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Thierry Escaich

Composer, organist and improviser Thierry Escaich is a unique figure in contemporary music and one of the most important French composers of his generation. The three elements of Escaich’s artistry are inseparable, allowing him to express himself as a virtuosic performer, interpreter and creator at the highest level. Thierry Escaich composes works in many genres and forms, including opera, symphonic and chamber music. His catalogue numbers over 100 works which, with their lyrical, rich harmonies and rhythmic energy, have attracted a wide audience. Drawing from the French line of composition of Ravel, Messiaen and Dutilleux, and imbued with references from contemporary, jazz, popular and spiritual music, the distinctive sound-world of Escaich’s music is anchored by an obsessive rhythmic drive and compelling architecture. This very personal style encompasses both intimate works and large-scale pieces, such as Chaconne for orchestra; oratorio Le Dernier Évangile and a double concerto for violin and cello, Miroir d’ombres. His first opera Claude, on a libretto by Robert Badinter after Victor Hugo's Claude Gueux, was premiered at the Opéra de Lyon in March 2013 to great acclaim. His most recent new works include the world premiere of a new opera, Shirine, by Opera de Lyon, a new chamber opera, Point d’orgue, which received its commissioned premieres by Opéra National de Bordeaux and Opéra Théâtre de Saint-Étienne, and his Flute Concerto, which received its public world premiere by the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Thierry Escaich’s works are performed by leading orchestras in Europe and North America and by musicians such as Joséphine Olech , Lisa Batiashvili and François Leleux, Valery Gergiev, Paavo Järvi, Alan Gilbert, Alain Altinoglu, Louis Langrée, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Emmanuelle Bertrand and Paul Meyer. His music has been honoured by five ‘Victoires de la Musique’ awards (2003, 2006, 2011, 2017 and 2022). Escaich continues to teach composition and improvisation at the Paris Conservatoire, where he himself studied and obtained eight ‘premiers prix’. In 2013 received the honour of being appointed to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris; in 2018 he took the prestigious role of Featured Composer at the Radio France Présences Festival in Paris. Works for organ are an important feature of Escaich’s music and they are performed by organists around the world, including solo and chamber works, three concerti and the symphonic poem La Barque solaire for organ and orchestra. Escaich’s Organ Concerto No.1 has been performed by orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Orchestre National de Lyon, and was selected as a highlight of the organ concerto repertoire in Gramophone: “His concerto exploits the full sonic and colour ranges of orchestra and organ in this thrilling three-movement work, the second movement rising to an awe-inspiring climax only topped by the shattering coda of the finale.” Thierry Escaich’s career as a composer is closely linked to his career as an organist. He is one of the ambassadors of the great French school of improvisation in the wake of Maurice Duruflé, whom he succeeded as organist of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont in Paris. He appears in recitals internationally, combining repertoire pieces with his own compositions and improvisations. His passion for cinema has led him to perform ‘cineconcerts’, improvised accompaniments on both the organ and piano for silent films such as Phantom of the Opera and Metropolis. Major upcoming highlights this season include the World Premieres of his Piano Concerto by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and his Cello Concerto by Gewandhaus zu Leipzig in Leipzig and at Salzburg Easter Festival and by Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston and at Carnegie Hall. Escaich is Organist and Composer in Residence for the 2022/23 season, most notably for the world premiere of his new commission for organ with string quartet, Prana, with the Tchalik Quartet. Escaich make his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic and also appears with the Seattle Symphony, Concerto Budapest at Müpa, Orchestre et Choeur de Paris Sciences et Lettres and performs widely in recital including appearances at Dresdner Philharmonie, Cologne Philharmonie, Wiener Konzerthaus, Baurenkirche Iserlohn and Festival de Forets. Many of Escaich’s works have been recorded by Accord/Universal. Most recently the disc Baroque Song was released on Sony Classical to critical acclaim. His 2011 release Les Nuits hallucinées crowned his residency with the Orchestre National de Lyon, and received numerous distinctions, including a ‘Choc de l’année’ from Classica magazine as an outstanding release of the year. The first production of Claude was released on DVD (BelAir Classiques).


Stand: August 2023

credit Marie Rolland