Louis Vierne:Symphonies No. 1 & 4
Louis Vierne was born in Poitiers, the capital of the Vienne department, nearly blind due to congenital cataracts, but at an early age was discovered to have an unusual gift for music. (At age two he heard the piano for the first time: the pianist played him a Schubert lullaby and he promptly began to pick out the notes of the lullaby on the piano.)
After completing school in the provinces, Louis Vierne entered the Paris Conservatory. From 1892, Vierne served as an assistant to the organist Charles-Marie Widor at the church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris. Vierne subsequently became principal organist at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, a post he held from 1900 until his death in 1937.
Vierne had a life that was physically and emotionally very difficult, with severe spiritual trials that are reflected in much of his music. His congenital cataracts did not make him completely blind, but he was what would be called today "legally blind." Early in his career, he composed on outsized manuscript paper, using "a large pencil" as his friend Marcel Dupré described. Later in life, as his limited sight continued to diminish, he resorted to Braille to do most of his work.