corfield
Wacky and Serious - Mike Wheeler is impressed by Ben Bloor's command of the Derby Cathedral organ
Superb Control - Tom Corfield gives ths last of this summer's Derby Cathedral summer organ recitals, heard by Mike Wheeler
Beautifully Played - Terence Bennett listens to organist David Liddle
Boldly Shaped - D'Arcy Trinkwon at the organ of Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
Nicely Paced - Martyn Rawles at the organ of Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
DVD Spotlight. Dignity and Impudence - A recital on Exeter Cathedral's organ, enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. '... Millington on fine form ...'
A Firm Grasp - Peter Litman plays the organs of Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Sorcerers and Apprentices - Collaborative organ performances at Derby Cathedral by Peter Gould, Tom Corfield, Christopher Johns, Ben Bloor and Sachin Gunga delight Tony Westerman
CD Spotlight. Eclectically Balanced - An organ recital by SooHwang Choi, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... expressive beauty.'
A Vigorous Account - Peter Gould at the organ of Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
Robustness and Transparency - Francis Jackson plays the organ of Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Glowing Performances - Music by Koechlin and Jongen, recommended by Howard Smith. '... a truly outstanding recital ...'
Ensemble. A Sensitive Account - Choral music by Rossini, Elgar and Handel, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Vividly Characterised - Mike Wheeler listens to the Sitwell Singers
CD Spotlight. Exquisitely Nuanced - Steve Davislim sings Vierne and Chausson, recommended by Howard Smith. 'I cannot think of higher praise.'
An Invigorating Performance - Paul Hale provides a fitting end to Derby Cathedral's summer organ series, and Mike Wheeler was there
Highly Effective - Peter Gould helps celebrate the seventieth anniversary of Derby Cathedral's Compton Organ, as noted by Mike Wheeler
Effectively Projected - York Minster's Robert Sharpe plays the organ at Derby Cathedral, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Youthful Freshness - Gareth Green gives the final organ recital in Derby Cathedral's summer series, and Mike Wheeler was in the audience
Ensemble. Rhythmic Drive - Mike Wheeler listens to The Midas Touch Organ Duo
Lucid Messiaen - Cathy Lamb at the organ, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Depth and Sonority - The first concert by Malcolm Goldring and the Sitwell Singers, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Multi-tasking - Peter Gould plays the organ at Derby Cathedral, reviewed by Tony Westerman
In Perfect Balance - Mike Wheeler listens to the last of Derby Cathedral's 2007 summer organ recitals
Compelling Effect - Malcolm Archer at the organ of Derby Cathedral, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Record Box. Vibrant Presentation - A worthy memorial to William Ferris, reviewed by Patric Standford
Noble and Moving - An organ recital by Andrew Nethsingha, appreciated by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. An exuberant performance - Mike Wheeler reviews the last of Derby Cathedral's summer organ recitals, given by Tom Corfield
CD Spotlight. Thrilling virtuosity - Organ music by Vierne and Alain, reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... James Lancelot shows throughout how effectively he can command the grand Romantic gesture.'
CD Spotlight - A marked contrast. 'Exemplary performances, excellent recording and presentation ...' Two piano quintets, with David Thompson