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Thierry Escaich

Composer, Organ

  • 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 performer, creator and collaborator in a wide range of settings.

  • Compositeur, organiste et improvisateur, Thierry Escaich est une figure unique de la scène musicale contemporaine et l’un des représentants majeurs de la nouvelle génération de compositeurs français. Les trois aspects de son art sont indissociables, ce qui lui permet de mêler dans ses concerts création, improvisation et interprétation dans les combinaisons les plus diverses.

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  • Escaich composes in many genres and forms, always exploring new sound horizons. 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, folk and spiritual music, the distinctive sound-world of Escaich’s music is anchored by an obsessive rhythmic drive and an overarching sense of 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 a double concerto for Lisa Batiashvili and Francois Leleux co-commissioned by NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg and the New York Philharmonic, Psalmos, a concerto for orchestra, premiered by Cincinnati Symphony, and Organ Concerto No.3 which receives its world premiere by Escaich and Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa in 2017.


    Escaich has composed many works for the organ including solo works, two 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.” Gramophone, September 2014.


    His works are performed by leading orchestras in Europe and North America and by musicians such as Lisa Batiashvili and François Leleux, Valery Gergiev, Lothar Zagrosek, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Emmanuelle Bertrand, Paul Meyer, John Mark Ainsley and the Quatuor Voce. Escaich has been Composer-in-Residence with the Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre National de Lille and the Paris Chamber Orchestra and his music has been honoured by three ‘Victoires de la Musique’ awards (2003, 2006 and 2011). Since 1992, Thierry Escaich has taught composition and improvisation at the Paris Conservatoire, where he himself studied and obtained eight ‘premiers prix’. In 2013 he received the honour of being appointed to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He is Artistic Director of the Mariinsky International Organ Festival.


    Thierry Escaich’s career as a composer is closely linked to his career as an organist, which has led him to be 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 ‘cine-concerts’, improvised accompaniments on both the organ and piano for silent films such as Phantom of the Opera and Metropolis.


    Highlights of the 2016/17 season include the World premiere of Organ Concerto No.3, co-commissioned by Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, American Guild of Organists and Orchestre National de Lyon. He appears at the Aix en Provence Easter Festival, including the World premiere of a new Sextet and a composer-portrait concert focusing on Escaich. Elsewhere this season Escaich performs recitals at Wiener Konzerthaus, Münchner Orgelherbst, has engagements with the Orchestra of the Mariinsky, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre d’Auvergne, Athens State Orchestra, and performs improvisations to silent films at Auditorium de Lyon and Radio France.


    Many of Escaich’s works have been recorded by Accord/Universal. Most recently the disc Les Nuits hallucinées (2011), which crowned his residence with the Orchestre National de Lyon, received numerous distinctions, including a 'Choc de l’année' from Classica magazine as an outstanding release of the year. Most recently a DVD was released of his opera Claude from the world premiere at Opéra de Lyon conducted by Jérémie Rhorer.

    2016/17 season / 693 words. Not to be altered without permission.
  • Comme compositeur, Escaich aborde les genres et les effectifs les plus variés, dans une quête incessante de nouveaux horizons sonores. Son œuvre comporte une centaine de pièces, qui séduisent un large public par leur lyrisme incandescent et leur rythmique implacable. Se situant dans la lignée de Ravel*, Messiaen ou Dutilleux, et ne refusant pas les apports des musiques populaires ou les éléments d’inspiration sacrée, la musique d’Escaich témoigne avant tout d’un sens puissant de l’architecture formelle qui plonge l’auditeur au cœur d’une superposition de mondes sonores insolites.


    Son style si personnel transparaît aussi bien dans l’intimité de sa musique de chambre que dans de vastes fresques comme Chaconne pour orchestre, l’oratorio Le Dernier Évangile ou le double concerto pour violon et violoncelle Miroir d’ombres. Son premier opéra, Claude, sur un livret de Robert Badinter d’après Claude Gueux de Victor Hugo, a été créé à l’Opéra national de Lyon en mars 2013 et a reçu les éloges de la critique. Parmi ses compositions les plus récentes, citons un double concerto écrit pour Lisa Batiashvili et François Leleux, co-commande du NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg et du New York Philharmonic, Psalmos, un concerto pour orchestre, créé par le Cincinnati Symphony, et le Concerto pour orgue no 3, dont la création aura lieu en 2017 avec Escaich et l’Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa.


    Escaich compose volontiers pour son propre instrument : pièces solistes, deux concertos, et La Barque solaire, poème symphonique pour orgue et orchestre. Son Concerto pour orgue no 1 a été joué notamment par le Philadelphia Orchestra et l’Orchestre national de Lyon, et a été sélectionné comme un incontournable du répertoire d’orgue par le magazine Gramophone : « Son concerto exploite toute la palette sonore de l’orchestre et de l’orgue en trois mouvements électrisants, le second mouvement enflant jusqu’à un sommet impressionnant, qui n’est surpassé que par la fracassante coda finale. » Gramophone, septembre 2014.


