Over the weekend, Joey Fala and I have been working on the repertoire which will be performed at the July 9th PipeWorks, the educational outreach program of the American Guild of Organists, which introduces the pipe organ to young people. Joey asked me to play something “flashy,” so I have decided to play Marcel Dupré’s “Fugue in G minor,” op. 7, no. 3.
It just so happens that we have been involved in “The Big Purge,” to clean up Carl’s church office and I have continued work on the music library. I came across an article from “The American Organist” magazine I had obviously saved, with the page turned to a story called, “Pipe Organs of the Rich and Famous: Marcel Dupré’s Residence Organ,” by Rollin Smith. I learned that Dupré played 94 recitals on his first American tour (1922-23) and his fee was $350 per recital (equal to $5,380 in 2011 according to the CPI Inflation Calculator). You multiply that times 94 concerts and he earned $505,720. The next year he played 111 recitals and he took $597,180). The third year he “only” played 42 recitals but raised his fee to $400 per recital (equal to $5,285 in 2011 dollars) and the gross was $16,800, equivalent to $221,999 in today’s dollars. In three tours, he grossed a huge sum of money, which did not take into account his European recitals or annual tours of England. I also cannot imagine playing that many concerts in such a short time!
Smith writes, “Small wonder that by 1925 he was in a position to purchase a villa in Meudon, a southwestern suburb of Paris, and to begin construction of a concert hall adjacent to the house . . . Not long after taking up residence, Dupré purchased the residence organ of his old teacher, Alexander Guilmant, whose own villa was just around the corner.” When Guilmant died, his 28-stop Mutin-Cavaillé-Coll organ was offered for sale to Dupré. It was inaugurated on Saturday, March 26, 1927, and the concert was attended by 300 persons, according to Smith. (I don’t know how they fit 300 people into that studio!)
Last summer, Carl and I traveled to France, he for the first time, and for me, 42 years since I was there as a student of Marcel Dupré. I sat down and played Dupré’s “Cortège et litanie” which I had studied with him. Believe me, it was a little eerie to think that so many years had passed since then and here I was, playing the same instrument that Dupré himself had played and on which I had taken lessons.
As I recall, he charged me $15 per lesson in those days, and I had three lessons a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) that summer. I think I remember Dupré telling me he gave me a break on the cost of lessons since I had traveled so far.
In any case, if you know a young person who would like to attend our PipeWorks program, please contact me as soon as possible. We already have 25 people registered!