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Duruflé gained the premier prix in organ in 1922 and went on to win premiers prix in harmony in 1924 (Jean Gallon’s class), fugue in the same year (Caussade’s class), accompaniment in 1926 (Estyle’s class) and composition in 1928. Duruflé’s composition teacher was Paul Dukas who, like Tournemire and Vierne, was to exert a lifelong influence over Duruflé’s creative output.
In 1930 Maurice Duruflé was appointed organist of St Étienne-du-Mont, a post he shared with his wife Marie-Madeleine Duruflé-Chevalier from 1953 and one which he was to hold until 1975, when he suffered a bad car accident which was to prevent him from composing for the rest of his life. In the same year, 1930, Duruflé won the first prize offered by ‘Les Amis de l’Orgue’ for his Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le thème du «Veni Creator», Op 4, having won the first prizes offered by the same society for organ performance and improvisation; the score is inscribed ‘in affectionate homage to my master Louis Vierne’. In this work some of the characteristics of Duruflé’s music are manifest. The work is strongly influenced not only by the Gregorian plainsong theme which is heard at the outset of the work, but also by the shapes of the plainsong phrases; the composer had a fascination with plainsong which is best described by Duruflé himself, but here in connection with what is perhaps his best-known work, the Requiem of 1947: ‘As a general rule, I have above all tried to feel deeply the particular style of the Gregorian themes: and I have done my best to reconcile as far as possible the Gregorian rhythmic patterns, as fixed by the Benedictines of Solesmes, with the demands of the modern bar-structure.’ Duruflé shared with Fauré (sometimes called ‘le grégorianisant voluptueux’—the voluptuous gregorianist) a love of the shapes and colour of plainsong.
In 1936 Duruflé won the Blumenthal Foundation Prize for his Trois Danses for orchestra, Op 6, and he was further honoured by the Department of the Seine who awarded him their Grand Prix Musical in 1956. In 1961 he received the Vatican citation of Commander in the Order of St Gregory for the contribution he had made to sacred music. In addition to publishing articles on church music, and his post as Titulaire at St Étienne-du-Mont, Duruflé had deputized for Louis Vierne between 1929 and 1931 at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. He also deputized for Marcel Dupré’s class at the Paris Conservatoire in 1942 where, in the following year, he was appointed professor of harmony, a post he held until 1969.
M and Mme Duruflé were almost killed in May 1975 in a car accident near Valence, whilst driving home. A car hit them head-on and both suffered extensive injuries. Mme Duruflé regained her phenomenal powers as a keyboard executant, although M Duruflé was only partially to recover and the accident sadly ended his professional career. On 16 June 1986, Maurice Duruflé died at the age of eighty-four, having been in hospital for several months. As a tribute to his life and work, the composer’s Requiem, Op 9, was performed at a memorial service on October 11th in the same year.
As a performer, Duruflé toured extensively, visiting North Africa, Russia and North America, writing about his experiences in an article entitled ‘USA–USSR’, which was published in the French journal L’orgue. He also championed the music of his teachers, publishing Trois Improvisations by Louis Vierne in 1954 and Cinq Improvisations by Tournemire in 1958, having reconstructed the works from gramophone recordings made in the 1930s. Amongst his own recordings is a performance of Poulenc’s Organ Concerto, a work of which he had given the premiere of in 1938, having advised the composer on the details of the organ part. Duruflé made a number of other recordings, including several in America, as well as recordings of his own music with his wife in Soissons Cathedral and at St Étienne-du-Mont in Paris.
Composition was a difficult task for Duruflé and his music was constantly revised. Even after a substantial length of time had elapsed subsequent to the composition of a work, Duruflé seems to have been unable to resist a critical reappraisal of his work. There can be few composers who have devoted so much of their life to such a small number of compositions. By the same virtue there can be few composers who have produced such high-quality workmanship in their creative output, and whose complete work contains so much interest and variety.
