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Michel Chapuis (15 January 1930 – 12 November 2017)

Michel Chapuis Organist (1930-2017) in memoriam

Michel Chapuis  born January 15, 1930 and died yesterday November 12, 2017. He was one of the Greats among the great organists of the world. He was known for his interpretations of French and German Baroque repertoire. He recorded extensively and introduced many around the world to some of the most important historic pipe organs in France and Germany. The sound quality of these recordings were excellent and Michel Chapuis’ playing extraordinary. 

Michel Chapuis began his study of music in 1943 at the piano. In 1945 he started organ studies with Jeanne Marguillard, organist of the Besançon Cathedral. He later studied with Marcel Dupré at the Conservatoire de Paris, winning prizes in organ and improvisation in 1951. He held positions at St. Germain l’Auxerrois 1951-54, St. Nicolas des Champs 1954-72, accompanied at Notre Dame Cathedral 1955-64, and was titular organist of St. Séverin from 1964. He also toured widely as a concert artist. From 1956-79 he was Professor at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg, 1979-86 at the Besançon Conservatoire, and 1986-95 at the Paris Conservatoire. From 1996-2010, he was organist at the Versailles Royal Chapel.

The very first organ LP I purchased as a kid was one Michel Chapuis recorded on several important organs all across Europe. The music was by Bach, Buxtehude, Daquin, Dandrieu and Clerambault. I could not get over Claude Daquin Noël étranger played on the Koenig Organ at Saint George’s Church. 

While on a Pipedreams tour with Michael Barone in May of 2004 I had the honor to meet him. I learned a few things I had not known.  His improvisations are among the most exquisite improvisations I have ever heard – it was a if he was reading from scores, but composed in his head, at that instant.  The company of younger lady friends, must have kept him very spry; his playing and improvisation were exceptional when we all met him. He played for us at the Royal Chapel at Versailles and the Church of Saint Christopher in Houdan. 

Michel Chapuis had a gift for music. 

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine et lux perpetua luceat ei.


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