Just this morning when I opened my email, I got a notification that today is Marcel Dupré‘s 126th birthday (May 3, 1886 – May 30, 1971) and it brought back memories of our trip to France, three years ago, and specifically, our visit to Meudon, Dupré’s home, where I had my organ lessons. You might be interested in reading my post about Dupré’s Cortège et Litanie which I played last All Saints Day. I also included a video of Dupré himself playing this piece in that post.
And a couple of days ago, I received a message from a person who “stumbled upon” my blog and wrote this: “My grandfather, Winslow Cheney, was one of those organists to memorize Bach’s works. He was a student of Marcel Dupré. If you do a google search you will find an article in The New Yorker from the 1930′s…..just thought you might find this interesting.”
I don’t think I ever told you the complete story of our visit to Meudon, so bear with me. Since that was going to be my first trip to France in 42 years, of course I wanted to go back to Dupré’s home where he had his organ studio and where I had taken lessons. I had the help of LCH parishioner Jean-Paul Klingebiel in writing a note in French to L’Association des Amis de l’Art de Marcel Dupré about my visit. When an agent wrote back and said he could meet me at the house on the 3rd of July, 2010, I dared not tell him that we would just be arriving from Honolulu that morning at 6:45 am! After a 20-hour flight, you can imagine how good I felt!
Here’s what I wrote in my post: We had allowed ourselves three hours to find his home, located in Meudon, just outside of Paris. I’m afraid we spent a lot of time taking metro after metro and going in circles. Finally we got on a bus to Gare Montparnasse, where we then took a regional train to this suburb city but wasted more precious time looking for the house on the wrong side of the train station.
We finally made it to 40 Boulevard Anatole France with about five minutes to spare, and what I never told you was that the agent from L’Association never showed up! it was only by pure coincidence that the homeowners came home from shopping. I explained to them in my very rusty French that someone was supposed to meet us, and it was over 40 years ago that I was a student of Dupré. The homeowner graciously took us inside the studio, turned the organ on and let me play. When Carl heard me play “Cortège et Litanie” he was absolutely amazed that I got through it without incident! Let me tell you, it was absolutely eerie playing that organ again after so many years!
That turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip, and it was only by pure luck that we got in to see the organ studio. I am also a very lucky person that I had the experience of studying with the “maître.”
So, joyeux anniversaire, monsieur Dupré!