• IdeK
    Posts: 38
    Some of you might be interested, and sad, to hear of the death of French organist Jean Guillou.

    I didn't know him at all and learnt it in the newspapers, but I thought maybe some of you might have known him.

    I hear he was for years the organist at Saint-Eustache in Paris, before he left the position over conflict with the parish main priest. He had very harsh words about the French and Parisian clergy when he left, but I owe to the truth to say he was probably right in some respects.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,731
    I had thought he wanted to name his successor, and the priest would not allow him to do so. Who knows? Sometimes it is difficult to say how the fault in a given situation should be divvied up.
    Thanked by 2IdeK cesarfranck
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 48
    A TRAGIC LOSS TO THE ORGAN AND CHURCH MUSIC WORLD!

    Jean Guillou was one of my all-time favorites. One of those incredibly gifted organists who turned everything he touched into gold. A brilliant recitalist and improvisateur, he could bring more out of an instrument than even the builders thought they'd put into it.

    As to speculation regarding his departure from the parish of St. Eustache (after 52 years!), a colleague of mine who saw him in person not too long ago pointed out to me that at the time (in 2015) Guillou was 85 years old and could very well have been seen as "getting on a bit". Granted, Parisian organists are well-known for their longevity, both in their physical persons as well as their occupancy of certain organ benches (i.e. Widor, at age 90, relinquishing St. Sulpice in 1934 after 64 years), and the person who spoke to me did say that he seemed to have "slowed down a bit", so that could have been a factor.

    As to wanting a hand in choosing a successor, I was led to believe that the parish already had a long-term "suppleant", who was more or less viewed as the "coadjutor titulaire" with the expectation of succeeding Guillou. (Many of these "organistes titulaires" are sort viewed as occupiers of seats that are likened unto musical "cathedras"). If Guillou was unhappy with that, well he may have been sort of shouting into the wind. If I recall my Parisian organ history correctly, he succeeded Andre Marchal in 1963 pretty much in the same way.

    As to his views on Parisian clergy, I think it depends on the context. He was, I believe, very happy when Fr. Henri de la Touche was pastor, especially for all the support he gave him in obtaining the magnificent new (well, now "new-ish" [30 years old]) five manual, 147 rank Van den Heuvel organ. As is often the case, the past 30 years may have seen a decided shift in the sorts of clergy leading the parish, so...who knows. If we hear further details from some source...then we'll know.

    In any case, I will pray for the repose of his soul. Anyone hear if Madame Guillou is still among us? The last time I saw them together he was receiving some sort of an award, and she looked as though she was leaning on a cane.

    I will be playing my favorite CD of his tonight for sure. His rendition of the Allegro from Widor's 5th Symphony forever transformed that piece for me.

    Requiescat in Pace!

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 48
    UPDATE:

    The obituary says his wife and daughter survive him.

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,731
    John Gouwens posted this in Pipe Organ Rants concerning an organ Guillou had been responsible for. Perhaps of general interest to those interested in him.

    I noticed in the New York Times obituary of Jean Guillou that the organ of Tonhalle, Zurich (a large and exotic organ designed by Guillou, begun by Detlef Kleuker, and finished by Steinmeyer upon the death of the former) that the Tonhalle organ is being replaced. I had known only that the K/S was being removed and re-homed. This sent me looking for information. This may or may not turn into an actual rant, but I am interested in hearing from people who knew the Tonhalle organ about whether this change is a good or bad thing. The new organ, like the two organs that preceded the K/S, will be built by Kühn, a Swiss builder. I would be very interested in insights from people who more familiar with the situation than I am.

    Thanked by 1RMSawicki
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 48
    Replaced? Already? It was only installed in 1988!

    Oy! Well, knowing nothing of the situation myself, first reaction is "follow the money"! Who in the world is bankrolling this?

    I've heard recordings of the present instrument and found it to be magnificent, and very much what it is intended to be: an eclectic instrument for concert repertoire in a municipal auditorium/concert hall setting. I will now be looking further into this.

    Not that there is anything wrong with Kuhn, mind you. They're one of the greatest builders in Europe and could easily tie with Metzler as the best in Switzerland.

    I am still going to focus on the "why" of this. Thanks for posting this!

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 48
    A final thought on Jean Guillou.

    I loved this compliment he once received from a music reviewer in France:

    "He has the ability to transcend tradition, whilst remaining thoroughly faithful to it".

    Indeed!

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen CharlesW