3rd Festival Palazzetto
Bru Zane Montréal

The world of César Franck and 19th-century French musical heritage celebrated at MMFA’s Bourgie Hall

February 15, 2022

The highly productive collaboration between Bourgie Hall of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Palazzetto Bru Zane – Centre de musique romantique française continues. Devoted to promoting French music of the long 19th century (1780-1920), the Festival Palazzetto Bru Zane Montréal will focus this year on César Franck in celebration of the 200th anniversary of his birth.

César Franck

A major figure of French post-Romanticism, César Franck (Liège, 1822 – Paris, 1890) left behind a powerful and profound legacy, in which various facets of French musical modernity are displayed. Still relatively unknown to music lovers, this composer’s output evinces perfectly mastered musical writing displaying a deeply personal style, constantly striving for formal perfection.

A renowned pedagogue, his devoted followers include Chausson, d’Indy, Vierne, Ropartz as well as Tournemire and Bréville, who held the utmost admiration for him. Sometimes presented by the latter as austere and intellectual, his music now appears in a quite different light, standing out for its individuality and innovative character.

This festival thus offers for its 2022 edition, held at Bourgie Hall, three highly anticipated events highlighting some of his most significant works.

A major figure of French post-Romanticism, César Franck left behind a powerful and profound legacy, in which various facets of French musical modernity are displayed.

Bringing the 19th century to life also means presenting its visual aspects. From the opera set to the official portrait of a composer, from the dedication of a score to the invitation ticket for a concert, all the iconographic documents of the Romantic period often tell us a lot about the economic, social and aesthetic history of this period. The very gestures of the virtuosos in full performance, with their theatrical demonstrativeness immortalized in certain paintings, remind us that the century of Paganini and Sarah Bernhardt dedicated itself to the theatre and the opera.


Charles Richard-Hamelin : Franck, Chausson and Ravel

Wednesday, March 2, 7:30 pm.
Thursday, March 3, 7:30 pm.

Opening the festival: pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin, in a nostalgia-filled program of French music looking back at the heritage of the past. Franck’s Prélude, aria et final in E major, Op. 23 remains profoundly influenced by Bach, while Ernest Chausson offers moments of exquisite poetry in his Quelques danses. As for Maurice Ravel, he takes a fresh look at the past with his moving Tombeau de Couperin.

Please note that a second performance has been added, on Thursday, March 3, at 7:30 pm.

Charles Richard-Hamelin, piano

Prélude, aria et final en mi majeur, op. 23

Quelques danses, op. 26

Pavane pour une infante défunte
Le Tombeau de Couperin

Pianiste Charles Richard-Hamelin

Charles Richard-Hamelin

Pentaèdre and Friends: Franck’s Symphony

Wednesday, March 23, 7:30 pm.          

This concert provides the opportunity to experience César Franck in novel ways, featuring the dramatic Symphony in D minor as well as the very moving Prélude, fugue et variation for organ, both arranged by Mathieu Lussier.


Valérie Milot, harp
Jean-Willy Kunz, organ
Étienne Lafrance, double bass


Ariane Brisson, flute
Élise Poulin, oboe
Martin Carpentier, clarinet
Louis-Philippe Marsolais, French horn
Mathieu Lussier, bassoon and arrangements


Prélude, fugue et variation in B minor, Op. 18 (arr. for wind quintet and harp by Mathieu Lussier
Symphony in D minor (arr. for wind quintet, double bass, harp and organ by Mathieu Lussier)



Musicians of the OSM – Ars Gallica: Vierne and Franck

Friday, March 25, 6:30 pm.              

The Musicians of the OSM conclude this edition of the Festival with two major works from the French chamber music repertoire. César Franck’s imposing Piano Quintet and Louis Vierne’s youthful Quartet, Op. 12 conjure up vastly different worlds. To the energy and intensity of the former, the latter responds with anguish and sweet melancholy, lightened by a delectable Intermezzo.


Andrew Wan, violin
Olivier Thouin, violin
Victor Fournelle-Blain, viola
Anna Burden, cello
Meagan Milatz, piano


String Quartet in D minor, Op. 12

Piano Quintet in F minor, FWV 7

In collaboration with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal

Please note that it is with deep regret that the concert featuring violinist Stéphane-Marie Degand and pianist Daniel Isoir, planned for Sunday, February 13, at 2:30 p.m., has been cancelled due to the ongoing health situation regarding COVID-19.

Ars Gallica

Palazzetto Bru Zane – Centre de musique romantique française

The mission of the Palazzetto Bru Zane – Centre de musique romantique française is the rediscovery of the French musical heritage of the long 19th century (1780-1920), by giving it the influence it deserves. Located in a Venetian palazzo dating from 1695 which was specially restored for this purpose, it is a realization of the Fondation Bru. It combines artistic ambition and scientific rigor, reflecting the humanist spirit that guides the foundation’s actions. The Palazzetto Bru Zane’s main activities, in close collaboration with various partners, are research, publication of scores and books, concert programming, support for educational projects, and recordings.

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Images: Courtesy of Palazzetto Bru Zane Montréal

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Bourgie Hall, the concert hall of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is located in the restored Erskine and American Heritage Church. Designated in 1998 as a “Historic Site of National Interest”, the metamorphosed venue now boasts outstanding acoustics and an exceptional decor, including twenty historic Tiffany stained glass windows. Perfectly suited to the needs of chamber music ensembles and other groups such as string orchestras, the Bourgie Hall offers music lovers musical experiences that reflect the encyclopedic diversity of the MMFA.

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