Maurice Duruflé at an organ console.

Earpiece #24: Robert Shaw conducts Duruflé’s “Requiem”

Mark Gresham | 11 JAN 2023

Earpiece is a series of audio and video presentations curated by EarRelevant’s publisher and principal writer Mark Gresham.

Born January 11, 1902, in Louviers, French organist, composer, and teacher Maurice Duruflé was noted for his perfectionism, thus his small catalog of high-quality compositions.

From age 10 to 16, Duruflé was a chorister at the Rouen Cathedral Choir School, where the choral plainsong tradition strongly influenced him. Upon moving to Paris at age 17, he began organ lessons with Charles Tournemire and entered the Conservatoire de Paris the following year. Duruflé assisted Tournemire at Basilique Ste-Clotilde, Paris, until 1927, when Louis Vierne nominated him as his assistant at Notre-Dame.

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Although he had become the titular organist of St-Étienne-du-Mont in Paris in 1929, when Vierne died at the console of the Notre-Dame organ in 1937, Duruflé was at his side, acting as his assistant. Duruflé retained the position at St-Étienne-du-Mont until his death in 1986.

Maurice Duruflé in 1939.

Maurice Duruflé in 1939.

In 1947 Duruflé completed the most famous of his compositions, the Requiem, Op. 9, for soloists, choir, organ, and orchestra.

In honor of Duruflé’s birthday, Earpiece offers here the recording of his Requiem by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Robert Shaw, made for the Telarc label CD-80135, and released in 1987, with soprano Judith Blegen and bass James Morris as soloists. The CD, which paired Duruflé’s Requiem with that of Gabriel Fauré, won a 1988 Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording, Classical.

View the video playlist below. Note: YouTube videos are embedded in accordance with the YouTube TOS.


DURUFLÉ: Requiem, Op. 9
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Roibert Shaw conductor; Judith Blegen, soprano; James Morris, bass.
I. Introit
II. Kyrie eleison
III. Offertory (Domine Jesu Christe)
IV. Sanctus and Benedictus
V. Pie Jesu
VI. Agnus Dei
VII. Communion (Lux aeterna)
VIII. Libera me
IX. In paradisum
Duration: 38:25
Telarc CD-80135 (1987)
Uploaded to YouTube by Universal Music Group.

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About the author:
Mark Gresham is publisher and principal writer of EarRelevant. he began writing as a music journalist over 30 years ago, but has been a composer of music much longer than that. He was the winner of an ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for music journalism in 2003.