The Most Epic Death In Music History: Louis Vierne

The Most Epic Death In Music History: Louis Vierne

The French musician’s life ended exactly as he wanted — doing what he most loved.
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The art world loves a good death. Whether it’s Millais’s "Ophelia," singing in a river as she drowns, or Mozart’s apocryphal death by requiem (famously depicted in the play and movie "Amadeus"), the end of a fictional life tends to carry more glamour (or tragedy) than a real one. It would be a fair assessment, then, to initially believe that the life and death of French composer Louis Vierne is one of fiction. His story not only reads like one straight out of Hollywood but ends exactly how he wished — even if that wish might have been an exaggeration.

Born in 1870 with cataracts so severe that he’d be legally blind today, Vierne was dealt an unfortunate hand. Though a later operation would grant him a very narrow field of view, he would have to rely on his other senses to guide him through life. The family that raised him was much more nurturing than the world that cursed him. His uncle, an accomplished musician, suggested that Vierne receive an education in music (or at the very least, develop a “broad cultural background”). His father agreed and at an early age, Vierne was exposed to the instrument he instantly fell in love with: the pipe organ.

Vierne was born at the right time, as French organs in the late 1800s were undergoing nothing short of a revolution. With the whole of art and culture being swept up in 19th-century romanticism, not even church instruments were spared. The new “symphonic” organs pioneered in France by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll were big, expressive and cutting edge. They featured a large variety of stops (a term that roughly equates to “instrument” on an organ) that could be played together, on their own, increase or decrease in volume and provide a seemingly endless pallet of sounds, much like a symphony. This was the kind of sound and music Vierne first heard at Église Saint-Maurice in Lille. The relatively modest instrument instantly captivated him with its “magical effects of softness, crescendo and power.” It was obvious from the start: the organ would be the instrument of his expression.

The Vierne family moved to Paris, where he’d receive a top-notch education. Vierne learned from Franck, Widor and Guilmant, masters at the time of both performance and composition. Before he became an organist, however, he was hit with the first of many tragedies — his beloved uncle suddenly died. It was he that Vierne credited with his inspiration and success in life. Despite this and the death of his younger sister and father, Vierne completed his studies with glowing success. He served as an assistant at Saint-Sulpice before earning the coveted position as principal organist at Notre-Dame de Paris.

His career there would ultimately define him as a composer and performer. He’d become world renowned for his improvisation and write a large catalog of pieces, primarily for organ, voice and piano. His personal life was not nearly as successful. It was plagued by injuries, illness, divorce and deaths of family members. Despite all of it, he trucked on with a job that he loved to death: Vierne often stated that it was his wish to die at his console. Whether or not he was serious, Vierne got his wish. He was giving what is claimed to be his 1,750th concert. Age, tragedy, work and drugs to cope had clearly taken a toll on him. Though the audience heard music just as fast and energetic as he always played, Maurice Durufle, one of Vierne’s students up in the loft with him, could tell he was feeling ill. He came to the part in the program where he was scheduled to play two improvisations. Vierne chose the stops he would use and suddenly fell forward, stepping on a pedal as he went down, sending a guttural low tone throughout the cathedral. As the silence grew longer, it became clear — the note was his last.

Vierne’s life and death quickly became Notre-Dame legend. Though the outdated console was replaced, it remains on display at the cathedral, complete with the bench he played on to the very end. The prestigious organ, in disrepair for most of his career, is now a state-of-the-art wonder to behold (mostly with your ears). Though Vierne’s pieces aren’t performed nearly as often as that of Widor or Bach, they still enjoy regular programming and a slew of recordings. It’s music that offers a reflection of his own life — dramatic, at times dark, but often with a big, unforgettable finish.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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21 Inexpensive Ways to Spend Time with Friends

Spending quality time with friends doesn't need to be expensive!

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Need some ideas on what to do with friends today? Low on cash but still looking to have a fun time with friends? Looking for some ways that you can spend some real quality time with friends?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you've come to the right place! A as college student myself, I understand the feeling of wanting to hang out with friends and doing something cheap but fun. Here's a list of 26 inexpensive ways you can spend the day with your friends!

