In 1860, when Fauré was fifteen, the twenty-five-year-old Camille Saint-Saëns (later composer of the Carnival of the animals
and the celebrated ‘organ’ symphony) joined the teaching staff at the École Niedermeyer where Fauré was a student. The two composers, conductors, organists, and pianists remained lifelong friends. Fauré left the École Niedermeyer at the age of twenty, and at twenty-one was appointed organist of a church in Rennes. In 1872, after a year of service in a light infantry regiment during the Franco-Prussian war, Fauré was back at his old school, this time on its teaching staff. He was also appointed assistant to Charles-Marie Widor (composer of the famous organ toccata) at the huge Parisian church of St Sulpice, and sometimes deputized for Saint-Saëns at the society church of the Madeleine. By this time Saint-Saëns was becoming an increasingly important figure in French music, so in 1877 he resigned his church post. Saint-Saëns was succeeded at the Madeleine by Théodore Dubois, whose assistant and choirmaster Fauré became. Fauré himself succeeded Dubois in 1896 and remained organist of the Madeleine until 1905, when he also succeeded Dubois as director of the Paris Conservatoire.
from notes by Jeremy Summerly © 2017