The Great Organ Cavaillé-Coll


Cavaillé-Coll (1853-1863)
Joseph Beuchet (1933 et 1962)
Barberis (1983)
Dargassies (2005)

The Great Organ of the Saint Clotilde Basilica is one of the masterpieces of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. It was inaugurated in 1859 by the organiste titulaire César Franck and its history was eventful. Various titulaires printed their marks on the instrument by extensions and restorations, resulting in an instrument that is both far away from the instrument of 1859 and in some ways still close. In fact this organ combines nowadays a romantic and a neo-symphonique character.

As for the romantic instrument, this organ is the sixth instrument of the famous French builder Cavaillé-Coll. It was built after those of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette (1837), Saint-Denis (1841), Saint-Jean-Saint-François (1846), Madeleine (1846) and Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (1852). Some changes that had alter its romantic character have been largely erased by the lastest restoration (2005). This offers the interpreter the possibility of a trip in time, close to the instrument of César Franck.

About the neo-symphonique organ, this is the result of four periods of construction (1859/1863-1933-1962-2005), in which the organ was enlarged from 46 to 71 stops and was equipped with the new technical opportunities available at these different times. Thus it successively was electrified, digitalized, equipped with a crescendo and finally a mobile console was added that allows the organist to be seen by the public and to play with choirs and orchestras

A few key-dates:

The organ is designed and installed by Cavaillé-Coll
with César Franck as organiste titulaire.
46 stops.

The organ is enlarged by Joseph Beuchet (Ets Cavaillé-Coll)
under the direction of Charles Tournemire.
56 stops.

The organ is enlarged and electrified by Beuchet-Debierre,
under the direction of Jean Langlais.
60 stops.

Restoration byJacques Barberis,
under the direction of Jean Langlais.
61 stops.

Restoration and enlargement by Bernard Dargassies
under the direction of Jacques Taddei, with assistance of Olivier Penin.
71 jeux

These successive layers have made this organ one of the most fascinating organs ever. It is true that the listener remains never insensitive to this organ with its two faces and so much different aspects.

More information:

The organ of César Franck

The organ of Charles Tournemire

The organ of Jean Langlais

The organ of Jacques Taddei