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Gigout, Eugene

Arr. Olson, Gary


  • Ensemble: Brass Quintet
  • Genre: Classical
  • Grade: 3
  • Duration: 2.5 minutes
  • Catalog Number: DB-CAN0133

Communion is one of six organ pieces published in a collection in 1881.

Eugene Gigout was a prominent French organist at the turn of the century. He was well known not only for his
organ performance and composition, but also for his skill with improvisation and his mastery of the Gregorian
modes. Although his music is seldom performed today, he is still well known for his theoretical discussions of
these modes.

At age thirteen he was enrolled at the École Niedermeyer de Musique Religieuse where he was one of the few
pupils to study with Saint-Saëns. While at École Niedermeyer, he became fast friends with a somewhat
mischievous Gabriel Fauré. When Gounod’s Faust was revolutionizing the world of music, they sneaked out to
the Théâtre Lyrique to hear a performance for themselves. Unable to return to the school, they spend the night
roaming the streets of Paris.

In 1863, Gigout became the organist at St. Augustin. Although the church only possessed a small provisional
organ at that time, a three manual organ by Cavaillé-Coll was installed in 1868. Gigout held forth on this
instrument until his death in 1925, serving the same church for over sixty years. Although this organ was a
renowned instrument, it must have been difficult to play as the mechanical stop action often required the effort
of both hands. As a result, Gigout was often assisted in later life by his only granddaughter, who under Gigout’s
tutelage became an excellent organist in her own right.

Gigout began his academic career at his alma mater, the École Niedermeyer. He then became Professor of
Organ at the Paris Conservatory succeeding Guilmant. He brought with him a new dimension in organ
performance. Guilmant and Widor were brilliant technical performers and emphasized these characteristics to
the students. Gigout, on the other hand, excelled in improvisation and the accompaniment of plainsong.
Improvisation under Gigout was a finely polished skill which added greatly to organ students’ education.


This work is part of our Denver Brass Signature Series.

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