Singers.com

In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument

Home | Doo Wop | Barbershop | World | Contemporary | Christian | Vocal Jazz | Choral | Christmas | Instructional | Arrangements

Maurice Durufle Biography

Maurice Durufle

Click Here for Arrangements, Compositions and Recordings

Born: 1902. Died: 1986. Lived in: France

The French composer, organist, and pedagogue, Maurice Durufle, became in 1912 chorister at the Rouen Cathedral Choir School, where he studied piano and organ with Jules Haelling. At age 17, upon moving to Paris, he took private organ lessons with Charles Tournemire (whom he assisted at Ste-Clotilde until 1927), Guilmant and Vierne. In 1920 Durufle entered the Conservatoire de Paris, where he took courses in organ with Gigout (Premier Prix, 1922), harmony with Jean Gallon (Premier Prix, 1924), fugue with Caussade (Premier Prix, 1924), and composition with Ducas (Premier Prix, 1928). He graduatied with first prize also in piano accompaniment.

In 1927, Louis Vierne nominated Maurice Durufle as his assistant at Notre-Dame. Durufle became titular organist of St. Etienne-du-Mont in Paris in 1929, a position he held for the rest of his life. In 1939, he premiered Francis Poulenc's Organ Concerto (the Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani in G minor); he had advised Poulenc on the registrations of the organ part. In 1943 he became professor of harmony at the Conservatoire de Paris, where he worked until 1970. In 1947, Durufle wrote what is probably the most famous of his very few pieces: the Requiem Op. 9, for soloists, choir, organ and orchestra. The same year, Marie-Madeleine Chevalier became his assistant at St-Etienne-du-Mont. They married in 1953. The couple became a famous and popular organ duo, going on tour together several times throughout the sixties and early 1970's.

Maurice Durufle suffered severe injuries in a car accident in 1975, and as a result he gave up performing; indeed he was largely confined to his apartment, leaving the service at St-Etienne-du-Mont to his wife Marie-Madeleine (who was also injured in the accident).

As a composer, Maurice Durufle was extremely self-critical. He only published a handful of works and often continued to edit and change pieces after publication. For instance, the Toccata from Suite, Op. 5 has a completely different ending in the first edition than in the more recent version, and the score to the Fugue sur le nom d'Alain originally indicated accelerando throughout. The result of this perfectionism is that his music, especially his organ music, holds a very high position in the repertoire. His best known compostions are a Requiem (1947) and a Mass (1967)