Vingt-quatre Pièces en style libre
by Louis Vierne
List of Pieces
Background and General Perspectives
Norbert Dufourcq considered the Vingt-quatre piѐces en style libre to be "perhaps Vierne's most beautiful works." They were influenced by Franck's L'Organiste and Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier and consist of one work for each of the major and minor keys. They are published in two books that contain 12 pieces each, for harmonium or organ. They are generally of medium difficulty and are useful for illustrating principles of manual and pedal technique, as well as learning about French registration practices. These suites are a good introduction to the style of Vierne.
Although some of the pieces have harmonium registration indicated, it is generally thought that Vierne intended the pieces to be for organ. Many of the works take no regard for the break in the divided keyboard. In addition, it is known that Vierne disliked the harmonium. He described it as being a "'big nasal accordion' and a 'pitiful caricature of the pipe organ.'"
According to Vierne, the registrations and tempos indicated are suggestions. The performer should take into account the instrument to be performed on and use discretion and good taste when considering factors regarding registration and tempo.
Chromaticism: Vierne usually does not have an ascending or descending chromatic line in the highest voice, but it can often be found in the other voices. It is not uncommon to have a chromatic scale of an octave or more in a harmonizing voice. Sometimes a second voice takes up a chromatic line after a different voice began it (as in Vingt-quatre piѐces en style libre, Volume II, p. 3, mm. 2-6).
The term ""Free style" denotes a freedom of expression, on the order of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words or Chopin's Preludes, rather than a more formal fugal or sonata form. In improvisation, the French distinguish between themes to be used as fugue subjects and free themes to be developed in any way the performer wishes, either formally or as a free fantasy."
The most technically demanding of the 24 piѐces are:
No. 11 - Divertissement, No. 14 - Scherzetto.
No. 24 - Postlude, No. 21 - Carillon, No. 23 - Epithalame
The easier piѐces are:
No. 10 - Reverie No. 15 - Arabesque No. 13 - Legende No. 19 - Berceuse
Piѐces that exemplify Vierne's chromatic style:
No. 22 - Elegie No. 23 - Epithalame
The naivete (non-chromatic) piѐces are:
No. 5 - Prelude No. 9 - Madrigal No. 17 - Lied
Piѐces with freshness and spontaneity of familiar improvisations are:
No. 1 - Preambule No. 9 - Madrigal No. 11 - Divertissement No. 18 - March funebre No. 24 - Postlude No. 20 - Pastorale
Vierne taught the piѐces in the following order (note that the technically easier ones are not always easier to interpret):
No. 10 - Reverie No. 3 - Complainte No. 7 - Meditation No. 4 - Epitaphe No. 1 - Preambule No. 8 - Idylle Melancolique No. 2 - Cortege No. 9 - Madrigal No. 12 - Canzona No. 5 - Prelude No. 6 - Canon No. 17 - Lied No. 15 - Arabesque No. 19 - Berceuse No. 20 - Pastorale No. 13 - Legende No. 21 - Carillon No. 14 - Scherzetto No. 16 - Choral No. 18 - Marche funebre No. 23 - Epithalame No. 22 - Elegie No. 24 - Postlude No. 11 - Divertissement
Scores and Editions
Durand, Masters Music Publications
See the footnote in the "Notes" section at the bottom of the page 
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- Rollin Smith, Louis Vierne: Organist of Notre Dame Cathedral, 532. The Complete Organ No. 3. Hillsdale, New York: Pendragon Press, 1999.
- John Longhurst, A Pedagogical Study of the Piѐces de Fantaisie and Vingt-quatre piѐces en style libre, John Longhurst, accessed February 2014.
- Rollin Smith, Louis Vierne: Organist of Notre Dame Cathedral, 536-37. The Complete Organ No. 3. Hillsdale, New York: Pendragon Press, 1999.
- Rollin Smith, Louis Vierne: Organist of Notre Dame Cathedral, 531. The Complete Organ No. 3. Hillsdale, New York: Pendragon Press, 1999.
- This footnote was entered in the "Scores and Editions" article.
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