Jean-Pierre Leguay

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Jean-Pierre Leguay (born 4 July 1939 in Dijon) is a French organist, composer and improviser. He studied with André Marchal, Gaston Litaize, Rolande Falcinelli (organ), Simone Plé-Caussade (counterpoint), and Olivier Messiaen (composition), before serving as titular organist at Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Paris from 1961 to 1984. In 1985 he was named a titular organist at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, alongside Olivier Latry, Yves Devernay and Philippe Lefebvre.

From 1968 to 1989, he taught organ, improvisation (both single and in ensemble) at the Conservatoire à rayonnement régional de Limoges (and music history until 1986), and at the Conservatoire National de Région de Dijon from 1989 to 2003. He has also been in charge of improvisation courses in Paris at the Centre d’Action Liturgique et Musical (1985-1988) and at the Conservatoire Erik Satie du 7e arrondissement.

He has won many awards for organ, improvisation (organ and piano) and composition at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, in addition to international competitions in Lyon, Nice, Haarlem, and Erding.

Internationally recognized as a concert organist, composer and improviser—not only at the organ, but also as a pianist and in ensemble—Jean-Pierre Leguay pursues a triple career throughout Europe, Canada, the United States, and Asia. He is frequently invited to appear by radio networks, academies, universities and conservatories in France and overseas.

Constantly exploring the “alchemy of sound,” the composer’s catalog comprises more than seventy works for various instrumental and vocal ensembles, including Etoilé (harpsichord and quintet), Sève (alto saxophone and piano), Souffle (fourteen instruments), Azur (piano), Aube (organ and chamber orchestra), Cendres d’ailes (tenor and piano) and a string trio and quartet. His principal publishers are Billaudot, Lemoine, Universal, and Symétrie. He has received commissions from the Ministère de la Culture, Radio France, Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, the Concours International de Chartres, Musique Sacrée à Notre-Dame de Paris, the Scottish Arts Council of Edinburgh, the Festival de Música Española de Léon and the Festival de La Massana (Andorra).

Jean-Pierre Leguay’s numerous recordings span repertory from the 17th- to the 21st century. Several CDs are devoted to his own compositions and improvisations. He improvised much of the music for the film Les Mystères des Cathédrales directed by Jean-François Delassus for ARTE television and Les Editions Montparnasse. The recording of his Missa Deo Gratias and his Sonates II and III were recognized with a “Choc” award from Le Monde le la Musique magazine. His most recent CD of improvisations at Notre-Dame Cathedral recently received the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.

He became a Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honour on 1 January 2013.