Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Biographies of Poets & Composers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Bach & Other Composers

Maurice Duruflé (Composer, Arranger)

Born: January 11, 1902 - Louviers, Eure (Haute-Normandie), France
Died: June 16, 1986 - Louveciennes, near Paris, France


The French composer, organist, and pedagogue, Maurice Duruflé, 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 Duruflé 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 Duruflé as his assistant at Notre-Dame. Duruflé became titular organist of St. Étienne-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, Duruflé 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-Étienne-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 Duruflé 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-Étienne-du-Mont to his wife Marie-Madeleine (who was also injured in the accident).

As a composer, Maurice Duruflé 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)


Organ solo:
Scherzo, Op. 2 (1926)
Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le theme du 'Veni Creator', Op. 4 (1930)
Suite, Op. 5 (1932): Prélude, Sicilienne, Toccata
Prélude et Fuge sur le nom d'Alain, Op. 7 (1942)
Prélude sur l'Introït de l'Epiphanie, Op. 13 (1961)
Fugue sur le carillon des heures (help·info) de la Cathédrale de Soissons, Op. 12 (1962)
Méditation, Op. posth. (1964)
Lecture à vue (unpublished)
Fugue (unpublished)
Lux aeterna (unpublished)

Chamber music:
Prélude, Récitatif et Variations, Op. 3 for flute, viola, and piano (1928)

Piano solo:
Triptyque, Op. 1: Fantaisie sur des thèmes grégoriens (1927/1943, unpublished)
Trois Danses, Op. 6 (1932, piano version by the composer): Divertissement, Danse lente, Tambourin

Piano for 4 hands:
Trois Danses, Op. 6 (1932, transcribed by the composer): Divertissement, Danse lente, Tambourin

Two pianos:
Trois Danses, Op. 6 (1932, transcribed by the composer): Divertissement, Danse lente, Tambourin

Orchestra works:
Trois Danses, Op. 6 (1932): Divertissement, Danse lente, Tambourin
Andante et Scherzo, Op. 8 (1940)

Choral works:
Requiem, Op. 9 for soloists, choir, orchestra, and organ (1947; Version with Organ, 1948; Version with Orchestra, 1950; Version with small Orchestra, 1961)
Quatre Motets sur des Thèmes Grégoriens, Op. 10 for choir a capella (1960): Ubi caritas et amor, Tota pulchra es, Tu es Petrus, Tantum ergo
Messe Cum Jubilo, Op. 11 for baritone solo, male choir, and orchestra (1966; Version with Organ, 1967; Version with Orchestra, 1970; Version with small Orchestra, 1972)
Notre Père, Op. 14 for unison male choir and organ (1977; Version for 4-part mixed choir a capella, 1978)

Miscellaneous works:
Hommage à Jean Gallon (1953)
Sicilienne from Suite Op. 5 for small orchestra (flute, oboe, clarinette, bassoon, horn, and string quintet, unpublished)

J.S. Bach: 4 Chorale Preludes for Organ , orchestrated by M. Duruflé (1942/1945):
- Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (18 Chorales)
- Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein BWV 734
- O Lamm Gottes unschuldig BWV 656 (18 Chorales)
- In dir ist Freude BWV 615 (Orgelbüchlein)
Louis Vierne: Soirs étrangers Op. 56, for violoncello and piano, orchestrated by M. Duruflé (1943): Grenade, Sur le Léman, Venise, Steppe canadien, Poisson chinois
Louis Vierne: Ballade du désespéré Op. 61, poème lyrique for tenor solo and piano, orchestrated by M. Duruflé (1943)
Maurice Duruflé: Requiem Op. 9, for voice and piano (1947)
J.S. Bach: Two Chorales from Cantatas BWV 22 & BWV 147, arranged for organ solo by M. Duruflé (1952)
Louis Vierne: Trois Improvisations for organ (Notre-Dame-de-Paris, November 1928), transcribed by M. Duruflé (1954): Marche épiscopale, Méditation, Cortège
Charles Tournemire: Cinq Improvisations for organ (Ste. Clotilde, Paris, 1930/1931), transcribed by M. Duruflé (1956-1958): Petite rapsodie improvisée, Cantilène improvisée, Improvisation sur le "Te Deum", Fantaisie-Improvisation sur l'"Ave maris stella", Choral-Improvisation sur le "Victimae paschali"
Gabriel Fauré: Prélude de Pelléas et Mélisande , transcribed for organ solo by M. Duruflé
Robert Schumann: Lamentation, transcribed for organ solo by M. Duruflé

Source: Wikipedia Website; Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2007)

Maurice Duruflé: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings | Orchestral Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Maurice Duruflé (Wikipedia)
Maurice Durufle Memories
Maurice Durufle
Association Maurice et Marie-Madeleine DURUFLÉ
Maurice Durufle Biography (Naxos)

San Francisco Bach Choir: Maurice Duruflé
The Maurice Durufle Mp3 Page (Classic Cat)
Maurice Duruflé (
Maurice Duruflé (Musimem) [French]


Xavier Darasse. "Maurice Duruflé", in Guide de la musique d’orgue, edited by Gilles Cantagrel (Paris: Fayard, 1991: 335-337)
Ronald Ebrecht, ed. Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986): The Last Impressionist (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2002)
Jörg Abbing. Maurice Duruflé. Aspeckte zu Leben und Werk (Verlag Peter Ewers, 2002)
Frédéric Blanc: Maurice Duruflé. Souvenirs et autres écrits (Éditions Séguier-Atlantica, 2005)

Biographies of Poets & Composers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Bach & Other Composers


Back to the Top

Last update: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 08:07