from notes by William McVicker © 1990
|Duruflé & Fauré: Requiem|
'Superb' (Fanfare, USA)» More
|Duruflé: Requiem & Four Motets|
'For my money, remains the finest recorded version of this lovely work in any of its guises … strongly recommended' (Gramophone)
'The perfect team of soloists, a glorious sound from both choir and orchestra, a faithful re-creation of the score, and that special something which t ...» More
|Duruflé: Requiem & Messe Cum jubilo|
'O'Donnell's achievement becomes the reference point against which future recordings of this repertoire are measured' (Choir & Organ)
'The Westminster Cathedral boys and men carry the lyricism and harmonic luxuriance to an ethereal plane. The choral singing is superb … helping o ...» More
|Duruflé: The Complete Organ Music|
Erstwhile organist of St Paul’s Cathedral, John Scott, puts the cathedral’s wonderful instrument to the best possible use in this album of Maurice Duruflé’s complete works for organ.» More
|Fauré & Duruflé: Requiem|
'Superb' (Fanfare, USA)» More
|Music for Remembrance|
Throughout the past century Westminster Abbey has been a focus of national remembrance on Armistice Day. This latest album from its Choir is a programme of memorial music composed in England and France in the shadow of two World Wars. The main fea ...» More
|My Beloved's Voice|
Mark Williams leads the Choir of the Jesus College Cambridge through an evocative selection of choral works inspired in varying ways by the Songs of Songs.» More
|Organ Dreams, Vol. 4|
'Whether your dreams are of the nocturnal or day variety there is plenty to enjoy on this fastidiously engineered disc; Herrick's playing is strong on ...
'as ever, an enterprisingly devised selection of music, excellently performed on a pristine instrument. And, by the way, the quality of the recording ...» More
|Organ Fireworks, Vol. 10|
'Herrick portrays it as a persuasive, powerful and utterly compelling entity in which every note holds the listener in thrall, while this huge 96-stop ...
'He brings enthusiasm and boundless energy to whatever repertoire he tackles. Apt registrations, dexterous clarity, and phrase-making metrical verve i ...» More
|Organ Fireworks, Vol. 13|
Christopher Herrick continues the Scandinavian leg of his endlessly popular Organ Fireworks series with a disc of music performed on the great organ of Västerås Cathedral in Sweden. The programme is, as ever, a tempting potpourri of pieces from ar ...» More
|Organ Fireworks, Vol. 8|
'Familiarity still does not diminish the wonder of such outstanding playing. The organ makes a glorious noise … An outstanding example of imagina ...
'Again, Herrick’s playing is exemplary, and the organ is superb' (Choir & Organ)» More
'A lasting souvenir of a moving occasion, a fitting tribute to a great man, but above all, fine listening' (Gramophone)» More
|The Feast of Saint Peter the Apostle at Westminster Abbey|
Another fascinating collection from Westminster Abbey, recreating a particular liturgical event. This disc contains music one might hear if visiting the Abbey on its patronal feast, that of St Peter the Apostle. The programme broadly follows the s ...» More
|Hyperion monthly sampler – October 2014|
|Fugue sur le thème du Carillon des Heures de la Cathédrale de Soissons, Op 12John Scott (organ)» More|
|Messe Cum jubilo, Op 11Westminster Cathedral Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor)» More|
|Notre Père, Op 14Westminster Cathedral Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor)» More|
|Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d'Alain, Op 7John Scott (organ)» More|
|Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d'Alain, Op 7Christopher Herrick (organ)» More|
|Prélude sur l'Introit de l'Épiphanie, Op 13John Scott (organ)» More|
|Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le thème du 'Veni Creator', Op 4John Scott (organ)» More|
|Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le thème du 'Veni Creator', Op 4Christopher Herrick (organ)» More|
|Quatre Motets sur des thèmes grégoriens, Op 1Corydon Singers, Matthew Best (conductor)» More|
|Quatre Motets sur des thèmes grégoriens, Op 1Westminster Cathedral Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor)» More|
|Requiem, Op 9Corydon Singers, English Chamber Orchestra, Matthew Best (conductor)» More|
|Requiem, Op 9Westminster Cathedral Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor)» More|
|Requiem, Op 9Westminster Abbey Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor)» More|
|Scherzo, Op 2John Scott (organ)» More|
|Suite pour orgue, Op 5John Scott (organ)» More|
|Domine Jesu Christe|
|Fugue sur le thème du Carillon des Heures de la Cathédrale de Soissons, Op 12 (Duruflé)|
|Messe Cum jubilo, Op 11 (Duruflé)|
|Notre Père, Op 14 (Duruflé)|
|Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d'Alain, Op 7 (Duruflé)|
|Prélude sur l'Introit de l'Épiphanie, Op 13 (Duruflé)|
|Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le thème du 'Veni Creator', Op 4 (Duruflé)|
|Quatre Motets sur des thèmes grégoriens, Op 1 (Duruflé)|
|Requiem, Op 9 (Duruflé)|
|Scherzo, Op 2 (Duruflé)|
|Suite pour orgue, Op 5 (Duruflé)|
|Tota pulchra es|
|Tu es Petrus|
|Ubi caritas et amor|