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Guillou, Jean
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Biography

 

Guillou, Jean

(Born; Angers, 18 Apr 1930) Jean Guillou is one of the most individual figures in contemporary French music. In the years after the second World War he studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Dupré, Duruflé and Messiaen, and then spent some time working in Portugal and Germany before returning to Paris in 1963, when he was appointed organist of the church of Saint-Eustache. Ever since the publication of his first organ works in the early 1960s, Guillou has pursued a colourful career as a teacher, as a composer, and as a sensational performer with a special flair for imaginative improvisation. He has strong and often idiosyncratic ideas about interpretation and organ design, which have often aroused controversy, but many of the instruments he has designed have won universal acclaim, particularly the monumental new organs in the Tonhalle, Zurich (1988) and in Saint-Eustache (1989). Guillou is devoted to the promotion of the organ as a living concert instrument, and in addition to his own compositions, he has transcribed many works from the mainstream repertoire, including pieces by Vivaldi, Liszt, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky.

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