Murray, Michael 1943-
MURRAY, Michael 1943-
Born March 19, 1943, in Kokomo, IN. Education: Studied with Dorothy Cleveland Hopkins, 1958-59, Mallory Bransford, 1959-61, and Marcel Dupré (Paris, France), 1961-64; attended Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, 1961, and Butler University.
Musician and author. Shaker Heights Christian Church, Cleveland, OH, organist, 1967-80, music director, 1970-80. Concert organist, 1968—. Murray's performances are available on numerous recordings, including An Organ Blaster: The Best of Michael Murray and The Best of Bach, among others.
Marcel Dupré: The Work of a Master Organist, Northeastern University Press (Boston, MA), 1985.
Albert Schweitzer, Musician, Ashgate Publishing (Brookfield, VT), 1994.
Contributor to periodicals, including American Organist and Diapason.
One of the world's premier organists, Michael Murray studied in Paris under the legendary Marcel Dupré after attending the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. He made his New York City debut in 1986, and since then has recorded numerous organ recitals and was the first solo artist to be recorded by the Telarc label. He has hosted a radio program featuring a number of famous composers and written numerous articles of criticism and biography, as well as publishing a number of books on the great masters of the organ, including biographies of his mentor Dupré and on the musical side of Albert Schweitzer.
In Marcel Dupré: The Work of a Master Organist, Murray pays tribute to the man who taught him so much. "Murray was one of the youngest generation of Dupré's pupils," explained William J. Gatens in Music & Letters, "and he has written a highly ingratiating biography of the master, drawing from the expected primary and secondary sources as well as his own experiences and conversations," Along the way, the author provides a short history of the French musical scene at the turn of the twentieth century, a look at the birth of the Paris Conservatoire, and an analysis of the impact of the German occupation in the 1940s. The book also discusses the Romantic movement in music and the anti-Romantic reaction that set in during the 1930s and continued to gain strength up through the 1960s and 1970s.
Two reviewers of Marcel Dupré had surprisingly divergent reactions to Murray's work. While commending Murray for conducting the necessary interviews and readings, Times Literary Supplement contributor Roger Nichols wrote that, "beyond doing his duty in these respects he has not felt it necessary to give any real picture of the world of the Paris organist in general, still less of what was going on in that city outside the organ lofts." In contrast, Musical Times contributor Rosemary Porter found that the book "offers great insights into the French musical world of this era.… Contemporary cultural and political events are sewn into the fabric of the story to complete the picture." And Library Journal contributor Richard Belanger concluded that Marcel Dupré is a "commendable labor of love."
Murray turned next to a close colleague of Dupré, Albert Schweitzer, the other prized student of world-renowned organist and composer Charles-Marie Widor. For the vast majority of his life, Schweitzer was a missionary and physician, but the author reveals that there was a whole other side to this man's character. In Albert Schweitzer, Musician Murray describes Schweitzer's little-known but significant influence as a scholar, reformer, and writer on music, and as a master organist. Much of the work concerns Schweitzer's complicated reaction to the neo-Baroque movement of the early nineteenth century and his profound insights into the nature of Bach's music. Among other areas, Murray illuminates Schweitzer's impact on organ building and design. "This book is a labor of love and will be cherished by those who revere the memory of Albert Schweitzer," wrote Notes contributor Bruce Gustafson. "It will also be read keenly by organists interested in the aesthetics of organ building and playing in the first half of the twentieth century." Choice reviewer K. Thomerson remarked that "Murray does an excellent job of illuminating the man who said, 'The struggle for the good organ is to me a part of the struggle for truth.'"
Murray followed his biography of Schweitzer with a more ambitious group biography titled French Masters of the Organ: Saint-Saëns, Franck, Widor, Vierne, Dupré, Langlais, Messiaen. Usually, writers on this topic discuss either the instrument or the performer, but here "the author sensibly combines the two approaches, starting with a review of the life and work of the celebrated French organ-builder, Aristide Cavaille-Coll," noted Charles Mould in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History. This serves as a useful point of departure, for all seven of these performers came to fame using Cavaille-Coll's instruments, whether at Sainte-Clotilde, Saint-Sulpice, or Notre Dame. Murray also discusses the masters' divergent attitudes toward Bach, which formed two separate schools in the French Romantic movement, and the profound differences between Cavaille-Coll's early and later designs. "This is an excellent book—a joy to read and to handle, and with an exemplary index," concluded Times Literary Supplement contributor Richard Lawrence.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, October, 1985, K. Thomerson, review of Marcel Dupré: The Work of a Master Organist, p. 306; October, 1994, K. Thomerson, review of Albert Schweitzer, Musician.
Journal of Ecclesiastical History, October, 1999, Charles Mould, review of French Masters of the Organ: Saint Saëns, Franck, Widor, Vierne, Dupré, Langlais, Messiaen, p. 808.
Library Journal, July 1, 1985, Richard Belanger, review of Marcel Dupré, p. 74.
Music & Letters, October, 1987, William J. Gatens, review of Marcel Dupré, pp. 383-384.
Musical Times, July, 1987, Rosemary Porter, review of Marcel Dupré, p. 404.
Notes, March, 1996, Bruce Gustafson, review of Albert Schweitzer, Musician, p. 822; June, 1999, Benjamin Van Wye, review of French Masters of the Organ: Saint-Saëns, Franck, Widor, Vierne, Dupré, Langlais, Messiaen, p. 925.
Times Literary Supplement, February 20, 1985, Roger Nichols, "Pedalling Hard," p. 1459; March 26, 1999, Richard Lawrence, review of French Masters of the Organ.