Paul Jacobs (organist)

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Paul Jacobs
Paul Jacobs at the Schermerhorn Organ at the Nashville Symphony, 2015.
Background information
Born1977 (age 41–42)
Washington, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresClassical music
LabelsNaxos, JAV Recordings, Hyperion Records, SFS Media

Paul Jacobs (born 1977) is an American organist. He is the first organist to receive a Grammy Award. Jacobs is currently the chair of the Juilliard School's organ department.


Paul Jacobs began piano lessons at age five and organ lessons at age 12 in his hometown of Washington, Pennsylvania. At age 15 he was appointed head organist of Immaculate Conception Church, a parish of over 3,500 families.[1] Jacobs then attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, double-majoring in organ (studying with John Weaver) and harpsichord (with Lionel Party),[2] while serving as organist at the Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge National Historical Park. During his final semester as an undergraduate student, he performed the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach several times, including once in an 18-hour non-stop marathon concert in Pittsburgh on the 250th anniversary of the composer's death (July 28, 2000).[3] Jacobs completed a master's degree from the Yale School of Music, studying organ with Thomas Murray.[4] Jacobs has performed the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen in eight American cities since 2002, each time in a nine-hour marathon concert.[5]

In 2003 Jacobs was invited to join the faculty of the Juilliard School and the following year, was named chairman of its organ department, making him one of the youngest faculty appointments in the school's history.[1] Winning accolades and awareness for the pipe organ from both critics and audiences alike, Jacobs has performed on five continents, and by the age of 32 performed in each of the 50 United States. His repertoire includes music from the 16th century through contemporary times, including new works written for him. He has appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Nashville Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra,[6] the Edmonton Symphony, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, and the Pacific Symphony.

Jacobs is known for playing demanding programs exclusively from memory. He has memorized the complete works of Olivier Messiaen, as well as the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, and César Franck.[1]

An advocate for new music, Jacobs has premiered works by Christopher Rouse,[7] Mason Bates, Michael Daugherty, Christopher Theofanidis, Samuel Adler, John Harbison, Stephen Paulus, and Wayne Oquin.[1][8][9]

Awards and honors[edit]

In addition to numerous awards and honors, Jacobs was the first organist to be given the Harvard Musical Association's Arthur W. Foote Award in 2004. He received the Yale School of Music's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005, and in 2007 he was awarded the William Schuman Scholars Chair at the Juilliard School.

He won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra) at the 53rd Grammy Awards in 2011 for his recording of Messiaen: Livre Du Saint-Sacrement.[10]

In May 2017, Jacobs was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Washington & Jefferson College.[11]


  • Paul Jacobs plays Bach: an unedited release (JAV 145)
  • Messiaen: Livre Du Saint-Sacrement
  • Ives: A Concord Symphony & Copland: Organ Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
  • "American Mavericks: Lou Harrison Organ Concerto", San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor[12]
  • Michael Daugherty: "The Gospel According to Sister Aimee," Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Carl St. Clair, conductor
  • Divine Redeemer, Christine Brewer, soprano. Released September 2015.[13]
  • Michael Daugherty: "Tales of Hemingway, American Gothic & Once upon a Castle (Live)," Nashville Symphony, Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Zuill Bailey, cello. Released September 2016.[14]
  • Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 ("Organ") and Other Works, Utah Symphony and Thierry Fischer.


  1. ^ a b c d Scherer, Barrymore Laurence (21 March 2012). "Great Music Needs No Apology". The Wall Street Journal. p. D7. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  2. ^ Whitney, Craig (18 April 2004). "The Organ as Extreme Sport". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  3. ^ Davidson, Justin (14 October 2007). "Vital Organist". New York Magazine. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  4. ^ Robinson, Joyce Johnson (February 2006). "Challenging the culture: A conversation with Paul Jacobs". The Diapson. 97 (2). Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  5. ^ Ferko, Frank (April 2002). "An Extraordinary Musical Odyssey: Paul Jacobs' Messiaen Marathon". The Diapason. 93 (4). Retrieved 28 March 2012.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Blain, Terry (October 14, 2018). "After $3 million restoration, Northrop pipe organ roars again". The Star-Tribune. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Lawrence, Michael (30 July 2008). "Paul Jacobs to Perform Unpublished Work of Samuel Barber in Philadelphia". New Liturgical Movement. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  9. ^ Mangan, Timothy (24 February 2012). "Pacific Symphony plays Daugherty, Tchaikovsky". Orange County Register. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  10. ^ Druckenbrod, Andrew (15 February 2011). "Washington, Pa., native Paul Jacobs wins Grammy for pipe organ recording". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "San Francisco Symphony Website". Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  13. ^ "Classical Playlist: Ornstein, Foss, 'Divine Redeemer' and More". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  14. ^ "Michael Daugherty: Tales of Hemingway, American Gothic & Once upon a Castle". Naxos Records. Retrieved April 22, 2017.

External links[edit]