Duruflé stands firmly in the line of French organist-composers that began with César Franck. He studied organ with Tournemire, Vierne, and Gigout and composition with Dukas at the Paris Conservatoire, where he received premier prix in organ, harmony, fugue, accompaniment, and composition. His list of compositions is quite short, although many of his works have entered the standard repertory. His setting of the Requiem, modeled to some extent on the Fauré, stands with the best. A traffic accident in 1975 curtailed his performing career and diminished his output even further. Even so, perfectionism plagued him. He prefered to rework scores, even after publication, rather than to create or complete new ones.
Duruflé's music consists of two strains: plainchant and the structural rigor of Dukas. His choral music is all based on plainchant for its themes. However, his individuality comes through in his modally-inflected harmonies and in the complete assurance of his craft. His orchestral music (only two scores) is less remarkable than his organ or choral catalogue, since it lies too close to Dukas, but it too shows tremendous skill. ~ Steve Schwartz