Cover image for Jean Langlais : the man and his music
Jean Langlais : the man and his music
Labounsky, Ann.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Portland, Or. : Amadeus Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
392 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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ML410.L245 L33 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Jean Langlais (1907-1991) was among the foremost French musicians of his time. He was the successor to the musical tradition established by C(c)sar Franck and like him was organist at the church of Sainte Clotilde in Paris. Though blind from early childhood he became one of the most celebrated touring virtuos of his time his legendary recitals always concluding with an improvisation upon a submitted theme. Langlais wrote a body of music for organ second only in extent to that of Bach and his compositions for organ remain widely played. This biography by one of his favorite pupils examines both his life and music. HARDCOVER.

Author Notes

Ann Labounsky, Ph.D., is chair of organ and sacred music at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Blind performer, composer, and teacher Langlais (1907-91) was one of the most prominent members of the organ world throughout most of the 20th century. This biographical study by Labounsky, a Langlais protege and chair of organ and sacred music at Duquesne University, delves into all facets of his personal and professional life, including some analysis of his major compositions. Especially interesting are the discussions of his often contentious relationships with friends (one of his closest was with French composer/organist Olivier Messiaen) and relatives. Despite the author's close personal contact with Langlais (she also acted as his guide and interpreter during his 1964 U.S. tour), she does not gloss over the more unpleasant aspects of this complex personality, although most stories are told from Langlais's point of view. Labounsky's approach is quite different from Kathleen Thomerson's in Jean Langlais: A Bio-Bibliography (Greenwood Pr., 1988), which is principally a detailed bibliographic catalog of his compositions by category. Recommended for public and academic libraries.DTimothy J. McGee, Univ. of Toronto (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

France has provided some of the 20th century's most important musicians (Olivier Messiaen, Marcel Dupre, Maurice Durufle, etc.) and Langlais (1907-91) occupies a significant place among them. The blind composer was organist for many years at the Paris basilica of Sainte-Clotilde. Labounsky (Duquesne Univ.) was one of many Americans to study with him and this relationship paved the way for this informative study of his music and his life. Though not a detailed scholarly or theoretical study, the book fills out the biographical sketch provided by Kathleen Thomerson's Jean Langlais: A Bio-bibliography (CH, Jan'89), showing Langlais in a personal and revealing light. Labounsky speaks with authority: she had access to Langlais's family and many of his manuscripts and letters and was once the object of Langlais's romantic affection. Describing details from his devotion to the church and close friendships to his jealousy, conceit, and marital infidelities, Labounsky presents a complex and deep individual who maintained firm beliefs and high artistic standards. She also describes many unpublished works and provides helpful appendixes, including Langlais's treatise on teaching blind students. This intimate, sometimes anecdotal biographical portrait is a welcome addition to the store of knowledge about 20th-century French music as a whole and this important figure specifically. Upper-division undergraduates and above. B. Doherty; Southwest Missouri State University

Table of Contents

Allen Hobbs
Forewordp. 9
Prefacep. 13
Chapter 1 Early Years 1907-1917p. 17
Chapter 2 National Institute for the Blind 1917-1927p. 30
Chapter 3 The Paris Conservatory 1927-1930p. 48
Chapter 4 Formative Years 1930-1939p. 63
Chapter 5 War Years 1940-1945p. 105
Chapter 6 Sainte-Clotilde 1945-1952p. 121
Chapter 7 American Tours 1952-1959p. 149
Chapter 8 New Worlds 1962-1964p. 174
Chapter 9 American Revisited 1959-1969p. 193
Chapter 10 Vatican II Conflicts 1959-1972p. 210
Chapter 11 Congregational Music 1946-1990p. 233
Chapter 12 Poems of Life 1965-1972p. 251
Chapter 13 Heart Attack and Aftermath 1973-1979p. 275
Chapter 14 Widower, Bridegroom, Father 1979-1984p. 295
Chapter 15 Epiloguep. 313
Afterwordp. 329
Appendix A Selected Students of Jean Langlaisp. 333
Appendix B Langlais's Treatise on Teaching Blind Studentsp. 335
Appendix C Chronological List of Worksp. 342
Notesp. 364
Selected Bibliographyp. 383
Indexp. 385