Charles-Marie Widor

The Organ Symphonies

Charles-Marie Widor

Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937) was organist at the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris, a role he held for 63 years (1870-1933). He is famous for his ten organ “symphonies”.

All existing existing editions of the symphonies, whether original (see below) or more recent, do not address the problem of page turns. So of course, our main objective was to solve this problem thanks to the large format. For example, the famous “Toccata” from Symphony No. 5 is laid on only four pages in OrganScore instead of ten pages in the original editions.

Widor’s symphonies were all composed and published between 1872 and 1901, but were subject to numerous subsequent revisions until 1929. The history of these revisions can be summarized as follows:

  • 1872: publication of symphonies No. 1, 2, 3, 4 (Op.13)
  • 1879: minor revisions of Op. 13 ;
  • 1887: revision of Op. 13 and publication of symphonies No. 5, 6, 7, 8 (Op. 42)
  • 1888-1892: minor revisions of Op. 13 and Op. 42
  • 1901: revisions of Op. 13 and Op. 42 and publication of symphonies No. 9 (“Gothic”) and 10 (“Romane”)
  • 1911, 1918-1920, 1928-1929: mainly minor revisions.

Symphonies No. 1,2,3,4 (Op. 13) underwent particularly extensive revisions between 1872 and 1901, sometimes giving rise to complete re-writings of some movements, or even some others being deleted, added or replaced (cf. symphonies No. 2 and 3). It would have been a pity to completely forget these intermediate compositions. Therefore, we tried, for each of these first four symphonies, to select earlier movement versions which seemed worthy of interest and appended them to the score.

Symphony No. 1Widor Symphony No. 1 - Cover

Symphony No. 2Widor Symphony No. 2 - Cover

Symphony No. 3Widor Symphony No. 3 - Cover

Symphony No. 4Widor Symphony No. 4 - Cover