LEFÉBURE-WÉLY, Louis James Alfred, born in Paris Nov. 13, 1817, son of Antoine Lefébvre, organist and composer, who took the name of Lefébure-Wély, and died 1831. He learned his notes before the alphabet, and as soon as he could speak showed a marvellous aptitude for music. At eight he was his father's deputy at the organ, accompanying the plainsong and playing short pieces. Though only 15 when his father died, he was appointed his successor at St. Roch through the influence of Queen Marie Amélie. Feeling the need of solid study, he entered the Conservatoire in 1832, and obtained the second prizes for pianoforte and organ in 1834, and the first for both in the following year. He then took lessons in counterpoint from Halévy, and in composition from Berton, but, not satisfied with these professors, studied privately with Adolphe Adam, and with Séjan, the organist, who initiated him in the art of improvising and in the management of the stops. He told the author of this article that he owed much to both these men, widely different as they were, and he often sought their advice after he had left the Conservatoire in order to marry. To support his young family he took to teaching, and composed a quantity of pianoforte pieces, some of which were popular at the time. But it is as an organist that he will be remembered. His improvisations were marvellous, and from the piquancy of his harmonies, the unexpectedness of his combinations, the fertility of his imagination, and the charm which pervaded all he did, he might justly be called the Auber of the organ. The great popularity in France of the free-reed instruments of Debain and Mustel is largely owing to him; indeed, the effects he produced on the instruments of the harmonium class were really astonishing. Endowed with immense powers of work, Lefébure-Wély attempted all branches of composition—chamber music; symphonies for full orchestra; masses; an opéra-comique in 3 acts, 'Les Recruteurs' (Dec. 13, 1861); etc. Among his best works are his 'Cantiques,' a remarkable 'O Salutaris,' his 'Offertoires', many of his fantasias for harmonium, and his organ-pieces. He received the Legion of Honour in 1850, being at the time organist of the Madeleine, where he was from 1847 to 1858. After this he had for some time no regular post, but in 1863 accepted the organ of St. Sulpice, so long held with success by his friend and master Séjan. Here he remained till his death, which took place, of consumption, in Paris on Dec. 31, 1869.
[ G. C. ]
LEFFLER, Adam, born in 1808, son of James Henry Leffler, bassoon player and organist of St. Katherine's Hospital by the Tower, the German Lutheran Church in the Savoy, and Streatham Chapel, who died suddenly in the street in 1819—was soon after his father's death admitted a chorister of Westminster Abbey. On attaining manhood he was endowed with a bass voice of exceptionally fine quality and extensive compass, from E below the stave to G above it,—and a natural gift for singing. He first attracted notice in October 1829 at a Festival at Exeter, when the casual absence of another performer gave him the opportunity of appearing as a principal singer. He acquitted himself so satisfactorily that he was immediately appointed a deputy at Westminster Abbey, and shortly afterwards took and maintained a good position on the English operatic stage and in the concert room. But for a constitutional carelessness and neglect of close study he might, with his natural and acquired qualifications, have occupied the highest place in his profession. He died of apoplexy, March 28, 1857.
[ W. H. H. ]
LEGATO (Ital., sometimes written ligato; Ger. gebunden; Fr. lié), 'connected'; the sound of each note of a phrase being sustained until the next is heard. In singing, a legato passage is vocalised upon a single vowel, on stringed instruments it is played by a single stroke of the bow, and on the pianoforte or organ by keeping each finger upon its key until the exact moment of striking the next. On wind instruments with holes or keys, a legato passage is played in one breath, the notes being produced by opening or stopping the holes; but a wind instrument on which the different sounds are produced by the action of the lips alone, as the horn, trumpet, etc., is incapable of making a true legato, except in the rare cases in which one of the notes of the phrase is produced by stopping the bell of the instrument with the hand, as in the following example from the Scherzo of Beethoven's 7th Symphony—
The sign of legato is a curved line drawn above or beneath the notes. In music for wind or stringed instruments the curve covers as many notes as are to be played with a single breath, or a single stroke of the bow; thus—
Beethoven. Symphony No. 5.
Beethoven. Sympony No. 9.
In vocal music the same sign is often used, as in Handel's chorus, 'And he shall purify,' but it is not necessary, since the composer can always ensure a legato by giving a single syllable to the whole passage, and it is in fact frequently omitted, as in the air 'Every valley.'
In pianoforte music, all passages which are without any mark are played legato, inasmuch as the notes are not detached; the curved line is therefore used more for the sake of giving a finished appearance to the passage than from any practical necessity. Nevertheless, passages are