In 1952, Jean Langlais made his first pilgrimage to America, introducing himself both as a formidable organist and gifted composer. Since then, as the years have passed, his ties across the Atlantic have grown ever stronger, and today he is known among organists in America almost as widely as in his native France.
Born February 15, 1907 in Brittany, the fact of his blindness opened the doors for him to the best musical education available in France. Had he been born with normal sight the government would not have subsidized his education. With the doors thus open, he distinguished himself, earning first prizes at the Paris Conservatory in organ, improvisation, counterpoint and fugue. In 1945, he assumed the post of organist at the Basilica of Ste. Clotilde in Paris, where he has since presided at the organ made famous by his illustrious predecessor, Cesar Franck.
Langlais has been one of the most prolific composers for organ in the twentieth century, numbering over three hundred published works. His compositions have their basis in a number of different musical materials, ranging from free composed themes through Gregorian Chant to folk music materials.
Langlais has used folk music materials very effectively in a number of his earlier works - Folkloric Suite, Eight Songs of Brittany, Noels avec Variations and Twenty-four Pieces. Likewise he has been greatly influenced by American materials, most notably in his American Suite, which has been revised and republished as his Third Symphony.
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