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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)

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For this our third post of the Lenten organ series, we turn to an organist that had a supporting role in both of of our past two posts – Marcel Dupré.

Dupré is probably one of the most dominant French organists of the first half of the 20th century to have extensively recorded as an artist. In a lot of ways, that fact probably eclipses his accomplishments as a composer in his own right. Of course, in this post and playlist, we will make sure we cover both.

The anecdote I shared about Dupré introducing Messiaen to an organ for the first time is probably all we need to note about the pupil./teacher relationship between the two. Widor and Dupré also shared a similar pupil/teacher relationship.

Dupré entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1904, where he studied composition under Widor, and organ with Alexandre Guilmant and Louis Vierne.

As a performer, Dupré succeeded Charles-Marie Widor as titular organist at St. Sulpice in Paris, a post he held until his death on the Sunday of Pentecost, in 1971. Dupré became famous for performing more than 2000 organ recitals throughout Australia, the United States, Canada and Europe, which included a recital series of 10 concerts of the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach in 1920 and again in 1921, both performed entirely from memory.

In 1926, he was appointed professor of organ performance and improvisation at the Paris Conservatoire (a position he held until 1954). His list of pupils at the Conservatoire an at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau (1947-54) reads like a veritable who’s who of the instrument: brother and sister Alain (Jehan and Marie-Claire), Marie-Madeleine Chevalier-Duruflé, Pierre Cochereau, Virgil Fox, Jean-Jacques Grünenwald (who succeeded him at St-Sulpice), Jean Guillou, Jean Langlais, and of course Olivier Messiaen – and I skipped many names!

Artist, virtuoso and composer, Dupré may be viewed as a 'Paganini' of the organ - being a virtuoso of the highest order, he contributed extensively to the development of technique (both in his organ music and in his pedagogical works) although, like Paganini, his music is relatively unknown to musicians other than those who play the instrument for which the music was written.

Dupre’s musical catalog of over 80 works covers both secular, sacred/spiritual works for the organ, choir and chamber/orchestral forces.

About the playlist

We will hear Dupre play works from Bach, Widor and Handel, as well as in some of his own works. More of his works are presented by other organists. The selections include, of course, selections that are indicative of Dupre’s compositional style and works that are appropriate for the Lenten season.

As a bonus, I am also including what I believe is the best recording of Saint-Saens’ Symphony no. 3 (with Organ) ever made, featuring Dupre at the organ, supporting the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a vintage Mercury recording from the 1950’s under Paul Paray. One could argue that the DSO in those days sounded even more French than the Boston Symphony under Charles Munch!

From Wikipedia:

One of Paray's most renowned recordings, made in October 1957, is that of the Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 in C minor. The circumstances surrounding the recording were fortuitous. Paray had built the Detroit Symphony Orchestra into one of the world's most distinguished. Marcel Dupré, a friend and fellow student from childhood, was organist for the session. Dupré, as a young student, had pulled the organ stops for the composer Camille Saint-Saëns in a performance of the Symphony No. 3 in Paris, and the [Aeolian-Skinner] organ of Ford Auditorium in Detroit was well suited to the work. As well as being among the most authoritative readings of the work, the original analogue recording on the Mercury label remains an audiophile reference in vinyl [...].

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Recitative and Final from Organ Concerto in G Minor, Op.4, No.1 (HWV289)
Marcel Dupré plays the Suret organ at église Saint Rémy-Saint Avoir
(Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse, France)

Marcel DUPRE (1886-1971)
Cortège et litanie, op. 19, no.2 (Organ solo version))
Marcel Dupré plays the grand Cavaillé-Coll Organ at Église Saint-Sulpice (Paris, France)

Prélude and Fugue, for organ in G Minor, Op. 7, no.3
Philippe Delacour plays the Haerpfer Organ of Chateau-Salins (France).

Poème Héroïque, for organ, brass and percussion, Op.33
Empire Brass and Michael Murray playing the Aeolian-Skinner Organ at the Church of the Advent, Boston

"Carillon" from Sept Pieces, op. 27
Marcel Dupré plays the grand Cavaillé-Coll Organ at Église Saint-Sulpice (Paris, France)

Improvisation on a Given Theme (undated, after 1953)
Marcel Dupré plays the Genf AG organ at Fraumünster Cathedral, Zürich

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543
Marcel Dupré plays the Suret organ at église Saint Rémy-Saint Avoir
(Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse, France)

Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937)
"Salve Regina" from Organ Symphony no.2 in D Major, Op. 13, no. 2
Marcel Dupré plays the large Aeolian-Skinner organ in Saint Thomas NYC.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Finale section (Maestoso Allegro) from Symphony no.3 in C Minor, Op. 78 ('Organ')
Marcel Dupré plays the large Aeolian-Skinner organ at the Ford Auditorium in Detroit
Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Paul Paray
[Complete Performance]

Your Playlist:

March 23, 2012, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will be adding a new montage "Spring" to its Pod-O-Matic Podcast. Read our English and French commentary March 23 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.
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Updated Mar-20-2012 at 10:41 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Musicians , Composers , Recorded Music