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Paul Paray (1886 - 1979)

Paul Paray’s father, an ivory sculptor, was also an active musician, serving as organist of the Church of St Jacques, Le Tréport, and during the summer season as musical director of the town’s municipal band and Orphéon Theatre; he conducted major works such as Haydn’s Die Schöpfung and Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ with guest soloists from the Paris Opera. His mother was the sister of the Vicar General of Rouen, and both his elder brother and sister were accomplished musicians; all received their first music lessons from their father. When he was nine Paul joined his brother as a member of the choir of Rouen Cathedral, where he first met Marcel Dupré, his senior by three weeks. He became an excellent organist, pianist and cellist, and at the age of fourteen he composed his first Magnificat, which is still performed at Rouen Cathedral; by sixteen he had learnt almost the whole of J.S. Bach’s music by heart. Having become a protégé of Henri Dallier, organist of the Madeleine Church in Paris, Paray was helped by him to enter the Paris Conservatoire in 1904, where he studied harmony with Xavier Leroux and counterpoint and composition with Georges Caussade. He continued to play the piano, organ and cello as well as the timpani, and was awarded a premier prix for harmony and counterpoint. In 1911 he entered for the Prix de Rome, and was awarded first prize for his cantata Yanitza by a jury that included Fauré, Pierné,




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