Jacques Loussier

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Jacques Loussier
JacquesLoussier by joelo2.jpg
Loussier in 2008
Background information
Born (1934-10-26) 26 October 1934 (age 81)
Angers, France
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Piano
Website www.loussier.com

Jacques Loussier (born 26 October 1934) is a French pianist and composer. He is well known for his jazz interpretations in trio formation of many of Johann Sebastian Bach's works, such as the Goldberg Variations. He is also a licensed pilot and often flew his personal helicopter from his home at Chateau Miraval, in the south of France. This same chateau now belongs to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Loussier has also been involved with rosé wine production.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Loussier started piano lessons aged ten, in Angers, and after three months encountered his first J.S.Bach – the little G-minor Prelude. It was a piece he fell in love with, he has said, and he played it 'tens, hundreds of times', sometimes adding a note, missing another, and so changing a bit the spirit of the music. He developed quickly and at 13, was taken to Paris to meet one of France's leading pianists, Yves Nat. Every three months he went to Paris playing the music Nat wanted him to play, given advice, and then another programme for three months later to come back to play.[2] He began composing music while studying at the Conservatoire National de Musique, having moved then to Paris, under Professor Yves Nat, from the age of sixteen.

After six years' study, he left to travel the world, where he experienced sounds of the Middle East, Latin America, and Cuba, where he spent one year.

"Play Bach" series[edit]

In 1959 he formed the Jacques Loussier Trio with string bass player Pierre Michelot who had previously played with Django Reinhardt and the Quintette du Hot Club de France, and percussionist Christian Garros. They used Bach's compositions as a base for jazz improvisation and had many live appearances, tours, and concerts, as well as a number of recordings. Originally the trio recorded for Decca Records but in 1973 changed to Philips/Phonogram. The trio sold over six million albums in 15 years.[3] Their most famous recording is "Air on the G String" which was used for the Hamlet cigar advertisements in the UK for over 35 years.

Film soundtracks[edit]

Beginning with The Happy Sixties in 1963, Loussier composed soundtracks for over 67 films, made for television films, and television series.[4] These included the scores for the films The Killing Game (1967), Dark of the Sun (1968) and Monique (1970), the theme tune for the popular 1960s French TV series Thierry La Fronde, and the original sign-on music for La 3e chaîne, the predecessor television channel to France 3.

Trio break-up[edit]

In 1978, the trio broke up, and Loussier set up his own recording studio in Provence, where he worked on compositions for acoustic and electric instruments. He also worked with musicians like Pink Floyd, Elton John, Sting, and Yes. Allegedly, parts of Pink Floyd's album The Wall were recorded at his studio.


In 1985 (300 years after Bach's birth), Loussier reformed the Jacques Loussier Trio with two new partners, percussionist André Arpino and double bassist Vincent Charbonnier. The bassist Benoit Dunoyer De Segonzac has also performed in the trio, replacing Charbonnier (whose left hand was affected following a stroke, resulting in his being unable to continue to play the bass [Ricardo Abdahllah, 'La música es algo más físico que intelectual' (Interview with Jacques Loussier) on Arcadia magazine, no. 36, Colombia, sept. 2008, page 23.]), on a number of albums and concerts from at least as early as 1998 (on the album Satie: Gymnopédies Gnossiennes). More recent recordings included interpretations of compositions by Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Antonio Vivaldi, and Robert Schumann. A 2005 recording entitled Take Bach, made by the trio along with the Pekinel sisters, features adaptations of Bach's concertos for two and three pianos.


In April 2002, Loussier filed a $10-million lawsuit against Eminem and The Marshall Mathers LP executive producer Dr. Dre, claiming that the beat for the track "Kill You" was stolen from his composition "Pulsion". He demanded that all sales of the album be halted and any remaining copies destroyed. A trial date was set to begin in June 2004. The case was settled out of court.

