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Musical World

Paul Jacobs

  • Organist

Biography

Last season Paul Jacobs gave the modern-day premiere in Philadelphia of an unpublished prelude and fugue by Samuel Barber, dedicated the new organ in Orange County Performing Arts Center’s Segerstrom Hall in performances of Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 with the Pacific Symphony, and was presented by the San Francisco Symphony both in concert with the orchestra, playing the Poulenc Organ Concerto, and in recital as part of their celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the orchestra’s Ruffatti organ. He joined Phoenix Symphony for performances of the Poulenc Concerto and Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3, and performed the Copland Concerto with Michael Tilson Thomas and The Philhadelphia Orchestra. He recorded the Messiaen masterwork, Livre du Saint Sacrement, scheduled for release by Naxos in September 2010. A Washington, D.C. concert last fall was named as one of the best performances of 2008 by The Washington Post.
Paul Jacobs possesses a vast repertoire spanning from the 16th century through contemporary times, including several works written for him by Samuel Adler and Christopher Theofanidis, among others. He has performed the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen in a series of nine-hour marathons in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago, and in New York City. Paul Jacobs made musical history at the age of 23 when, on the 250th anniversary of the death of J. S. Bach in 2000, he played the composer’s complete organ music in an 18-hour non-stop marathon in Pittsburgh.
Paul Jacobs is sought after by concert halls, universities, and churches across the country to dedicate their new and newly renovated organs. He is also in demand as a judge at international organ competitions, and will be the U.S. representative at the First International Organ Braudo-Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia this November, where he also performs in concert.
In addition to concert appearances and teaching, Mr. Jacobs has been a featured performer at national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists and performs frequently at festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad. He has appeared on American Public Media’s Pipedreams, Performance Today, and Saint Paul Sunday, Bavarian Radio, Brazilian Arts Television, ABC-TV’s World News Tonight, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR’s Morning Edition, CBC Radio and was recently featured on Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power from the Crystal Cathedral.
Paul Jacobs began studying the piano at the age of six and the organ at age 13. At 15 he was appointed head organist of a parish of 3,500 families in his hometown of Washington, Pennsylvania. Mr. Jacobs studied at The Curtis Institute of Music, where he double-majored in organ with John Weaver and harpsichord with Lionel Party. At Yale University, where Mr. Jacobs subsequently studied organ with Thomas Murray, he received a Master of Music degree and Artist Diploma and was awarded several honors, including Yale School of Music’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Mr. Jacobs captured first prize in numerous competitions, including the 1998 Albert Schweitzer National Organ Competition. He and was the first organist ever to be honored with the Harvard Musical Association’s Arthur W. Foote Award. In 2003 Mr. Jacobs was invited to join the faculty of The Juilliard School, and the following year, he was named chairman of the organ department, one of the youngest faculty appointments in Juilliard’s history. Paul Jacobs was named the recipient of Juilliard’s William Schuman Scholar’s Chair in 2007.