Suite Gothique by Léon Boëllmann

Last week, while listening to a BBC Radio 2 programme, I heard a very interesting musical composition, Suite Gothique by a French composer Léon Boëllmann (1862 – 1897). I have to confess, I’ve never heard either about this composer or about this musical piece.

 Unfortunately, this composer seems to be forgotten by those who write musical history textbooks. You can venture to check this, but in books I am familiar with, under letter ‘B’, you can find the surnames of many other composers such as Bach (and his sons), Baird, Bartók, Beethoven, Bellini, Berg, Berlioz, Bizet, Brahms, Bruckner, Buxtehude, but not Boëllmann.

According to  www.classiccat.net,  Boëllmann composed about 160 pieces in all genres and his best-known composition is Suite Gothique, which he composed two years before his death  in 1895. Basically, Suite Gothique is a piece designed for organ and consists of four parts: Introduction – Choral; Menuet Gothique; Prière à Notre-Dame and Toccata.

Toccata in particular is the most absorbing; it leaves the field clear for a good organist, so he can show his skills with as high level of technique and performance. Generally, this piece is very dynamic and might be breathless, especially when performed by good musicians and in a new interpretation. Probably, further contemplation on Suite Gothique is useless. I would only say that Black Dyke Band’s – from Queensbury, West Yorkshire –  version of this piece would definitely suit my idea of a good rendition.

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