Paul Benoit (1893-1979) was born December 9, 1893 in Nancy, France.
During World War I, Benoit first began to feel called to the vocation of a Benedictine monk. After the Armistice of 1918, he entered a retreat at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Maurice and St. Maur, at Clervaux in Luxembourg, and he joined the abbey in 1919. After taking his vows (1921) and being ordained into priesthood (1926), he was called Dom Paul Benoit. "Dom" is the traditional title given to Benedictines after their vows.
Benoit had begun music lessons at the age of seven, taking piano lessons from his mother. He took organ lessons from Mademoiselle Hess, the daughter of the organist of Notre Dame Cathedral in Nancy. After his priestly ordination, he studied the organ with Albert Leblanc, the former organist of Notre Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg. He then studied with Augustin Pierson, organist at St. Louis Cathedral in Versailles, whose brother was also a monk at Clervaux. There he was introduced to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Louis Vierne, who influenced his own work. During that time, he gave organ lessons to organists in the area of Clervaux.
In 1931, Benoit took over as organist of the Mutin-Cavaillé-Coll organ at the abbey, replacing his predecessor who suffered from health problems. Although he had already composed small pieces as a child, it was at this time that he began composing seriously. In an autobiography, he said that he drew inspiration from Bach, Vierne, Debussy and Ravel. His main source of inspiration was Gregorian chant, which he heard daily in the monastic liturgy.
Benoit's compositional style can be described as melodic-pentatonic, with the occasional harmonic influence of Impressionism. He skillfully uses ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths, and the melody is often set against sustained chords.
This interesting work is manuscript, and I'm sorry not to be able to attach it. I did attach several photos of Benoit and of Clervaux Abbey.
Peace to All!