Marcel Dupré

French Born 03 May 1886 Died 30 May 1971

Born in Rouen, Marcel Dupré was appointed organist at St Vincent at the age of 12.  Enthused by the instrument, he discussed organ construction at length with local experts.  Inspired by his teacher Guilmant, he learned to improvise in a fugal style, and he continued to study under him at the Paris Conservatoire where he was also taught by Vierne and Widor.  Classification as unfit to serve during the First World War provided him with the time needed to learn the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach, which he performed in 1920 - the first performer to achieve such a feat. 

Dupré toured extensively, particularly in the USA, and gave over 1900 concerts.  In New York he improvised a 'symphony' for solo organ, which later became his Symphonie-Passion Op. 24 (1924).  Dupré used this compositional technique frequently, passing on his love of extemporisation to his pupils Jehan Alain and Olivier Messiaen.  Messiaen also adopted other aspects of Dupré's style - rapid sequences of chords, staccato playing and polymodality.  For Dupré this was all bound up in a basic tonal structure, but his years teaching at the Paris Conservatoire opened up many possibilities for a new generation of organists.

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