Vingt-quatre Pièces en style libre

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by Louis Vierne

List of Pieces[edit]

No. Title
1 Préambule
2 Cortège
3 Complainte
4 Epitaphe
5 Prélude
6 Canon
7 Méditation
8 Idylle mélancolique
9 Madrigal
10 Rêverie
11 Divertissement
12 Canzona
13 Lègende
14 Scherzetto
15 Arabesque
16 Choral
17 Lied
18 Marche funèbre
19 Berceuse
20 Pastorale
21 Carillon
22 Élégie
23 Epithalame
24 Postlude

Background and General Perspectives[edit]

Norbert Dufourcq considered the Vingt-quatre piѐces en style libre to be "perhaps Vierne's most beautiful works."[1] 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.[2]

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.'"[3]

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."[4]

The most technically demanding of the 24 piѐces are:

 No. 11 - Divertissement, 
 No. 14 - Scherzetto.

Less demanding:

 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[edit]

Durand, Masters Music Publications

See the footnote in the "Notes" section at the bottom of the page [5]


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Free Online[edit]

Groove Shark Recordings

Free Recording

Pay to Listen[edit]

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Other Resources[edit]

Replace this text with any information on other resources pertinent to performing these works


  1. Rollin Smith, Louis Vierne: Organist of Notre Dame Cathedral, 532. The Complete Organ No. 3. Hillsdale, New York: Pendragon Press, 1999.
  2. John Longhurst, A Pedagogical Study of the Piѐces de Fantaisie and Vingt-quatre piѐces en style libre, John Longhurst, accessed February 2014.
  3. Rollin Smith, Louis Vierne: Organist of Notre Dame Cathedral, 536-37. The Complete Organ No. 3. Hillsdale, New York: Pendragon Press, 1999.
  4. Rollin Smith, Louis Vierne: Organist of Notre Dame Cathedral, 531. The Complete Organ No. 3. Hillsdale, New York: Pendragon Press, 1999.
  5. This footnote was entered in the "Scores and Editions" article.

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