Maurice Duruflé

Maurice Duruflé, c.1962

Maurice Duruflé (French: [dyʁyfle]; 11 January 1902 16 June 1986) was a French composer, organist, and teacher.

Life and career

Duruflé was born in Louviers, Eure in 1902. He became 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 Basilique Ste-Clotilde, Paris until 1927. In 1920 Duruflé entered the Conservatoire de Paris, eventually graduating with first prizes in organ, harmony, piano accompaniment, and composition. His harmony professor was Jean Gallon.

In 1927, Louis Vierne nominated him as his assistant at Notre-Dame. Duruflé and Vierne remained lifelong friends, and Duruflé was at Vierne's side acting as assistant when Vierne died at the console of the Notre-Dame organ on June 2, 1937, even though Duruflé had become titular organist of St-Étienne-du-Mont in Paris in 1929, a position he held for the rest of his life. In 1936, he won the Prix Blumenthal.[1] 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 he completed probably the most famous of his few pieces: the Requiem op. 9, for soloists, choir, organ, and orchestra. He had begun composing the work in 1941, following a commission[2] from the Vichy regime. Also in 1947, Marie-Madeleine Chevalier became his assistant at St-Étienne-du-Mont. They married on 15 September 1953.[3] (Duruflé's first marriage to Lucette Bousquet, in 1932, ended in civil divorce in 1947 and was declared null by the Vatican on 23 June 1953.) The couple became a famous and popular organ duo, going on tour together several times throughout the sixties and early seventies.


Duruflé suffered severe injuries in a car accident on 29 May 1975,[3] 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). He died in Louveciennes (near Paris) in 1986, aged 84.


Duruflé was highly critical of his own composition. He published only 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, tends to be well polished, and is still frequently performed in concerts by organists around the world.


Organ solo

Chamber music

Piano solo

Piano for 4 hands

Two pianos

Orchestra works

Choral works

Miscellaneous works



  1. "Maurice Duruflé". Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  2. "Excerpts - Maurice Duruflé: The Man and His Music". Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  3. 1 2 "Marie-Madeleine DURUFLÉ, biographie". Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  4. Ebrecht has restored a recapitulative transition from the manuscript Durufle used to perform the premier in 1932 that is not in the published version. "Ebrecht Sicilienne" on SoundCloud.


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