In this episode of our Famous Organists Blog Series, we’ll be diving into the life and legacy of Eugène Gigout, a renowned organist and composer as well as an influential educator.
At Viscount Organs, we’re dedicated to all things pipe organs. From building innovative, elegant instruments to paying homage to the great minds who have influenced the wonderful world of organ music, we love sharing our passion and knowledge with our readers!
Now, without further ado, let’s talk about Gigout!
Musical From A Young Age
Eugène Gigout was born on March 23, 1844, in Nancy, France. He initially began learning the organ at the local cathedral in Nancy, Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Annonciation.
Before long, Gigout’s talent was recognized, and at the age of 13, he moved to Paris to become the understudy to the famous organist Camille Saint-Saën at the Ecole Niedermeyer.
During his time working with Saint-Saën, Gigout began to hone his organ playing and improvisation skills. He worked at the Ecole Niedermeyer until his graduation, at which point he began perhaps what he is most famous for.
In 1863, at the age of 19, Gigout became the titulaire at Église Saint-Augustin de Paris (The Church Of St. Augustin). Amazingly, he held this position until his death in 1925, that’s a whopping 62 years!
The Legacy of Gigout
Although he composed works for a multitude of instruments, Gigout’s most remembered for the compositions he crafted for the organ, his instrument of choice.
His organ compositions highlight his incredible mind for improvisation and his eloquent artistic voice. In 1890, he released his compositions, 10 pièces pour orgue, which is undoubtedly his most famous set of works. More specifically, his piece from this selection, Toccata in B minor, makes regular appearances in organists’ repertoires even today!
Gigout also has a recognized reputation as an organ educator. In 1885, Eugène created his own school that was dedicated to teaching the ins and outs of the organ, including improvisation. Interestingly enough, Gigout left his own school in 1911 to assume the position of Professor of Organ and Composition at the prestigious Paris Conservatoire after the death of Alexandre Guilmant, the organist who previously held the position.
Another interesting aspect of Eugène Gigout’s legacy was his relationship with the iconic organist, César Franck. It is known that the two had a deep bond, and were extraordinarily close friends. So much so, that upon Franck’s death in 1890, Gigout played the organ for his funeral.
Gigout passed away in 1925 after a long, influential life and career as an organist. His commitment to the artform was evident through his consistent role as a titulaire for the majority of his life, his immense dedication to music education and his pupils, and the impressive, virtuosic discography that he left behind.
Here at Viscount Organs, we like to think that we share a level of commitment to the organ and its culture equal to that of Gigout. We’re constantly striving to help the instrument and art form evolve and become more accessible to the masses, while simultaneously working to preserve and stay true to the aspects of the instrument that make it so unique.
We hope that you have learned a thing or two from reading this blog! If we’ve inspired some questions in your mind about some famous organists like Gigout, a desire to acquire an amazing organ of your own, or the realization that you’d like to learn more about the incredible technology of the organ, contact us today! We’d love to hear from you.