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Madeleine Church (Paris, France)

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Madeleine Church

Madeleine Church

L'église de la Madeleine (Madeleine Church) is a Catholic church occupying a commanding position in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The Madeleine Church was originally supposed to be built as a Catholic church, but the building was unfinished as a result of the Revolution. Napoleon finished constructing the building as a memorial dedicated to his army, but after the Restoration it was converted into a Catholic church named after Saint Mary Magdalene.

The church has a celebrated pipe organ, built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll in 1845. It was restored by Cavaillé-Coll's successor Charles Mutin in 1927, who also extended the manuals to 56 notes. Tonal modifications were carried out by Roethinger, Danion-Gonzalez, and Dargassies in 1957, 1971 and 1988 respectively. 

Gabriel FAURÉ composed his famous "REQUIEM" for this place in 1888, for a children's school and a men's choir. Later, Chapel Masters like Jean de VALOIS perpetuated this vocal, musical and liturgical tradition.

Modernism and its so-called active life passed through there, leading to the disappearance of this Children's Masters but leaving this same tradition intact. As before, the church of La Madeleine now has at its disposal a vocal ensemble of 4 to 8 professional singers whose repertoire, although marked by the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, extends Gregorian chant until today. This vocal ensemble is directed by Michel Geoffroy, titular organist of the choir organ.

The goal of each of the musicians of the church of La Madeleine is twofold: to help the faithful as best they can in their active participation in the Liturgy, to preserve and cultivate the treasure of Sacred Music with the greatest solicitude both within ceremonies and during spiritual concerts.

We could also mention the special place of this church in the history of many artists, who were buried here. On October 30, 1849, Frédéric Chopin was buried at La Madeleine to the sound, in particular, of Mozart's Requiem. Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély held the great organ and interpreted on this occasion the Preludes in E minor and in B minor. Three thousand people fill the church, all draped in black. On October 27, 1893, Charles Gounod had a state funeral, with Saint-Saëns on the great organ and Fauré conducting the choir. So many other artists, closer to us, were buried at the Madeleine, parish of the Presidency of the Republic, such as Thierry Le Luron, Dalida, Charles Trenet, and more recently Johnny Hallyday.

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