Practical Aspects of Teaching Tournemire’s Improvisatory Style
“A musician who possesses the ability to create spontaneously…the sonorous monument establishes as he/she goes along … with logic and fantasy sometimes, the illusion of something written and in the inspired moments—the flashes which belong only to this manifestation coming from the head and the heart. “ This quote from Tournemire’s Précis d’éxécution, de registration et d’improvisation à l’orgue introduces his esthetic of improvisation. This research paper explores practical aspects of Tournemire’style of improvisation and approach to teaching. I use recorded examples to show: Introduction to Variae Preces; Tournemire’s harmony; Improvisation of an Offertoire; a Sortie (Postlude); and a Communion.
Ann Labounsky, Ph.D., FAGO, Ch.M., is chair of Organ and Sacred Music at Duquesne University, where she oversees undergraduate and graduate programs in sacred music. An active member of the American Guild of Organists, the National Pastoral Musicians, and the Church Music Association of America, she has worked as director of the National Committee on Improvisation and Councillor for Education for the Guild. Author of a biography of Langlais, Jean Langlais: the Man and His Music, she has recorded the complete organ works of Langlais for the Musical Heritage Society, recently released on Voix de Vent Recordings, and recently narrated and performed in a DVD of his life based on this biography, a project sponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of the Guild.