Critical Reviews

This book is simply outstanding. Frazier provides us with excellent, comprehensive scholarship. We must here be looking at the standard work on Maurice Duruflé for many years to come.... What is particularly impressive about this study is the author's attention to detail.... [Duruflé's] significant achievement as student, performer, composer and teacher are almost understated, so rigorous is Frazier in charting the details of the composer's life and work. ...this is a superb book. It is well written, thoroughly researched, comprehensively produced. It has been a privilege as well as a pleasure to be able to read Frazier's work. It is possible to get to know Duruflé through it; and there are many sadnesses and disappointments logged there, but there is also a celebration, made with love and dedication, to a significant figure in twentieth-century French music.


A work of unprecedented scope and depth,...[Frazier's book] is a biography abundantly rich in detail; though it declines the tone of a hagiography, it is obviously a labor of love.... Frazier skillfully illuminates the contexts in which Duruflé's life unfolded...[his] survey of Duruflé's compositions is particularly strong.... A special pleasure of the book is the chapter on [Duruflé's future wife, and a world-renowned organist,] Marie-Madeleine Chevalier.... Frazier's book will no doubt stand as a defining work in Duruflé scholarship and nurture scholars of 20th-century French organ music for years to come.... While Frazier's text is certainly impressive, his scholarly apparatus is arguably even more so.

— AMERICAN ORGANIST [Lawrence Archbold]

Provides significant insight into Duruflé's works and the relatively secretive life he and his wife led....Frazier's research is excellent.... Frazier has written a book that makes an important contribution to the ongoing scholarship of Duruflé.

— CHOICE [Brian Doherty]

Frazier's exploration of arabesque in architecture and music and his treatment of musical luminosity are memorably insightful and reveal a thoughtful understanding of Duruflé's work.... An interesting and well-constructed view of Duruflé's world, and a highly informative text as well.

— CHOIR & ORGAN [Steven Plank]

One of the best musical biographies I have read for many years: sound in musical and, for the most part, in historical judgment... sympathetic without being sycophantic, and most gracefully written. Duruflé deserves no less.

— BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE [Roger Nichols]

[Frazier's] meticulous attention to detail and facts is outstanding.... Frazier makes Duruflé's life far more intriguing than the bare facts might suggest.... I find most significant Frazier's command of language. He writes not as some perpetually sequestered author, slaving away in a dark, dank attic somewhere jotting down every possible minute detail, but rather as one who presents Duruflé as a compelling figure, given over to the same foibles and doubts we all have. Frazier's ability to obtain primary sources lends credence to his observations. This is a superb work, one to be valued by music historians and organists alike.


This substantial study...although not a work of hagiography.... The very considerable value of this book lies in its personal evaluation of a man whose personality is likely to remain something of a mystery but whose music has already transcended his life.

— TEMPO [Bret Johnson]

Frazier's impressively detailed biography is more than a supplement to existing studies on the composer... [it] offers perceptive new insights into the personal life, as well as career, of this enigmatic and notoriously private composer, while placing his work in meaningful context.... Frazier demonstrates a sensitive understanding of twentieth-century French musical life. This is amplified by his detailed knowledge of developments and reforms within the French ecclesiastical establishment, including tensions that arose between clergy and musicians in the wake of Vatican II.... Among the most sensitive issues that continue to set cats among pigeons are the circumstances surrounding Duruflé's commission for the Requiem and his relationship with the Vichy government. Here Frazier treads a cautious path.... Of particular value in this book are the detailed discussions of Duruflé's concert programming as well as the instruments on which he played.

— MUSIC AND LETTERS [Caroline Rae]

...the book is scholarly but very easy to read and full of information and interesting details.


There are illuminating discussions of Duruflé's role in the revival of plainchant and his response to the Second Vatican Council's advocacy of vernacular music, and much rich detail on the glories of French organ-building and the less glorious history of French choral singing.


A mine of information.... a veritable tale of our times.

— THE MUSICAL TIMES [Andrew Thomson]

Dans cette excellente biographie de Maurice Duruflé, l'américain James Frazier...retrace rigoureusement la vie et l'oeuvre de Maurice Duruflé.

— L'ORGUE [Carolyn Schuster-Fournier]