Music for Trinity Sunday — June 4, 2023

Fugue sur le thème du Carillon des heures de la Cathédrale de Soissons (Op. 12) – Maurice Duruflé

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Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986) was a French composer, organist, musicologist, and teacher affiliated with the Paris Conservatoire for fifty years, beginning in 1920 when he entered the organ class, and ending in 1970 when he resigned as professor of harmony. As a composer, he was notoriously perfectionistic, and as a result only a small number of his compositions have been published. He has taught and influenced many generations since, including Daniel Roth (current organiste titulaire at St Sulpice, Paris), who was in Duruflé’s 1962 harmony class.

Duruflé composed this rather atypically structured fugue – the organ postlude this Sunday in church – based on the hourly chime of the Soissons Cathedral carillon for his friend Henri Doyen, who was the organist in Soissons. The fugue subject is accompanied throughout by free counterpoint, and some subject entries are heard in augmentation and in stretto.

Oscar Smith