Christopher W. French, song writer, producer and composer, brings to you a beautiful collection of piano compositions and arrangements. His forty plus years of piano experience is only the beginning of what has inspired this beautiful masterpiece. His piano compositions have stirred the emotions and hearts of countless music lovers from all over the world. These original creations will quickly captivate your attention. You will discover the treasure and beauty within each song as you hear the emotion and love Christopher pours into his music. Peace and tranquility, joy and sorrow soon find their way into your heart after listening to these simple, yet captivating arrangements. Whether it be the joyful melodies and rhythms of songs like "Leap for Joy,"or the sadness and beauty of "The Man of Sorrows," Christopher's new album will make a beautiful addition to your music library, and deepen your love and appreciation for inspirational piano music.
The following story is what I recall from my childhood, that which influenced my love for the piano and music in general.
I was born in Topeka, Kansas during the 1950s, and was raised in a family of six children. My mother and father were very musical themselves; my father played the tenor saxophone during WWII in the Army band, and my mother played the piano and sang for the Uncle Dave’s show on WIBW Radio for three years when she was 9-12 years old in the late 1920s. She also played the piano and sang in the USO during WWII as well.
My father and mother insisted that all their six children would learn to play the piano, with my mother of course, being our teacher. She believed in starting us off at the age of 7 years old, and by the time it was my turn in line, I had already seen 3 older brothers forge the way ahead of me. This was a great advantage for me because I knew how the songs went in the John Thompson’s piano books my mother used to teach us from. Naturally, as with any young boy or girl learning an instrument, we at times would resist practicing the 30 minutes per day she had established for our lessons, however, my dad made it very clear there would be no discussion in the matter. When I look back now, I am very grateful for my mother and father’s perseverance, otherwise we all would have chosen less rewarding things to do with our free time.
For Christmas and Birthday gifts throughout our childhood, my mother would buy LP or 78 Records for each of us, from various artists which she believed would have a good influence in our music upbringing, and also enjoyable for all to listen to. My earliest remembrance, about 4 years old, was of a single 78 speed record, I’ve Been Working On The Railroad, which I played over and over again! In 1955, Roger Williams, the pianist, came out with his first big hit, Autumn Leaves, on KAPP Records. It was a beautiful piano and orchestra instrumental, directed by, Glenn Osser, with Roger Williams playing runs on his piano keyboard as if leaves were falling from the trees in Autumn. My mother gave Autumn Leaves to my older brother, Dave, and it instantly became our favorite, which was only the beginning of what was to come!
Growing up in a family of six children, we accepted the necessity of sharing a bedroom with our older brothers and sisters. We would always put on our favorite records to listen to as we fell asleep each night. The old record players could hold up to 6 LP records, and we made sure it was full. Our most played selections included, Roger Williams, and his album, Roger Williams Plays The Wonderful Music Of The Masters. This was an album with piano only, with famous songs like, Clair De Lune by Claude Debussy, Liebestraum by Franz Liszt, Malaguena by Ernesto Lecuona, Ritual Fire Dance by Manuel de Falla, Rustles Of Spring by Christian Sinding, and many other piano compositions written by famous Classical composers.
During a time when the majority of the kids my age were listening to Pop-Rock artists like, The Beatles, The Monkees, The Mamas and the Papas, etc, I was listening to groups like, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Al Hirt, Les Paul, and of course my favorite, Roger Williams. I also loved listening to the Carpenters when they came out. Their first big hit in 1970 was, Close To You, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Richard and Karen Carpenter were the greatest soft rock or easy listening group musicians ever in my opinion, and there are very few who had a singing voice like Karen Carpenter. Their music had great impact upon my life, and I’m sure there are multitudes of people who feel the same way. It wasn’t that I disliked Pop or Rock Music, I enjoyed that as well as the others, and listened to it everyday within our home from my brothers and sisters records and tapes being played. But my first choice of music was instrumentals and easy listening, and especially the piano.
