Marcel Dupré

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French organist, composer, teacher, editor

  • 1886 born in Rouen, France
  • 1904 began formal study at the Paris Conservatory
  • 1907 received first prize for Organ
  • 1909 received first prize for Fugue
  • 1920 performed over ten recitals, playing the complete organ works of Bach from memory
  • 1926-1954 professor of organ performance and improvisation at Paris Conservatory
  • 1934-1971 titular organist at Sainte-Sulpice in Paris
  • 1971 died in Meudon (Near Paris), France
  • A student of Guilmant, Vierne, and Widor
  • Became famous as an improviser and composer in a French symphonic style
  • Some of his most famous compositions began as concert improvisations
  • He performed more than 2000 concerts, including ten tours in the United States
  • "His organ technique was considered formidable in his day"[1]


Born in 1886 to a family of musicians, Marcel Dupré was immersed in music early in life. He was admitted to the Paris Conservatory in 1904, studying with Guilmant, Diémar, and Widor. He received first prize in three contests there – fugue, organ, and composition. In 1916 he was appointed interim organist at the great Notre Dame Cathedral. In 1926 he returned to his Alma Mater, this time as a professor of organ. He succeeded his former teacher Widor as the organist of St. Sulpice in 1934, where he remained until his death in 1971.

Throughout his life Dupré performed and taught extensively­, including ten concert tours to the United States. Dupre had an excellent memory, and in 1920 performed the complete works of Bach by memory in a ten-concert recital series.[2] He was even appointed General Director of the American Conservatory in 1947. Many of Dupré’s own compositions have overt pedagogical purposes. For example, both the Tombeau de Titelouze and the 79 Chorales use chorale and chant tunes found in the works of other composers (Titelouze and JS Bach), and are meant to be introductions to that music.

Dupré's compositions develop from his extraordinary improvisations. For example, his Symphonie-Passion was first improvised in 1921 on the Wanamaker organ in Philadelphia. It was not written down and performed until three years later, at the Westminster Cathedral. Dupré's compositions reflect the trend towards concert repertoire, rather than liturgical pieces.

Representative Works

  • Preludes and fugues
  • Organ Symphonies

For details, see the Wikipedia article on Marcel Dupré.

List of Organ Works

Click to sort by opus number, title, or year of composition or publication
Opus Title Year
Prière en sol majeur (Prayer in G major 1895
Fugue en ut majeur (Fugue in C major) 1895
Fugue en la mineur (Fugue in A minor) 1901
Fugue en fa majeur (Fugue in F major) 1900
Dans la Gloire des Invalides
Op. 7 3 Préludes et fugues 1912
Op. 16 Scherzo en fa mineur 1918
Op. 18 15 Versets... 1919
Op. 19 Cortège et litanie 1921, 1923, 1925
Op. 20 Variations sur un Noël 1922
Op. 21 Suite Bretonne 1923
Op. 23 Symphonie-Passion 1924
Op. 24 Lamento in B♭ mineur 1926
Op. 26 Symphony No. 2 in C♯ minor 1929
Op. 27 7 Pièces 1931
Op. 28 79 Chorales 1931
Op. 29 Le Chemin de la croix, 14 Stations 1931
Op. 32 3 Élévations 1935
Op. 34 Angélus 1936
Op. 37 Évocation, Poème symphonique 1941
Op. 38 Le Tombeau de Titelouze 1942
Op. 39 Suite en fa mineur 1944
Op. 40 Offrande à la Vierge 1944
Op. 41 3 Esquisses (3 Sketches) 1945
Op. 43 Paraphrase sur le Te Deum 1945
Op. 44 Vision, Poème symphonique 1947
Op. 45 8 Petits préludes sur des thèmes grégoriens 1948
Op. 46 Miserere Mei 1948
Variations sur «Il est né le divin Enfant», Offertoire 1948
Épithalame 1948
Op. 47 Psaume XVIII, Poème symphonique 1949
Op. 48 6 Antiennes pour le temps de Noël 1952
Op. 50 24 Inventions 1956
Op. 51 Triptyque 1957
Op. 54 Nymphéas 1959
Op. 56 Annonciation, 2 Méditations 1961
Op. 57 Choral et fugue 1962
Op. 58 3 Hymnes 1963
Op. 59 2 Chorales 1963
Op. 61 In Memoriam, 6 Pièces pour orgue «à ma fille» (Marguerite) 1965
Méditation 1966
Op. 62 Entrée, Canzona et Sortie 1967
Op. 63 4 Fugues modales 1968
Op. 64 Regina coeli 1969
Op. 65 Le Vitrail de St. Ouen 1969
Op. 65b Souvenir 1965

Background and General Perspectives on Performing Dupré Organ Works

"Dupré's harmonic style was based upon early Twentieth-century common-practice harmonic style, with occasionally -added sixths and ninths that sometimes suggest elements of quartal harmony. His harmonic progressions were enriched by a delightfully unpredictable angularity that continue to make his style sound fresh and inviting, and certianly distinctly late Twentieth-Century to today's listener."[3]

Registration and Organs

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See the footnote in the "Notes" section at the bottom of the page. [4]

Fingering and Pedaling

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Articulation and Phrasing

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Tempo and Meter

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Scores and Editions

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Other Resources

"Marcel Dupre': The Man and His Music." B. The Musical Times, Vol. 61, No. 934 (Dec. 1, 1920), pp. 814-816.

Marcel Dupré, the work of a master organist. Murray, Michael 1943 March 19, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1985, xxv, 259 p.: ill.; 25 cm., English. ML 416 .D83 M9 1985

The organ works of Marcel Dupré. Steed, Graham. Hillsdale, N.Y.: Pendragon Press, 1999, xviii, 271 p.: ill.; 24 cm., English. MT 145 .D76 S73 1999

Recollections. Dupré, Marcel 1886-1971. Melville, N.Y.: Belwin-Mills Pub. Corp, 1975, xiv, 162 p.: ill.; 23 cm., English. ML 410 .D947 A33


  1. Biographical information found prior to the preface in Dans la Gloire des Invalides, Wayne Leupold edition.
  2. Rollin Smith, Louis Vierne: Organist of Notre Dame Cathedral, 161. The Complete Organ No. 3. Hillsdale, New York: Pendragon Press, 1999.
  3. Biographical information found prior to the preface in Dans la Gloire des Invalides, Wayne Leupold edition.
  4. This footnote was entered in the "Registration and Organs" article

This space is for automatic insertion of footnotes. To enter a footnote from anywhere in the article, start by typing the tag <ref> and then enter the text, and type the tag </ref> to end the footnote. The footnote will then appear in this "Notes" section automatically.