Esplanade Presents

Music | Talk

History of Improvisation in French Pipe Organ Music

Maurice Clerc (France)

29 Apr 2023, Sat, 2pm


(Intermission: None)

Esplanade Concert Hall Stage

This event is over.


An instrument that dates back to 300 BC, the organ was at first disapproved by medieval church leaders for its worldly and “sensually exciting sound”. Nonetheless, it eventually made its way into monasteries and churches. From the 14th through to the 19th centuries, organ-building became more advanced, allowing the instrument to possess its unique symphonic capabilities. Spurred by its symphonic possibilities and influenced by composers like Liszt and Wagner, 19th century organist-composers created a “new language” for the organ. Improvisations flourished at the hands of individuals like Charles-Marie Widor (1844–1937), Louis Vierne (1870–1937) and Maurice Duruflé (1902–1986).


In this talk for organists, pianists and keyboardists (and anyone who’s interested), organist Maurice Clerc whose practice is rooted in the French tradition, shares more about the history of the pipe organ and the French style of improvisation.

  • Patrons who have registered will have priority entry to the venue.
  • Patrons who have registered must arrive 5 mins before the start of the event to guarantee your admission.
  • Patrons who have registered but are not at the venue 5 mins before the start will have their seats released to walk-in patrons on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Limited seats are available at the door.
  • Seating will be assigned by Esplanade’s ushers.
Admission Age:
10 and above
Language: English
Things to Note:
Accessibility Advisory: We provide a range of access services and relaxed performances for patrons with access needs. For wheelchair-accessible seats, please call Esplanade Customer Experience at 6828 8377 for assistance. Concessions for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) and up to one accompanying companion are available. | View our accessibility guide
Artist Information

Maurice Clerc


Maurice Clerc’s playing style is deeply rooted in the French tradition while drawing energy from the dynamism of modern organ playing. He has performed in approximately 1300 recitals in twenty countries consisting of 28 tours in North America (United States and Canada).


With over forty years of performing in four continents, Maurice has played at prestigious places such as Notre-Dame de Paris (France), Saint Patrick's Cathedral (United States), Lübeck Cathedral (Germany), Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark (Italy), Saint Joseph's Oratory (Canada), St Paul's Cathedral (Melbourne, Australia), N.H.K. Hall (Japan) and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre (Hong Kong).


In 1987, Maurice was invited to play at the inauguration of the Flentrop organ in the National Theatre and Concert Hall, Taipei. In 1999, he attended the organist convention in Seoul. In 2003, he performed in Hong-Kong, China, Mexico and South Africa. In 2019, Maurice Clerc returned to Australia and New Zealand. In 2020, he played concerts and conducted masterclass in Japan and Hong Kong. His international career includes playing at leading festivals in Bruges, Ravenna, Madrid, Morelia, Saint Eustache in Paris, Milstatt, Frankfurt, Budapest, Warsaw, Buenos-Aires and Montevideo.


Born in Lyon in 1946, Maurice studied under the tutelage of Suzanne Chaise at The École Normale de Musique de Paris (France). In 1975, he was awarded the Premier Prix in organ in the class of Rolande Falcinelli at the Conservatoire National Supérieur (France). Under the tutelage of Gaston Litaize, Maurice spent several years deepening his interpretation of 18th century repertoire. From 1972, he had the opportunity to frequent Pierre Cochereau's improvisational course conducted at the Conservatory of Nice (France). Maurice won the improvisation prize in the international organ competition of Lyon in 1977.


Maurice Clerc is the Organist Emeritus of the Dijon Cathedral (France) after being the titular organist for 46 years from 1972 to 2018. He was also a professor at the Conservatory of Dijon (France). Maurice has recorded multiple times with repertoire that consisted of Johann Sebastian Bach and German baroque masters. He is a specialist of French organist music with a reputation for romantic and modern repertoire. He frequently performs the major works of César Franck, Louis Vierne, Marcel Dupré, André Fleury and Jean Langlais. His most recent recordings include Pierre Cochereau and French transcriptions.


Maurice Clerc is a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

Date & Time

29 Apr 2023, Sat


Esplanade Concert Hall Stage

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