Upon completing the John Thompson’s fourth grade piano book, my mother allowed us to explore piano sheet music of our own choice. My first selection was Clair De Lune by Claude Debussy, it was so inspiring to play and the intro is absolutely beautiful! When I was 16 years old, I remember spending hours on end practicing, Rustles Of Spring. I finally got the piano runs and arpeggios down pretty good. But one of my favorites, which I never even attempted was, The Flight of the Bumblebee, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. I once had the opportunity to see Roger Williams play that piano composition at the music department of Cal State University Northridge. Although he was 76 years of age at the time, he played the Flight of the Bumblebee perfectly and effortlessly! My son, Paul,and I were so impressed to see him perform! Paul also enjoyed Roger Williams piano music because of the cassette tapes I played in the car while Paul was growing up. Whenever we played instrumental piano music in the car when our children were very young, they would fall asleep for the whole ride, and then some!
During the 1980s I took drum lessons, which also helped me with my piano skills. Not only were they fun to play, but the drums gave me a better sense of timing, and contributed much in the future towards writing my own music. By the late 1990s, and by the grace of God, I was determined to write my own Christian music and piano compositions. In 2002, I began the project of creating my first Christian album, Pure & Simple, with my niece, Dominique, followed by, Cassandra Peterson, and her album, Hands In Wood. Both albums were completed by early 2005. Later that year in December, I had also finished my first Christian Piano album which I named, The Man Of Sorrows.
One beautiful day, I recall a time when I was moved by the Holy Spirit, to record a new piano solo, an arrangement that I had played, (for no specific reason), in the key of A Minor. I had no idea at the time what the song would be for, all I knew was to play and record, and see where it went. After recording for about 35 minutes, the song was completed. That very same day I put it on my website, curious to see what people would think of it. Within the first two weeks I was overwhelmed by what people thought, they loved it!! The song had no title at that time, and I knew it was worthy of a name, so I named it, The Man Of Sorrows.
The Man Of Sorrows was perfect! Because the song was written in the key of A Minor, it was very sad, especially the way it was played, slow and with much feeling. Jesus is referred to as being a man of sorrows in the Bible, in Isaiah chapter 53. The song fit the title very well, and it was what inspired me to begin may first Christian Piano CD! As I continued writing and recording these piano compositions, they received great response, and therefore motivated me to complete the work which God had planned for me to do. Many of the melodies and arrangements I had developed years before, but now it was time to put them all together in a more structured form and Christian setting, giving all glory to God!
I found the best method for naming these piano songs was to first write and record them, then listen to them, and imagine what part or story of the Bible they could be from. Mary’s Lullaby for example, was written in 3/4 time, like a waltz, it very much gave me the feeling and visualization of the Virgin Mary rocking baby Jesus to sleep. Samson and Delilia was obvious to me, with it’s heavy and pronounced piano bass lines, it gave me the strong impression of when Delilia called out, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” Also, when the song plays sweetly, I imagine Delilia trying to persuade Samson to tell her the secret of his great strength. I knew the name of that piano composition well before it was completed!
Chasing The Wind song was one that reminded me of the book of Ecclesiastes. “Meaningless, Meaningless, says the teacher!” The wind blows to the South and turns to the north, round and round it goes! Sarai song, Sarai was Abram’s wife, and she was very beautiful. Abram asked her to pretend that she was his sister, in fear of the Egyptians killing him for her. This method for naming the song titles for my The Man Of Sorrows album are throughout it’s entirety, excluding, Paul’s Song and Andrew’s Song, which are the names of my two sons. The stories behind those song titles are found on the music web pages themselves. I also have two daughters, and some day I will write songs for them as well, God willing.
Thank you for reading my story today. The greatest joy I have found in writing and recording Christian Music is sharing it with others, for without ears to listen, it would all be meaningless. I hope you enjoy this album and have found a peaceful and relaxing music to bless your days.
I am forever grateful to God for the opportunity of creating piano instrumentals dedicated to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I very much look forward to creating another album like The Man Of Sorrows. I believe this music is very unique in the fact that it’s theme and heart is inspired from Biblical times and stories. By the grace of God and His inspiration, I hope to make another album very soon! May God richly bless you, this day and always! Christopher W. French