Albert Gilbert Ribollet (1884-1963)
First, you should know that life’s difficulties do not always result in the end of dreams and desires. We know of pianists with only the use of one hand, for example. This is a story of a brave soldier who was robbed of the use of one of his legs, and he was an organist. For years, I have offered the “Douze Pièces pour Orgue” (1921) by him because I think he wrote excellent music. You may wonder what prompted me to write this post now since I have offered Ribollet’s music since 2009. I got a call from a university professor of music who was doing research on Vierne’s 24 Pieces, and he found that one of them was dedicated to Ribollet. Guess who was happy to obblige! Ribollet’s life story makes a fine accompaniment to his music.
Albert Ribollet entered in 1900 the Conservatoire in Paris. For ten years, he studied with the great teachers of the day: the organ with Ch.-M. Widor, L. Vierne and A. Guilmant, and composition with Gédalge and Xavier Leroux. In 1906 he was awarded a First Prize in Harmony and in 1908 a First Prize in Counterpoint. He started as organist of Notre-Dame-de-Passy and at the same time assumed the function of Maître de Chapelle at Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire. He was appointed in 1913 organist at the Casino municipal in Nice, then a short time later organist of the Cathedral Sainte-Réparate in Nice.
Mobilized in 1914, he was woounded and had to have his right leg amputated. After long months of rehabilitation, he resumed his post as organist of the Cathedral. In 1948, he was appointed Director of the Conservatoire de Musique in Nice, where he remained in office until 1962, the date on which Pierre Cochereau succeded him.
He was both a prestigious improviser and a prolific composer: Symphonies, Symphonic poems, an Opéra-Comique, chamber music, Pieces for piano, Vocal music including choral a cappella, Pieces for organ, organ and orchestra, Masses for choir and organ, etc. These works were for the most part written in Nice and the greater part of which remain unpublished to this day.
This newspaper clipping describes his wound from February 16, 1915.
You can read some of his letters on this page from genealogie.ribollet.pagesperso-orange.fr. Here it is in English.
You may not know that Ribollet has a street named after him. On November 5, 1999, the city council of Nice named a street in his honor.
This is his collection of Twelve Pieces from 1921 published by Leduc.