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Charles Tournemire

Charles Tournemire

(1870 - 1939)

French composer and organist, highly renowned for his improvisations. Tournemire was the youngest student of César Franck, and was soon to take up the organist's post at Sainte Clothilde – after Pierné's brief intervening tenure. His organ output is one of the largest, combining a deep concern for the Catholic liturgy with more personal traits. His massive cycle, L'Orgue Mystique, provides an elaboration on the appropriate plainchant for every Sunday of the Catholic liturgical year. His style is always deeply serious, making use of the chorale as did Franck, and extended ideas on sonority originating with Claude Debussy.

He was among the first composers to begin looking at modes from other cultures (notably India), and his music makes effective use of this polymodality. His music is thoroughly French in idiom, though he continued Franck's efforts to incorporate harmonic ideas from the great German composers of the period. Tournemire also composed eight symphonies, several oratorios, chamber music, piano music, and songs. ~ Todd McComb

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