Music for Pentecost 4 — Sunday July 3 2022

Toccata in B minor – Eugène Gigout (1844-1925)


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Eugène Gigout (1844-1925) is a composer you are unlikely to have come across unless you happen to be an organist. For those of us in that particular category, Gigout is the composer of precisely three pieces: a Toccata, a Scherzo and a Grand Choeur Dialogué, the latter much beloved of British organists with loud Tuba stops.

Perhaps more significantly than his compositions, though, Gigout occupies a fascinating place as a pedagogue, most notably as a link between two composers non-organists will have heard of, both of whom nonetheless were organists at the fashionable church of La Madeleine in Paris. Gigout was a student of Saint-Saëns, and a teacher of Fauré. He followed Alexandre Guilmant as Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatoire, as well as being organist at Saint-Augustin in Paris for no fewer than 62 years.

Eugène Gigout’s ever-popular Toccata in B minor, this Sunday’s postlude in church, employs every trick of the trade generally found in the French organ toccata. It is full of flourishes and figurations, deploys the usual powerful pedal part, and builds up to a striking conclusion. It remains one of the most admired and played concert pieces from the French organ repertoire. It is the fourth number of the Dix Pièces published in 1892.

Gerald Harder