Sing karaoke or answer trivia questions at a resturant

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This is something that my college friends and I do, and we LOVE it! Order an appetizer or two and split it amongst the party. Sing along to some of your favorite songs or answer questions for possibly some prizes! The best part about this option is that you don't even need to be good at either to have fun.

Play board games, card games, or complete a puzzle

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Everyone has board games lying around! Challenge your friends to beat you in fun games like "Cards Against Humanity", "Clue", or (dare I say it?) "Monopoly"! If you like role playing games, try out "Dungeons and Dragons". If you're looking for some new games, you can check out 5 Below for some deals too.

Have a bonfire

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There's nothing more relaxing than sitting around a fire with friends while roasting marshmallows for s'mores!

Go pick some strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.!

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What's great about this option is not only do you have fun picking the various fruits with your friends, but you are rewarded afterwards by getting to eat them!

Go to the movies on discount night/ stay in and have a Netflix movie night

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Check your local movies theaters to see if they hold any discount days on tickets. Often theaters will give discounts on student tickets so remember to ask! Additionally, check to see if the restaurants close to the movie theaters will give you discounts on food if you present you movie tickets.

Make a music video/ short film

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Okay, this is SUCH a fun one to do. Find a favorite song and make your own music video to go along with it! If writing is more your speed, write a short drama or a comedy with friends and shoot it on your phone. There is a 100% chance you will create new inside jokes and memories to last a lifetime when you do this.

Spend some time at the park

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Grab some tennis racquets, a football, a baseball, a soccer ball, or any equipment needed for the sport you are your friends are into, and have some fun at the park! If you prefer jamming out to music, check to see if there are any free concerts you and your friends can attend at the park.

Challenge your friends to restyle their old clothing/ Have a fashion challenge at Goodwill

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Find an article of clothing that you don't really wear anymore and restyle it! this can be as cheap as you want it to be, and you and your friends can get super creative with the challenge. If you want to step the challenge up, set a budget (IE: $10, $15) and find clothing to make a new and improved outfit. You could also set a budget and try to flip a single item too!

Go to the Beach!

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The most you would really have to pay for is a parking ticket! Bring some at home snack and spend the rest of the day swimming or making some sand castles with your friends!

Draw what you see!

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Go to the center of town (or really just any place/thing that's interesting to look at) and draw what you see. You don't have to be good at drawing to participate in this at all!

Taste test new foods

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If you're looking for something new and exciting on a tiny budget, go into a grocery store and buy 3-5 sharable items that you have never tried before/you would never think you would consider buying. If you're up to it, record your reactions!

Make a time capsule

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Creating a time capsule is a unique way to spend time with friends while putting history into a box. Put in photos, write letters, and add items significant to this era!

Try to write a song/rap/poem/create choreography to a song

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Similar to the film option, write something new with your friends. This is a fun way to channel your creativity and have endless laughs all day.

Go for a hike, long walk, or bike ride

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Spending quality time with your friends could be as simple as going on a walk with them. Sometimes we don't get to talk with them as much as we'd like to and this is the perfect way to do so.

Bake some desserts or have some ice-cream!

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Baking desserts can be cheap and fun! Cake mix goes for $4, and that's a small price for something delicious to eat. If you're feeling creative, try making your own desserts together with what you have in the house!

Check to see if there are any festivals around!

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Local festivals are always around- street fairs, car shows, and food truck events are just to name a few.

Get tickets to see a local theatre production!

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A great way to support the theatre while finding something entertaining to do for a minimal cost is to go see a local theatre show!

Go French Fry Hopping

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(This might be might personal favorite on the list!) Go to different fast food restaurants and order large french fries. Then, taste test them to see which is the best one. Is this just an excuse to each french fries? Yes.

Give Each other Makeovers

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Pick out some cute outfits and do each other's hair and makeup! (Bonus points if you have a photo shoot afterwards)

Visit some puppies at the pound!

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For most places you need to be 18 or older to do this, but visit some puppies at a pound or at the mall and spend time with them. They're just so cute. You can't resist.

Stargaze/ watch the sunset

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Another relaxing way to end the night, this option is great if you want to speed up the deep talks and stay up late for a goof casual time!

Have any more ways to spend time with friends? Write down below!

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