Louis Vierne, who was born in Poitiers on 8th October 1870 and died in Paris on 2nd June 1937, will go down to posterity mainly as an organist, whereas he could have made a name for himself in every domain with the sole exception of the theatre. He was the son of a journalist of Bonapartist tendencies, the Editor-in-chief of the Vienne newspaper, and a future editor at the Figaro (1880), and was born nearly blind. In spite of several operations and some improvement, his blindness became worse.
In 1880, he heard Franck for the first time at St. Clotilde, and was later accepted by him as a private pupil. While at the Institut des Jeunes Aveugles (Institute for young blind children) he studied the piano and organ, and the violin as well, which was to the benefit of his chamber music. In 1890, the year Franck died, he entered the Conservatoire (organ class), getting the first prize in 1894. In 1892 he became the deputy of his master Charles-Marie Widor at St. Sulpice, and in 1900 was nominated in a competitive examination, in front of fifty other candidates, titular in Notre Dame. His deputy was Marcel Dupré. In 1912 he was in charge of an organ class at the Schola Cantorum.
It was during his 1750th concert, when he had just played “Tombstone for a dead child”, the third piece of his Triptych opus 58 from 1929-1931, while he was just about to improvise on the Alma Redemptoris Mater, and sitting beside his disciple Maurice Duruflé, that he was struck down in the organ loft of Notre Dame by a cardiac embolism.