Louis-James-Alfred Lefébure-Wély (13 November 1817 – 31 December 1869) was a French organist and composer. He played a major role in the development of the French symphonic organ style and was closely associated with the organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, inaugurating many new Cavaillé-Coll organs.
His playing was virtuosic, and as a performer, he was rated above eminent contemporaries including César Franck. His compositions, less substantial than those of Franck and others, have not held such a prominent place in the repertory.
A French government website about Cavaillé-Coll calls Lefébure-Wely an "exceptionally talented dandy who, better than anyone, had grasped the musical potential of the new tones and combinations to create music that was thrilling, renewing, impressive and at times heartrending". The site says of the composer, "A protégé of the aristocracy, he frequented the bourgeois salons where he often performed with his wife, a singer … and his two daughters who were pianists. He was the incarnation of the organ of the Second Empire." Even Gioacchino Rossini, not known for the solemnity of most of his own music, once told Lefébure-Wely, "You are admired more for your faults than your virtues."
In 1847 Lefébure-Wely became organist at the Église de la Madeleine, and of Saint Sulpice from 1863 until his death.
"Romance sans paroles, Op. 92" was published around 1855 and was originally written for harmonium.
This arrangement is by the great William T. Best (13 August 1826 — 10 May 1897), the greatest English organ virtuoso of his day.
So great was his playing, that Franz Liszt called him the greatest virtuoso on ANY instrument!
This lovely work, a "romance without words" really sings and soars, especially after a little "embroidery" by Mr. Best!
The score is found in the "Red Album" published by Schott, and it is attached below.
Also attached are photos of Lefébure-Wély. W. T. Best, and of the Madeleine and of Saint Sulpice.