Magazine article The Tracker

Pierre Cochereau, Organist of Notre-Dame

Magazine article The Tracker

Pierre Cochereau, Organist of Notre-Dame

Article excerpt

Anthony Hammond, Pierre Cochereau, Organist of Notre-Dame. Eastman Studies in Music. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2012. 372 pp. ISBN 9781580464055, $85. Available from www.ohscatalog.org. This definitive biography of Pierre Cochereau is richly endowed with a wealth of materials exploring and explaining this brilliant musician's life and career. It is, first of all, an illuminating window into the French process of producing brilliant organists, composers, and improvisers. Surely, no one still thinks that improvisation is simply a Godgiven talent that some are born with and others can never attain. The truth is that almost any musician can be taught how to create passably decent improvisations. When the training is as thorough as organists such as Cochereau, Widor, Vierne, Franck, Langlais, etc. received, their real genius can fully express itself.

Anthony Hammond is an English concert organist, improviser, and musicologist who specializes in French Romantic and 20th-century organ music. His training has obviously also been thorough, and enables him to provide detailed descriptions of the many improvisations that Cochereau recorded, giving the careful reader an insight into how he shaped them.

There is also information about Cochereau as a teacher, and his work in rebuilding the Cavaillé-Coll organ at Notre-Dame. Purists will not be happy with many of the changes made to that instrument under his direction, but it is good to have a reasonably clear picture of what happened. …

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