Maurice Duruflé Biography (BBC)
Maurice Duruflé followed in the tradition of the French Romantic organist-composers at a time when Stravinsky and others were embracing 20th-century modernism.
He was born in Louviers, Normandy, and joined the choir school of Rouen Cathedral aged 10. At 17 he moved to Paris, studying with Tournemire and Vierne before entering the Paris Conservatoire in 1920. Here he was a pupil alongside Messiaen in Dukas’s composition class, and he left with a handful of premiers prix. He assisted Vierne at Notre-Dame from 1929 to 1931 and became organist at St Étienne-du-Mont in 1930. His finely crafted works often incorporate harmonisations of Gregorian chant, as in his Requiem (1947) and the Quatre motets sur des themes grégoriens (1960).
His organ music, especially the Suite, Op. 5 (1933), is regularly performed, though his two orchestral works – the early Trois danses, Op. 6, and an Allegro et scherzo, Op. 8 – are forgotten. An active performer, he premiered Poulenc’s Organ Concerto in 1939 and gave recital tours of the USA in 1964 and 1966, but was forced to stop playing in 1975 when injuries following a car accident largely confined
him to his bed.
Profile © Edward Bhesania
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