Composer and virtuoso organist Maurice Duruflé is known for a select handful for exquisitely crafted works. Active in post-Impressionist Paris, Duruflé’s music is steeped in lush Ravelian harmonies, but at the same time, rooted in the plainchant of his beloved Catholic church. It makes for a heady mix.
Most notable works
Requiem, Op. 9 for soloists, choir, orchestra, and organ (1947)
Suite for organ, Op. 5 (1932)
A life in brief
1902 – Maurice Duruflé is born to a pianist mother and an architect father on 22 January in Louviers, France. He receives piano lessons from the age of five when his father recognises his talent.
1912 – He is sent to the Rouen Cathedral choir school to be a chorister under Jules Haelling, himself a pupil of composer Alexandre Guilmant, until 1918.
1919 – He moves to Paris after parting company with his organ teacher, Charles Tournemire. At the Conservatory he becomes lifelong friends with his teacher Louis Vierne. Ten years later he becomes organist of St-Etienne-du-Mont.
1938 – He gives the world premiere of Poulenc’s Organ Concerto. Four years later he is appointed professor of harmony at the Paris Conservatory.
1947 – He composes the Requiem in memory of his father’s death two years earlier. He meets organist Marie-Madeleine Chevalier, whom he marries in 1953. They perform regularly together at the organ.
1975 – Having long since abandoned composing in earnest, he and Marie-Madeleine are involved in a severe car accident, which leaves him mentally and physically incapable of further performing.
1986 – He dies on 16 June at the age of 84 in Paris. His last composition, Notre Père, written in 1977, is dedicated to Marie-Madeleine.