Loussier Trio recordings[edit]

  • 1959 – Play Bach No. 1 (Decca SS 40 500)
  • 1959 – Play Bach No. 2 (Decca SSL 40 502)
  • 1959 – Play Bach No. 3 (Decca SSL 40 507)
  • 1962 – Jacques Loussier Joue Kurt Weill (RCA 430-071)
  • 1963 – Play Bach No. 4 (Decca SSL 40.516)
  • 1964 – Play Bach No. 5 (Decca SSL 40.205 S)
  • 1965 – Play Bach aux Champs Élysées (Decca Coffret, two albums, SSL40.148)
  • 1972 – Dark of the Sun (MGM SE-4544ST)
  • 1973 – Jacques Loussier Trio 6 Master Pieces (Philips 6321-100)
  • 1974 – Jacques Loussier at the Royal Festival Hall (Philips 6370 550 D)
  • 1974 – Jacques Loussier et le Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Decca PFS 4176)
  • 1979 – Pulsion (CBS 84078)
  • 1979 – Pulsion sous la mer (Decca 844 060-2)
  • 1982 – Pagan Moon (CBS CB271)
  • 1985 – The Best of Play Bach (Start STL6) – UK No. 58[5]
  • 1986 – Bach to the Future (Start CD SCD2)
  • 1987 – Jacques Loussier Live in Japan (King Records Japan CD original Live K32Y 6172)
  • 1987 – Bach to Bach (Start CD Original Live in Japan SMCD 19)
  • 1988 – Brandenburg Concertos (Limelight-Japan CD 844 058-2, Decca Record Company)
  • 1988 – The Greatest Bach Partita No.1 in B Flat Major BWV 825 – Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor BWV 1067 (Limelight CD 844 059-2, Decca Record Company)
  • 1990 – Lumières Messe Baroque du 21ième siècle (Decca CD 425217-2)
  • 1993 – Play Bach 93 Volume 2 (Note Productions CD 437000-3)
  • 1993 – Play Bach 93 Volume 1 (Note Productions CD 437000-2)
  • 1994 – Play Bach Aujourd'hui Les Thèmes en Ré (Note Productions CD 437000-4)
  • 1995 – Jacques Loussier Plays Bach (Telarc), Compilation "Play Bach 93" et "Les Thèmes en Ré" (Note Productions)
  • 1996 – Lumières Messe Baroque du 21ième siècle (Note Productions CD 43707)
  • 1997 – Jacques Loussier Plays Vivaldi (Telarc CD 83417)
  • 1998 – Satie (Telarc CD 83431)
  • 1999 – Ravel's Bolero (Telarc CD 83466)
  • 2000 – Bach Book 40th Anniversary (Telarc CD 83474), Compilation "Play Bach 93"
  • 2000 – Bach's Goldberg Variations (Telarc CD 83479)
  • 2000 – Plays Debussy (Telarc CD 83511)
  • 2000 – Play Bach No. 1 (Decca 157 561–2)
  • 2000 – Play Bach No. 2 (Decca 157 562–2)
  • 2000 – Play Bach No. 3 (Decca 157 892–2)
  • 2000 – Play Bach No. 4 (Decca 157 893–2)
  • 2000 – Play Bach aux Champs Élysées (Decca)
  • 2000 – Play Bach No. 5 (Decca 159 194–2)
  • 2001 – Baroque Favorites. Jazz Improvisations: Works by Handel, Marais, Scarlatti, Marcello, Albinoni (Telarc CD 83516)
  • 2002 – Handel: Water Music & Royal Fireworks (Telarc CD 83544)
  • 2003 – Beethoven: Allegretto from Symphony No. 7: Theme and Variations (Telarc CD-83580)
  • 2004 – Impressions of Chopin's Nocturnes (Telarc CD-83602)
  • 2004 – The Best of Play Bach (Telarc SACD-63590)
  • 2005 – Mozart Piano Concertos 20/23 (Telarc CD-83628)
  • 2006 – Bach: The Brandenburgs (Telarc CD-83644)
  • 2007 – Jacques Loussier Plays Bach – Encore! (Telarc 83671-25)
  • 2009 – Jacques Loussier Plays Bach: The 50th Anniversary Recording (Telarc 83693-25)
  • 2011 – Schumann: Kinderszenen (Scenes From Childhood) (Telarc TEL-32270-02)

Jacques Loussier recordings[edit]

  • 2014 – Violin Music: Concerto No. 1; Concerto No. 2 (Naxos 8.573200)


  1. ^ . Chateau Miraval http://miraval-provence.com/en/#Provence.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Jacques Loussier, BBC Four
  3. ^ Biography Allmusic
  4. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0522145/
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 331. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]