- Saint-Eustache, Paris, 1945-50
André Marchal was a French organist and organ teacher. He was one of the great initiators of the organ revival in France.
Marchal was born blind. He studied the organ under Eugène Gigout at the Paris Conservatoire where in 1913 he won their premier prix. He also won the prix d' excellence for fugue and counterpoint in Caussade's class (his counterpoint teacher) in 1917.
He taught organ at Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris and was titular organist of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés (1915-1945) and Saint-Eustache (1945-1963), his resignation in 1963 being brought about over a conflict over the correct organ builder to be hired to restore Saint-Eustache's instrument.
He was an unparalleled improviser and was even recognized as such by Fauré. Among his students were many brilliant musicians like Louis Thiry or Jean-Pierre Leguay one of four titulaires des grands orgue of Notre-Dame de Paris.
As mentioned in the Wiki-text Marchal was one of the key figures of the French “Orgelbewegung”. His ideas were partly shaped by his teacher Eugene Gigout, who had already begun to teach and point his students toward these new ideas, so along with fellow organists like Joseph Bonnet they were part of the generation of musicians who had a growing interest in the classical and baroque music and organ building. His advocacy of the neoclassical style was to shape the future generation(s) of organ playing.
It’s quite interesting though, that his playing heavily relies on the romantic way of organ playing, with the legato style, long melodic lines and the use of register crescendo and extensive use of the swell box. Recorded somewhere between 1945-1950 we are able to hear the old Ducroquet organ of Saint Eustache.
A note on the recordings:
These recordings are published with permission from the apparently now closed ”The European Archive” from where digital transfers originates. The recording was first released on a LP released in France around 1945-1950 with André Marchal playing works by Johann Sebastian Bach in his church Saint Eustache in Paris.
The LP used for this transfer is, as far I can see, an American release of the French recording original done for the label Ducretet.