Catacomb-music or Alive and Well? Music of César Franck in historical recordings.
A year before César Franck’s death, a new invention was presented in Paris that would fundamentally change the music-world: Thomas Edison’s phonograph. For the first time it was possible to record music and then play it back later.
Franck composed for great virtuosos such as Louis Diémer and Eugène Ysaÿe. Their recordings (and many others) give us a clear picture of what he expected from his performers. Strangely, though, this source of information has only recently received any scholarly attention.
The most important part of this article is available online: an as complete as possible database of Franck recordings from before 1950. Many of these recordings are already freely available to listen to on the internet. They present a fascinating journey of discovery that makes it clear that much can change in a hundred years, and that music is particularly difficult to capture in words.