Léon Boëllmann (September 25, 1862 – October 11, 1897) was a French composer of Alsatian origin, known for a small number of compositions for organ. His best-known composition is Suite gothique (1895), still very much a staple of the organ repertoire, especially its dramatic concluding Toccata.
Boëllmann was born in Ensisheim, Haut-Rhin, the son of a pharmacist. In 1871, at the age of nine, he entered the École de Musique Classique et Religieuse (L'École Niedermeyer) in Paris, where he studied with its director, Gustave Lefèvre, and with Eugène Gigout. Boëllmann there won first prizes in piano, organ, counterpoint, fugue, plainsong, and composition. After his graduation in 1881, Boëllmann was hired as "'organiste de choeur'" at the Church of St. Vincent de Paul Paris, and six years later he became cantor and "organiste titulaire," a position he held until his early death, probably from tuberculosis.
In 1885, Boëllmann married Louise, the daughter of Gustave Lefèvre and the niece of Eugène Gigout. Having no children of his own, Gigout adopted Boëllmann, and he then taught in Gigout's school of organ playing and improvisation.
As a favored student of Gigout, Boëllmann moved in the best circles of the French musical world, and as a pleasing personality, he made friends of many artists and was able to give concerts both in Paris and the provinces. Boëllmann became known as "a dedicated teacher, trenchant critic, gifted composer and successful performer...who coaxed pleasing sounds out of recalcitrant instruments."
During the sixteen years of his professional life, Boëllmann composed about 160 pieces in all genres. Faithful to the style of Franck and an admirer of Saint-Saëns, Boëllmann yet exhibits a turn-of-the-century Post-romantic esthetic. His best-known composition the "Suite gothique" (1895), now a staple of the organ repertoire, especially known for the famous "Toccata."
Musical notes in FIRST COMMENT. Score & photos of Boëllmann attached below.