Obituary: Xavier Darasse

Xavier Darasse, organist, composer and teacher, born 3 September 1934, Director Paris Conservatoire 1991-92, died Toulouse 24 November 1992.

IT IS a tragedy for the Paris Conservatoire, and for those everywhere who train musicians, that the inspiration that Xavier Darasse had begun to stir has so swiftly been terminated.

Appointed in November 1991, after a period of some disunity in the Conservatoire, Darasse appreciated that the immense talent of professors and students had to be stimulated and led into new ways of teaching; that this had to be achieved by a firm hand, wise guidance and an ability to work within the somewhat taut and perplexing rules and regulations of the French civil service (for the Conservatoire is a state institution). The appointment of the Director in Paris is a political one and in view of the impending elections in France, no decision is likely to be made until the end of next March: and that decision, consequently, may not necessarily be made for musical or for educational reasons.

Early in 1991, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Paris Conservatoire had worked together on a joint performance (with the Royal Conservatory, The Hague) of Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie, directed by William Christie, who is a leading member of the Conservatoire staff.

I first met Darasse in February this year when he came specifically for a day's visit to see our work and our environment. Immediately, we all recognised a man of vision, of enthusiasm and of keenness to share ideas and to explore new paths.

Above all, Darasse was a man of warmth and immense vitality and as a result of that one meeting, supported by later discussions in Paris, a number of imaginative projects between the Guildhall School and Paris were established, perhaps symbolised best by performances of Beethoven's Triple Concerto, with one soloist from each of the Paris Conservatoire, Guildhall School and the Musikhochschule in Frankfurt, to take place in Paris and in London in April and May 1993. There are also to be 10 days of joint chamber music-making.

Darasse's career as an organist was ended in 1976 when, returning from a recital, he was injured in a road accident which caused the permanent loss of the use of one hand. A student of Maurice Durufle, Rolande Falcinelli and Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire, Darasse had received a number of prestigious awards as a student and subsequently gave the first performances of organ works by Gyorgy Ligeti, Sylvano Bussotti, Iannis Xenakis, Gilbert Amy, amongst many others, as well as his own compositions, arrangements and improvisations.

In 1966, at the age of 32, he became organ professor in the town of his birth, Toulouse, where he devoted much energy and encyclopaedic knowledge to the restoration and preservation of instruments; he established a competition which was largely devoted to contemporary music in the city and he had the unusual role of also being organ professor of the Lyons Conservatoire, teaching in Toulouse.

Somehow, it was not altogether surprising to find Xavier Darasse in bizarre situations: his attractively quizzical and humorous personality was clearly designed to permeate the pomposities of life.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...