St Petersburg, Concert Hall

Dufay. Du Caurroy. Couperin. Marchand. Tournemire. Florentz. Messiaen

Evening of organ music

Guillaume Dufay. The songs Ce Jour de l’an voudray joye mener and Le Jour s’endort Transcription for organ by André Isoir
Eustache du Caurroy. Fantaisie in five parts after the song Une Jeune fillette
Louis Couperin. Two Fantaisies
Louis Marchand. The First Organ Book
Charles Tournemire. Paraphrase-Carillon (from the mass for the Feast of the Assumption)
Jean-Louis Florentz. Laudes Op. 5 (highlights). Prière pour délier les charmes. Chant des fleurs. Seigneur des Lumières
Olivier Messiaen. Two meditations from La Nativité du Seigneur (highlights). Les Bergers. Dieu parmi nous

The character of the Concert Hall’s organ

About the Concert Hall’s organ on the Mariinsky Media website


Guillaume Dufay (c. 1400–1474) was a Franco-Flemish composer who was greatly admired in music circles and famous not just in his own country and who regularly received tokens of attention and admiration from titled patrons of the arts including members of the Medici family.
In his youth he studied under Richard Loqueville and was a choirboy in the town of Cambrai. It is probable that it was in this town that the composer felt the influence of the new English music, something that is confirmed by his use of fauxbourdon (the parallel utilisation of voices in tercets and sextets) in one of the composer’s early masses.
Dufay discovered Italian music at the Papal Chapel where he served initially in Rome and subsequently in Florence and Bologna. During this period he had the opportunity to discover and learn in detail all about Italian music, listen to Italian singers and interact with a wide circle of musicians, which was without doubt subsequently reflected in his work. He did not, however, imitate them – the Italian images merely influenced the development of the composer’s melodic patterns. Dufay’s rich creative legacy includes masses, motets and chant settings – those polyphonic genres that were to prove typical for the Dutch school for a long time.


Eustache Du Caurroy (1549, Gerberoy – 1609, Paris).
At the age of twenty, Du Caurroy was a singer at Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.
He was the victor at three singing competitions, became sous-maоtre de la chapelle royale in 1578 and was made official composer of the royal chamber in 1595.
Du Caurroy diligently served three kings of France – Charles IX, Henri III and Henri IV, and thus had the honour of composing the famous Missa pro defunctis, performed by tradition at the splendid funerals of France’s kings.
Enjoying the patronage of the Church and enchanting his contemporaries, he was an extremely generously gifted man. Late in the reign of Louis XIII, le Père Mersenne confirmed that “Du Caurroy deserves our high regard thanks to the richness of his harmonies and counterpoint.”
Du Caurroy’s works, published both during his lifetime and posthumously, may divided into three groups: Church prayers (vocal and liturgical music in Latin), Meslanges (vocal music in French) and forty-two fantasies for three, four, five and six instruments.
The Instrumental Fantaisie, despite its name, is strict in terms of form and is split into sections in accordance with imitative counterpoint, and in one or several motifs. Du Caurroy’s fantasies are at the core of the genre’s international development, linking the 16th and 17th centuries and leading to the fugue.


Louis Couperin (c. 1626 –1661) was a French composer, organist and harpsichordist. The first prominent member of the renowned Couperin musical dynasty, he was born in small provincial town of Chaumes-en-Brie, the son of an organist at one of the town’s churches.
The young composer’s career was a critical success: by 1650 he was already well-known, becoming the protégé of Jacques Champion de Chambonnières, harpsichordist to the King of France, living in Paris and serving as the organist at the church of Saint Gervais and later played the viola da gamba at the French Court.
Louis Couperin was an extremely prolific composer, but his music has only survived in manuscript form as the composer died very young – he was thirty-five years old at the time of his death. His organ music was only discovered in the 1950s. The composer’s legacy of organ music comprises around seventy works, mainly fugues and arrangements of church hymns.



Louis Marchand (1669–1732) was a composer of the Versailles school, an organist and harpsichordist. From 1684 he executed the duties of the Cathedral in Nevers, and from 1698 in Paris. He served as the Court organist from 1708 to 1714.
Marchand was one of the finest French organists of his time. In 1717 Marchand was due to compete against Johann Sebastian Bach in Dresden, but on hearing his rival perform he was so stunned by his genius that he turned down the challenge to perform.
Louis Marchand composed the opera Piram et Thisbée, two volumes of works for the harpsichord and a volume of music for the organ.


The music of French composer and organist Charles Tournemire (1870 – 1939) is performed fairly often in Russia, though very little indeed is known about the man himself. Following the death of his teacher César Franck, Tournemire “inherited” the former’s instrument, becoming the organist at the Basilique Sainte-Clotilde in 1897. The grateful student’s pen also crafted a monograph about Franck. Charles Tournemire graduated in organ studies from the Paris Conservatoire in 1889. Starting in 1919 he taught the chamber music performance class there. Tournemire taught many dazzling organists and became the founding father of a legendary plethora of French improvisers. He himself also won great fame as an organist. In 1911 he travelled to Russia to perform a concert.
A contemporary of Debussy and Ravel, the composer was able to bring to life the ephemeral quality and harmonious fluidity of musical impressionism on the organ. Tournemire sought out unusual combinations of registers to reproduce the “soaring” acoustics of a cathedral space. Olivier Messiaen admitted that the mysterious and poetic sound of Tournemire’s organ drew his “dazzling admiration” each and every time.


A pupil of Olivier Messiaen, French composer Jean-Louis Florentz (1947–2004), like his teacher before him, had a particular attitude to birdsong and musical folklore. Having taken a course in the natural sciences and studied Arabic, the composer immediately began to display an inexhaustible interest in the traditions of non-European cultures (among them those of Africa and Polynesia). In the 1970s Florentz undertook over ten trips to Africa, intending to make a detailed study of African culture. In the early 1980s he worked at University College in Nairobi (Kenya, East Africa). From 1985 Florentz was a professor of ethnomusicology at the Conservatoire de Lyon, and from 1995 he was a member of France’s Académie des Beaux-Arts.
The influences of non-European traditions are significant in Florentz’ music, which to a great extent is reflected in its imagistic structure, although that is not all. In his triptych Le Livre du pacte de miséricorde, which consists of the Magnificat, Op. 3, the Laudes, Op. 5 and Requiem, Op. 7, the composer uses texts from the Qur'an and Ethiopian liturgy, while the music itself, thanks to Florentz’ particular treatment of rhythm, brings to mind the sounds of an African instrumental ensemble.


Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992) was a French composer, organist, improviser, theoretician and researcher and teacher as well as the recipient of numerous arts awards. His work stands out for its genre variety and the originality of the images. Messiaen is not only one of the most frequently performed composers of the present day. He has become a classic, a man who played a phenomenal role in the development of world music.
In his music, Messiaen basically ignored every new stylistic trend of his own time. His works typically have a deep content, sincerity, emotional depth and vivid individuality.
“I am not ashamed of being a romantic,” Messiaen once said, “These were great creators, they sang the praises of the beauty of nature, of the magnificence of the Divine. They were grandiose, and many of our contemporaries would have much to gain by being romantics”.

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