Maurice Duruflé

September 2007
18 black and white illustrations
402 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC BIO004000, MUS050000, MUS001000

Maurice Duruflé

The Man and His Music

James E. Frazier

eBook for Handhelds
A new, deeply researched biography of the great French organist, who composed some of the best-loved works in the organ repertory -- and the masterful Requiem.
Maurice Duruflé: The Man and His Music is a new biography of the great French organist and composer (1902-86), and the most comprehensive in any language. James E. Frazier traces Duruflé's musical training, his studies with Tournemire and Vierne, and his career as an organist, church musician, composer, recitalist, Conservatoire professor, and orchestral musician. Frazier also examines the career and contributions of Duruflé's wife, the formidable organist Marie-Madeleine Duruflé-Chevalier.
Duruflé brought the church's unique language of plainsong into a compelling liaison with the secular harmonies of the modern French school (as typified by Debussy, Ravel, and Dukas) in works for his own instrument and in his widely loved masterpiece, the Requiem Op. 9 for soloists, chorus, organ, and orchestra.
Drawing on the accounts of those who knew Duruflé personally as well as on Frazier's own detailed research, Maurice Duruflé offers a broad sketch of this modest and elusive man, widely recognized today for having created some of the greatest works in the organ repertory -- and the masterful Requiem.

James E. Frazier holds advanced degrees in philosophy, organ, theology, and sacred music from St. Alphonsus College, Mt. St. Alphonsus Seminary, Hartt School of Music, the Yale University Divinity School, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. He served Episcopal churches in Hartford, Connecticut, and St. Paul, Minnesota, as organist and director of music. For ten years he was director of music for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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Table of Contents

Duruflé's Childhood and Early Education
Life at the Cathedral Choir School
Lessons with Charles Tournemire
Lessons with Louis Vierne
The Conservatoire Student
Duruflé's Distinctions
The Contested Successions at Notre-Dame and Sainte Clotilde
Duruflé's Peforming Career
The Orchestral Musician
The Poulenc Organ Concerto
Professor of Harmony at the Paris Conservatoire
Marie-Madeleine Chevalier
Overview of Duruflé's Compositions
Duruflé's Compositions: Their Genesis and First Performance
Duruflé's Role in the Plainsong Revival
The Vichy Commissions
The Requiem
The Musical History of Saint Étienne-du-Mont
The Organs at Saint Étienne-du-Mont
Duruflé as Organist and Teacher
Duruflé and Organ Design
The Church in Transition
The North American Tours
The Man Duruflé


A mine of information . . . a veritable tale of our times. MUSICAL TIMES [Andrew Thomson] Provides significant insight into Duruflé's works and the relatively secretive life he and his wife led. . . . Frazier's research is excellent. . . . An important contribution. CHOICE [Brian Doherty]

Frazier's exploration of arabesque in architecture and music and his treatment of musical luminosity are memorably insightful and reveal a thoughtful understanding of Duruflé's work. . . . An interesting and well-constructed view of Duruflé's world, and a highly informative text as well. CHOIR & ORGAN [Steven Plank]

A work of unprecedented scope and depth, . . . [Frazier's book] is a biography abundantly rich in detail; though it declines the tone of a hagiography, it is obviously a labor of love. . . . Frazier skillfully illuminates the contexts in which Duruflé's life unfolded . . . [and] Frazier's survey of Duruflé's compositions is particularly strong. . . . A special pleasure of the book is the chapter on [Duruflé's future wife, and a world-renowned organist,] Marie-Madeleine Chevalier . . . Frazier's book will no doubt stand as a defining work in Duruflé scholarship and nurture scholars of 20th-century French organ music for years to come. AMERICAN ORGANIST [Lawrence Archbold]

One of the best musical biographies I have read for many years: sound in musical and, for the most part, in historical judgment . . . , sympathetic without being sycophantic, and most gracefully written. Duruflé deserves no less. GRAMOPHONE [Roger Nichols]

[Frazier] sees Duruflé as a compelling figure, given over to the same foibles and doubts we all have. Frazier's ability to obtain primary sources lends credence to his observations. This is a superb work, one to be valued by music historians and organists alike. AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Jan/Feb 2008 [Donald Metz]

This substantial study . . . although sympathetic . . . is not a work of hagiography. . . .[The author argues that] the somewhat short-lived revival of Gregorian chant in the French church . . . [during] Duruflé's composing life was a happy coincidence from which music was the main beneficiary [notably through the widely beloved Requiem]. . . . The very considerable value of this book lies in its personal evaluation of a man whose personality is likely to remain something of a mystery but whose music has already transcended his life. TEMPO [Bret Johnson]

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