After Michel Legrand, it is an immense composer who is going. The French organist Jean Guillou, died Saturday in the French capital at the age of 88 years after a product to the four corners of the world, has announced Sunday to the AFP his wife. “It was a very lively until the end, very lucid. He lived only for music. He was worried for his concerts that were scheduled until 2020,” explained Suzanne Guillou, his wife for 39 years. The organist had to happen in Italy on 15 February, 5 April at Marseilles, in the south of France, and on 21 may in Rome.
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Concert pianist internationally known composer, prolific, teacher, designer of the organ, the musician had been held from 1963 to 2015, the tribune of the church of Saint-Eustache, one of the most prestigious of France, in the heart of Paris. But claiming to be a little respected, he had decided to slam the door. “In the end, I find that the music has nothing to do with religions. I’ve always said that I had to get the organ in the churches and give it another life!”, admitted it in an interview with AFP in 2015.
“It was an immense artist, a man flamboyant, not enough recognized in France,” recalls Jean-Marie Brohm, a former president of the association Augured that ensures the promotion of the work of Jean Guillou. In 2010, he had declined the Legion of honour, honour French, inadmissible “at a time when the music known as scholarly or classical (saw) its place diminished by all the official authorities”.
Born in Angers in western France, in 1930, his recognition came from abroad. Trained at the Paris Conservatory (organ with Marcel Dupré, harmony with Maurice Duruflé, and analysis with Olivier Messiaen), the musician has quickly gone the way of Lisbon, where he has taught his instrument, and then Berlin, where he created his first works.
If it has found a tribune in Paris, it is in Switzerland, in Zurich he has trained more than 300 students from 1970 to 2005, in the company of Geza Anda (piano) and Nathan Milstein (violin). “I have been in the hands of all young organists for 35 years”, was stressed by the master.
Composer, improviser and transcriber (Bach, Liszt, Schumann…) a devotee of modernity, Jean Guillou has also applied its innovative designs to the bill of the organ, participating in the design of instruments in France (Alpe d’huez), but especially abroad (Brussels, Naples, Rome, Zurich). He left many writings and a discography important.