A native of Rouen, Marcel Dupré (1886–1971) was among the most famous and widely travelled organists of his day. In 1934, some thirty years after becoming his assistant, he succeeded Widor as Organist of St-Sulpice, Paris, and from 1926 to 1954 he was Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatoire, whose Director he was from 1954 to 1956. His Trois Préludes et Fugues
, Op 7, were written in the summer of 1914, the year in which he won the Premier Grand Prix de Rome, but they were not published until after the war. They are memorial works, each dedicated to the memory of a French organist, and the third, in G minor, is dedicated to Joseph Boulnois, who was Organist of St-Louis d’Antin. Notwithstanding its fearful technical difficulties, it is among the best-known and most popular of Dupré’s works. In the prelude, a plainsong-like theme emerges dreamily from flutes’ gently mordant effervescence and later appears above rich and ingeniously engineered harmony. The subject of the virtuosic, compound-time fugue encapsulates the composer’s name in speech-rhythm. The prelude’s plainsong-like theme reappears, first on the pedals, where it unobtrusively underpins the manuals’ incessant activity, and towards the movement’s end, where it heroically surmounts massive chords whose terrific momentum derives from the pedals’ rendering of the subject. The final page, in which the notes hurtle towards the magnificent final cadence, places this among the most memorable of all fugues for organ.
from notes by Relf Clark © 2008