Louis Vierne Is a BAMF (and Proof That Organists Are Metal)
Louis Vierne is a certifiable badass organist from the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. He was born blind and had to have surgery to be able to distinguish shapes and objects. Did that stop him from playing the one instrument that literally requires you to distinguish hundreds and hundreds of small objects from each other? Nope, he just did it (and he learned from Cesar Franck, another great organist).
In 1906 he got hit by a car and the doctors said they might have to amputate his leg. Did you know you play an organ with both your hands and both your feet? Well you do, and Vierne just re-learned how to play with his feet after the accident. Because nobody tells Louis Vierne no.
And because he's a badass, Vierne went on to become the official organist at the Notre Dame in Paris, a position he won by competitively dunking on numerous other musicians. He considered this his greatest achievement, and what Louis Vierne says goes.
In one final act of badassery, he carried out his lifelong dream: to die while playing at Notre Dame. In 1937, to a full recital hall in Notre Dame, he was giving his 1,750th performance and actually had a heart-attack while playing and died at the console, and keeled over so that the low "E" played until they removed his body. To this day, no rock band has ever been so metal.
Alright, so without the decoration, Louis Vierne is my favorite Organist and composer from the period. The organ is, in my opinion, the coolest instrument on the planet. It's the biggest, the loudest, and the most impressive. It's also got the most wide and interesting array of sounds, like having an orchestra at your fingertips. Vierne made some of my favorite music for the organ (music that my lowly organ skills will never let me play). He's also, obviously, pretty badass.
In truth, I think all organists are pretty cool. They play a cool, complicated instrument that really sounds like no other. They also play with their hands and their feet. Someone once said when a musician mates with an octopus, an organist is born. Come to think of it, Davy Jones plays the Organ and he's pretty cool. Coincidence? I think not.
If you get the chance, give Vierne a listen, you can look up his work on YouTube or a Pandora Radio station in his name. Look especially for Symphony No. 1 for Organ in D Minor, Op. 14. That's the first song I heard of his live (and in my understanding is the one he was playing when he died).