Widor – Master of the Organ Symphony

Widor – Master of the Organ Symphony

Charles-Marie Widor is a true musical force: a virtuoso who revolutionised organ playing in France, a composer who invented the organ symphony and wrote the most famous toccata since Bach, and an enormously influential figure in French cultural history.

This boxed set provides a complete portrait of this great composer.

The centrepiece is a magnificent three-part documentary showing how Widor came to write his organ symphonies, how his compositional style developed and matured, and how these works fit into his overall career as a performer, teacher and writer. Presented by Gerard Brooks and featuring interviews with Widor scholars Daniel Roth, John Near and Anne-Isabelle de Parcevaux, this film also sets Widor’s organ music in the context of his work as a mainstream composer of operas, ballets, chamber music and orchestral symphonies.

Widor’s life was intertwined with that of the great French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. Therefore Widor’s greatest organ works are recorded in mesmerising surround-sound on the three best surviving Cavaillé-Coll instruments, Saint-Sulpice in Paris, where Widor himself was organist for almost sixty years, Orléans Cathedral and Saint-Ouen in Rouen. Widor’s fifth and sixth symphonies are included in their entirety on both CD and DVD, performed by Gerard Brooks. Daniel Roth, the current organist at Saint-Sulpice, performs a range of movements from the other symphonies.


145-minute three-part documentary about Charles-Marie Widor’s organ works, presented by Gerard Brooks, with John Near, Daniel Roth and Anne-Isabelle de Parcevaux.
Filmed Performances (and CD tracks):
From St Ouen, Rouen:

Symphony 5

From Orleans Cathedral:

Symphony 6

All played by Gerard Brooks.

Daniel Roth live at St Sulpice.

DVD/CD set with fully illustrated colour booklet and handsomely designed digipack.

Charles-Marie Widor (1844 – 1937), the most famous composer of organ music since Bach, wrote ten revolutionary organ symphonies that established the organ as a rival of the orchestra, pioneered the use of symphonic forms for the instrument, and sublimated influences as diverse as Bach’s fugues, Wagner’s music dramas and medieval plainchant into an original musical language. On top of this, he composed a Toccata that is probably the best-loved piece of organ music ever written.