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Ducommun Samuel (21. 06. 1914 - 06. 08. 1987)

Ducommun Samuel
p/a Jacqueline Tscholl-Ducommun
Rychenbergstr. 139
CH-8400 Winterthur
Tel. +41 (0)52 242 67 83
Fax +41 (0)52 242 67 68


Samuel Ducommun, a composer from Neuchâtel, studied organ under the tutelage of Louis Kelterborn and then Charles Faller and received a prize for virtuosity in 1938. He was a student of Charles Humbert with whom he studied harmony and continued with a study of counterpoint and composition under the tutelage of Paul Benner. Following this he became a student of Marcel Dupré. His career as an organist began in 1934 in Corcelles (Neuchâtel) and continued at the 'Stadtkirche' in Bienne from 1938 until 1942. Neuchâtel became the centre of his multiple activities as early as 1942; he was collegium organist, singing teacher at schools, piano teacher at the cantonal college and taught classes for organ, harmony, analysis, counterpoint and composition at the conservatory. Samuel Ducommun has performed in numerous Swiss, French and German cities. In addition to the classical and romantic repertoire his programmes also left space for the contemporary music of his time (Paul Müller-Zürich, Henri Gagnebin,Conrad Beck, Bernard Reichel, Jean Binet, Willy Burkhard, Rudolf Moser , Paul Hindemith, Frank Martin and Marcel Dupré). Premiere performances include: the French premiere of Frank Martin's 'Passacaille' (Radio Paris) in 1950, the premiere performance of the Concerto for Organ and Orchestra by Rudolf Moser in Zurich under the direction of Hermann Scherchen in 1948 and the French premiere of the same concerto at the 'Temple de l'Etoile' in Paris under the direction of Léon Zighera in 1952.
Composition occupied a prime position in the activities of Samuel Ducommun since his adolescence. The importance of the organ is apparent through its role as a privileged solo instrument (two concertos, symphony, suites, works intended for concert or church service) or as an accompaniment for voice (soprano, baritone), the flute, the oboe, the clarinet, the trumpet, the horn or the alphorn. Some works for soli, choir and orchestra have been written for particular occasions: 'Les Voix de la Fôret' (1964), with text by Marc Eigeldinger, was written to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Neuchâtel's entrance into the Confederacy; 'Jubilate Deo' (1976) a suite of psalms extracted from 'Vulgata' was written to mark the 700th anniversary of the 'Dédicace de la Collégiale' and 'L'Eternel parle' (1980), with text by Charles Bauer, was written for the 450th anniversary of the Reformation in Neuchâtel. Other compositions were born of fruitful encounters with poets from Neuchâtel: the cantata 'Siméon' with text by Edmond Jeanneret, a Christmas cantata and 'La Moisson de Feu', an oratorio with text by Marc Eigeldinger. Several symphonic and concertante works have also been produced by Samuel Ducommun (sinfonietta, serenade, nocturnes, concerto grosso with two violin solos, concertino for trumpet, concertos for organ and string orchestra, symphony for large orchestra), and numerous scores for chamber music (sonatas for flute, violin, violoncello and piano) and compositions for various instrumental formations (quintet with piano; string trio, flute and piano; flute quartet; brass trio; string quartet, flute, clarinet and piano; soprano, harp and string quartet) completes the musical production of Samuel Ducommun. While the style and the spirit of the compositions is French inspired and the architecture calls on classical forms with the fugue, passacaglia and sonata forms as examples, the expression is generally polytonal, sometimes atonal and often modal. Samuel Ducommun discovered a personal musical language which does not want to imitate person nor deny origins. If the material is traditional, the work is original.

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