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Langlais, Jean
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Biography
Langlais, Jean

(Born; La Fontenelle, 15 Feb 1907; Died; Paris, 8 May 1991). French composer and organist. He studied at blind school, with Dupré and Dukas at the Paris Conservatoire, and with Tournemire, whom he succeeded in 1945 as organist at Ste Clotilde. He visited the USA several times. His works are mostly masses and organ music, some based on Gregorian themes, enhanced by rich polymodal harmonies.
© Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK

The blind organist Jean Langlais was one of the most famous representatives of a great French tradition, a tradition that was nourished by the superb musical education provided by the Institut des Jeunes Aveugles (Institute for Blind Children) in Paris. Born into a simple country family in Brittany, Langlais tragically lost his sight in infancy, and it was at the Institute that his exceptional musical gifts were first recognised and encouraged. In due course he became one of the most successful organists, teachers and composers of his generation, succeeding César Franck and Charles Tournemire as Organist of the Basilica of Sainte-Clotilde in Paris from 1945 until his retirement in 1987. While he was still a student, Langlais’ composition tutor Paul Dukas told him that he was "a born composer", and this judgment was certainly vindicated by the seemingly effortless flow of new works that he produced during the next 60 years, works that were never as revolutionary as the music of his friend Messiaen, but which nevertheless had a unique and instantly recognisable personality of their own. In spite of his handicap Langlais was a great traveller and he became especially popular in the USA.
©David Gammie

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