As a performer he revolutionized the art of organ playing, as an improviser he fascinated whole generations of concert-goers, as a composer he opened the repertoire of the ‘king of instruments’ to areas which had been considered to be unimaginable before.Schott Music
In memoriam Jean Guillou
Jean Victor Arthur Guillou (18 April 1930 – 26 January 2019) was a French composer, organist, pianist, and pedagogue. Titular Organist at Saint Eustache from 1963 to 2015, he was known world wide as a composer, improviser, pedagogue and adviser to organ builders.
Guillou was born in Angers. Following his first studies in piano and organ, he became the organist at the church St. Serge in Angers at the age of 12.He studied then at the Paris Conservatoire under Marcel Dupré, Maurice Duruflé and Olivier Messiaen.In 1955, he accepted a position as professor of organ and composition at the Institute of Sacred Music in Lisbon. In 1958 he moved to Berlin, where he lived for the following five years, during which he composed and premiered his first works. In 1963 he returned to Paris, having been appointed Titular Organist at Saint Eustache in succession to André Marchal. Appointed Organiste Titulaire Emerite at St. Eustache in September 2014, Guillou completed 52 years as organist of that church in March 2015, when he was succeeded by two co-titulaires Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard and Thomas Ospital.
He had a worldwide reputation as a concert organist and improviser. Additionally, he often performed as a pianist. He gave the English and French premieres of Julius Reubke's neglected Piano Sonata in B-flat minor.
Guillou's engagement in organ building led to collaborations with several organ builders and the construction of new instruments in l'Alpe d'Huez( F) (1978, Kleuker), in the Chant d'Oiseau church in Brussels (1981, Kleuker), in the Zürich's Tonhalle (1988, Kleuker-Steinmeyer) in the Conservatory of Naples (2006, Tamburini-Zanin) in the Auditorio de Tenerife (2005, Blancafort) and most recently in the San Antonio dei Portoghesi church in Rome (2008, Mascioni) and in the Cathedral of Leon in Spain (2013, Klais).
He composed over 90 works – for organ, chamber and orchestral music – as well as numerous transcriptions for organ, mainly published by Schott-Music. In addition, he has issued more than 100 recordings (Philips, Dorian, Festivo, Decca, Augure among others) including the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach, César Franck, Robert Schumann, numerous historical improvisations (e.g., Visions Cosmiques – 1969, or Jeux d'orgue – 1970, both re-edited in 2010 by Universal-Decca), as well as most of his own organ compositions on a series of 7 CDs (2010) for the Universal-Decca label.
From 1970-2005, Guillou taught organ performance and improvisation at the annual Züricher International Meisterkurse. Since 2007, these masterclasses have been held at St. Eustache in Paris, France. Among his pupils are Bernhard Haas, Francesco Filidei, Yanka Hekimova, Livia Mazzanti, Leonid Karev and Zsuzsa Elekes, and Jean-Baptiste Monnot. In July 2015 he was appointed Professor honoris causa at the Saar's Hochschule für Musik. He died in Paris on 26 January 2019.