Death of an organ legend, 87

The great French organist Michel Chapuis died today.

He officiated at many of the important churches in Paris: at St. Germain l’Auxerrois 1951 to 54, St. Nicolas des Champs 1954 to 72, Notre Dame 1955 to 64, and St. Séverin from 1964.  From 1996 to 2010, he was organist at the Versailles Royal Chapel.

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  • This is sad. Chapius was not only a marvelous organist, he was also a sweet person. I spent an evening with him when I was a teenager. when I turned pages for a trumpet and organ recital he played with Maurice André. André stood right next to the organ console for the whole program, and it was interesting to hear the little asides that these two great artists whispered to each other throughout the whole concert. Chapius was a very colorful player who tried all sorts of wonderful fresh ideas in this music making, particularly with registration, choosing very interesting colors, particularly in Baroque music.

    • I learned about Michel Chapuis, first from hearing recordings he made on Compact Disc and Vinyl Long-Playing records, then more recently (early 1990s) from a video he made at The Royal Chapel at Versailles, in which he alternated between playing and being interviewed about his life and the music he loved. From that video, and then from all the tributes that have poured in since his death in November, 2017, the impression this lovely man has made on me (I never had the opportunity to meet and get to know him in person) has been exactly the same as yours, Alexander, that of a sweet, kind and unassuming man. Frederic Munoz, one of his students, was and is especially devoted to Monsieur Chapuis, and in addition to finding him to be an exemplary teacher, considered (considers him always) to have been like a second father to him. ALL THIS on top of Michel Chapuis’ wonderfully emotion-grabbing playing, of the very best sort, especially his from-the-heart improvisations. Totally soul-stirring. I have felt a great sadness since learning this lovely man is no longer with us, but it is gratifying that he lived a full and satisfying life, and left us a great legacy of recorded music. We can hear many of Michel Chapuis’s wonderful performances which Frederic Munoz, his student, recorded and has recently begun to post on YouTube.

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