In memoriam Michel Chapuis

November the 17th on Organroxx Radio

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Michel Chapuis (15 January 1930 – 12 November 2017) was a French classical organist and pedagogue. He was especially known as an interpreter of the French and the German Baroque masters and dedicated to historically informed performances. 

Chapuis was born in Dole, Jura, France, and had his early training there, on the organ of the Cathedral of Dole. In 1943, he studied the piano with Émile Poillot in Dijon. In 1945 came his first serious study of the organ with Jeanne Marguillard, organist of the Besançon Cathedral. He then studied at the École César Franck in Paris under René Mahlherbe (composition) and Édouard Souberbielle (organ). He had further studies with Marcel Dupré at the Conservatoire de Paris and won prizes in organ and improvisation in 1951 (the Prix Périlhou et Guilmant).

Chapuis was organist for the Paris churches of St. Germain l'Auxerrois 1951-54 and St. Nicolas des Champs 1954-72, accompanied at Notre Dame 1955-64, and was titular organist of St. Séverin from 1964. He also toured widely as a concert artist. From 1956-79 he was Professor at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg, 1979-86 at the Besançon Conservatoire, and 1986-95 at the Paris Conservatoire. From 1996-2010, he was organist at the Versailles Royal Chapel.

During his lifetime, he performed every surviving piece of French organ music from the 17th and 18th centuries on the Cliquot organ of St. Nicolas des Champs.

He also produced numerous recordings matching early repertoire to historic instruments. His important recordings included the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach (1966), considered by many as one of the best recordings of this oeuvre.