Jean Guillou


Born: May 18, 1930; Angers, France  
Jean Guillou was one of the most prominent and respected organists in Europe, but it took the CD boom of the late 1980s to turn him into something of a recording star. Guillou entered the Paris Conservatory in 1945, studying keyboard and composition with teachers including Marcel Dupré, Olivier Messiaen, and Maurice Duruflé. In 1953, at age 23, he joined the faculty of the Intituto de Alta Cultura in Lisbon. In 1958, Guillou moved to West Berlin, Read more where he established himself as a recitalist and also published his first original compositions for solo organ and chamber ensemble. In 1963, Guillou was appointed organist at the Church of St. Eustache in Paris, a position he has had ever since. He subsequently toured Eastern Europe, Japan, and the United States. His recitals became renowned for their inventiveness and wit, Guillou freely intermingling his interpretations of works by Johann Sebastian Bach and César Franck, and arrangements of non-keyboard works by composers such as Franz Josef Haydn, as well as his own original compositions. Guillou's performances are noted for their dramatic flair and showmanship, which has made him something of a flamboyant star on his instrument.

As a composer, he has written numerous pieces that explore the sonorities of the organ in combination with other instruments, such as the cello in his Fantasie Concertante and with soprano in his Andromeda, based on the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins. He has also written concerti for the piano, an instrument on which he is thoroughly proficient though less celebrated, and authored an oratorio, The Last Judgment (1965); one symphonic work, his Judith-Symphonie (1971) for mezzo soprano and orchestra; and Hypérion (1987) for organ and orchestra. He has also revived the major keyboard works of Julius Reubke, a student of Franz Liszt who died tragically young. Guillou has written books on organ performance and the history and design of the instrument and is well-known within the music community as a leading scholar, conducting international master classes in Zurich since 1970.

He has made numerous acclaimed recordings that have earned him recognition around the world. For Philips, he recorded such works as Alice au pays de l'orgue, a musical journey inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, and the Fantasie Concertante. He has also done extensive recording for the audiophile Dorian label -- the latter include his performances of Bach's Goldberg Variations and own organ transcriptions of Igor Stravinsky's Petrushka and Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition -- the latter disc found an especially large audience during the CD boom of the late 1980s, both as a result of the work's inherent popularity and as a serious follow-up to rock organist Keith Emerson's Moog synthesizer-based approach to the work from two decades earlier. This activity overlapped with Guillou's performances of the complete solo organ works of Bach in conjunction with the composer's tercentenary. Read less
Browse 1-9 of 9 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Daniel Barenboim: A Retrospective / Various
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985393632 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 46
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Carl Stamitz  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Saschko Gawriloff,  Halina Lukomska,  Pinchas Zukerman  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Daniel Barenboim,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 2.
    Organ Works Of Bach / Jean Guillou
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 92104 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jean Guillou
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  • 3.
    Arne: 8 Overtures, Concertos, Songs / Hogwood, Marriner
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470372 Release Date: 10/08/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Thomas Augustine Arne
    Performer:  Emma Kirkby,  Robert Tear,  Jean Guillou,  George Malcolm  ... 
    Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood,  René Klopfenstein,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  Berlin Brandenburg Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
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  • 4.
    Visions Of Bach - Transcriptions And Arrangements
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 90016 Release Date: 05/09/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Traditional
    Performer:  Ronald Pearl,  Julian Gray,  Andrew Rangell,  Jean Guillou  ... 
    Conductor:  Eduardo Mata,  Bernard Labadie
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra,  Boulder Brass,  Les Violons du Roy  ... 
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  • 5.
    The Art Of Improvisation / Jean Guillou
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 90101 Release Date: 08/31/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Guillou
    Performer:  Jean Guillou
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  • 6.
    The Dorian Collection Sampler, Vol. 3
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 90003 Release Date: 08/31/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Adson,  Antoine Busnois,  Paul Peuerl,  Andrew Blackhall  ... 
    Performer:  Custer LaRue,  Ronn McFarlane,  Colin Tilney,  Dalton Baldwin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Kammermusiker,  Baltimore Consort,  The Rembrandt Trio
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  • 7.
    Bach: The Goldberg Variations / Jean Guillou
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 90110 Release Date: 08/02/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jean Guillou
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  • 8.
    Organ Encores / Jean Guillou
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 90112 Release Date: 08/02/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Stanley,  Louis-Nicolas Clérambault,  Jean Guillou,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Jean Guillou
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  • 9.
    Vivaldi For Organ / Jean Guillou
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 90118 Release Date: 06/22/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jean Guillou
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