Continuing our journey through the “Big Book of Classical Music,” here are a couple of versions of a song called Panis angelicus (Bread of Angels) by French Composer Cesar Franck:
According to Britannica.com, César Franck, in full César-auguste Franck, (born Dec. 10, 1822, Liège, Neth.—died Nov. 8, 1890, Paris, France), was a Belgian-French Romantic composer and organist who was the chief figure in a movement to give French music an emotional engagement, technical solidity, and seriousness comparable to that of German composers.
Franck was born of a Walloon father and a mother of German descent. He showed unmistakable musical gifts that enabled him to enter the Liège conservatory at the age of eight, and his progress as a pianist was so astonishing that in 1834 his father took him on tour and a year later dispatched him to Paris, where he worked with the Bohemian composer Anton Reicha, then professor at the Paris Conservatory. In 1836 the whole family, including the younger son Joseph, who played the violin, moved to Paris, and in 1837 César Franck entered the Paris Conservatory. Within a year he had won a Grand Prix d’Honneur by a feat of transposition in the sight-reading test, and this honour was followed by a first prize for fugue (1840) and second prize for organ (1841). Although the boy should now normally have prepared to compete for the Prix de Rome, a prize offered yearly in Paris for study in Rome, his father was determined on a virtuoso’s career for him and his violinist brother, with whom he gave concerts, and therefore removed him prematurely from the conservatory.
In order to please his father and earn much-needed money, Franck gave concerts, the programs of which were largely devoted to performing his own showy fantasias and operatic potpourris, popular at that time. After 1840, when he turned his attention increasingly to the organ, his compositions became noticeably more serious, and three trios written at this time were to impress favourably the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. A more ambitious work was the cantata Ruth, which had its first performance at the conservatory on Jan. 4, 1846.