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Marcel Dupré

(1886-1971)

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- Queens Hall, London, 1926-27

- St. Mark's Church, London, 1948

Born at Rouen into a musical family Marcel Dupré was a child prodigy. His father Albert Dupré was organist in Rouen and a friend of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll who built an organ in the family house when Marcel was 14 years old. Having already taken lessons from Alexandre Guilmant he entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1904 where he studied with Louis Diémer and Lazare Lévy (piano), Guilmant and Louis Vierne (organ), and Charles-Marie Widor (fugue and composition). In 1926 he was appointed professor of organ performance and improvisation at the Paris Conservatoire - a position he held until 1954.

 

Dupré became famous for performing more than 2000 organ recitals throughout Australia, the United States, Canada, and Europe which included a recital series of 10 concerts of the complete works of Bach in 1920 (Paris Conservatoire) and 1921 (Palais du Trocadéro), both performed entirely from memory. The sponsorship of an American transcontinental tour by the John Wanamaker Department Store interests rocketed his name into international prominence. Dupré's "Symphonie-Passion" began as an improvisation on Philadelphia's Wanamaker Organ.

 

Succeeding Widor in 1934 as titular organist at St. Sulpice in Paris Dupré retained this position for the rest of his life; thus it happened that since Widor had been there for more than six decades the position changed hands only once in a century. From 1947 to 1954 Dupré was director of the American Conservatory which occupies the Louis XV wing of the Château de Fontainebleau near Paris. In 1954 after the death in a road accident of Claude Delvincourt Dupré became director of the Paris Conservatoire; but he held this post for only two years before the prevailing national laws forced him to retire at the age of 70. He died in 1971 in Meudon (near Paris).
(From Wikipedia)
 

A note on the recordings:

Marcel Dupré in Queens Hall - 1926-27

These recordings made in Queens Hall, London in 1926 and 1927 are probably some of his earliest recordings. Marcel Dupré marked in many ways the “modern” way of playing and he was immensely popular everywhere he played and most definitely also in England.
 

These recordings are important for several reasons. First of all they document the organ at the old Queens Hall before the destruction in 1941 – the organ was first build in 1893 by Hill then later rebuilt in 1923 to what extent I don’t know. Queens Hall was at the center of music in England and the history of the hall is very interesting – please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen's_Hall

Secondly they in my opinion represent the best of Marcel Dupres' playing. They have vitality and elegance – the gem in this release is the Clerambault where his style, touch, and ornaments is very fluent and elegantly shaped.

 

HMV was, as far as I know, the first European record company who seriously made organ recordings from 1925 when it became possible to record the organ due the implementation of the microphone in the recording process. I think it was due to the fact that many of the organists in England were very popular to the people in general. The many concert hall organs popularised the organ and organ music and many organists could fill concert halls with an enthusiastic audience. So in England were a broad marked for selling organ recordings. A lot of these recordings are, taken the age in consideration, of very high quality and the sound is remarkably clear. One easily forgets that the recordings are over 80 years old.

I would like to thank the now closed blog “78 toeren en LP's” for this release.

St. Mark's Church, London, 1948

I'm a little unsure of the recording dates for all of these recordings but the Bach BWV543 and the Franck A-minor chorale were recorded in spring 1948 and since the rest of the recorded material matches these two pieces in repertoire and the sound quality, and knowing from other recording sessions with Marcel Dupré that he almost never played any mistakes and therefore recorded quickly, I assume that all of the St. Mark's Church-recordings were recorded in the same period - perhaps even in the same session. The organ in Saint Mark's Church in North Audley Street in London may not ideally be suited for the french repertoire but history shows that HMV frequently used it for organ recordings in that period, e.g. Jeanne Demessieux also recorded on this organ.