    Ses pièces sont inscrites au répertoire des plus grands orchestres aussi bien en Europe qu’aux États-Unis, et à celui de musiciens tels que Lisa Batiashvili et François Leleux, Valery Gergiev, Lothar Zagrosek, Renaud et Gautier Capuçon, Emmanuelle Bertrand, Paul Meyer, John Mark Ainsley ou le Quatuor Voce. Il a été compositeur en résidence à l’Orchestre national de Lyon, à l’Orchestre national de Lille, et plus récemment à l’Orchestre de chambre de Paris. Sa musique a reçu trois Victoires de la musique (2003, 2006 et 2011). Thierry Escaich enseigne depuis 1992 l’improvisation et l’écriture au Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris, où il a remporté lui-même huit premiers prix. En 2013, il a été élu à l’Académie des Beaux-Arts de l’Institut de France. Il est directeur artistique du Festival international d’orgue du Théâtre Mariinski.


    Sa carrière de compositeur est étroitement liée à celle d’organiste, à l’instar de Maurice Duruflé, auquel il succède également comme organiste titulaire de Saint-Étienne-du-Mont à Paris. Escaich se produit en récital dans le monde entier, mêlant les œuvres du répertoire à ses propres compositions et à des improvisations. Sa passion pour le cinéma l’amène à jouer au piano comme à l’orgue sur des films muets tels que Le Fantôme de l’Opéra et Métropolis.


    Parmi les événements marquants de la saison 2016/2017, citons la création du Concerto pour orgue No 3, co-commande de l’Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, de l’American Guild of Organists et de l’Orchestre national de Lyon. Il se produit lors du Festival de Pâques d’Aix-en Provence, avec notamment la création d’un nouveau sextuor et un portrait de l’artiste. Cette saison, il donne des récitals au Konzerthaus de Vienne, à l’Orgelherbst de Munich, joue avec l’Orchestre du Théâtre Mariinski, l’Orchestre symphonique de la Radio de Francfort, l’Orchestre d’Auvergne, l’Orchestre national d’Athènes, et accompagne des films muets à l’Auditorium de Lyon et à Radio France.


    Les différentes facettes de son art s’illustrent dans une discographie abondante, largement récompensée et publiée notamment chez Accord/Universal et Indésens ; son disque Les Nuits hallucinées (2011), qui couronne sa résidence auprès de l’Orchestre national de Lyon, a reçu de nombreuses distinctions, notamment un « Choc de l’année » de Classica. Plus récemment, la création mondiale de Claude à l’Opéra national de Lyon sous la baguette de Jérémie Rhorer, a été publiée en DVD.

    Thierry Escaich is represented by Intermusica.
    2016/17 season / 748 words. Not to be altered without permission.

Performances

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Composing highlights

2014/15 and 2015/16 were significant seasons for Thierry Escaich, with the premiere of his Double Concerto for Lisa Batiashvili and Francois Leleux by the New York Philharmonic and NDR Hamburg conducted by Alan Gilbert, his Concerto for Orchestra by the Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi to celebrate opening the new Philharmonie de Paris and Psalmos, a concerto for orchestra premiered by Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The 2016/17 season sees the world premiere of Organ Concerto No.3 with Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa conducted by Michiyoshi Inoue. Also this season a new sextet will be premiered at the Aix en Provence Easter Festival by the Capuçon Quartet and Escaich performs his Organ Concerto No.2 with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra in October 2016. 


Selection of works by Thierry Escaich


Concerto for Orchestra
Premiere 2015, Orchestre de Paris. Published Billaudot.


Vertiges de la croix – 19 mins
Symphony orchestra, after Rubens La Descente de Croix. Published Billaudot.


Baroque Song – 16 mins
Chamber orchestra. Published Billaudot.


Le Barque Solaire (soloist: Thierry Escaich) – 15 mins
Overture for orchestra and organ. Published Billaudot.


Organ Concerto No.1 (soloist: Thierry Escaich) – 28 mins
Solo organ & symphony orchestra. Published Leduc.
Watch on YouTube


Organ Concerto No.2 (soloist: Thierry Escaich) - 20 mins
Solo organ, strings & percussion. Published Leduc.


Organ Concerto No.3 (soloist: Thierry Escaich) - 20 mins
World premiere 2017, Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, American
Guild of Organists and Orchestre National de Lyon. Published
Billaudot.


Double Concerto (soloists: Lisa Batiashvili & Francois Leleux) –
26 mins
Double concerto for violin and oboe. Published Billaudot.


Miroir d’Ombres (soloists: Renaud Capucon & Gautier Capucon) – 26 mins
Double concerto for violin and cello + symphony orchestra. Published Billaudot.


Clarinet Concerto (soloist: Paul Meyer) - 23 mins
Clarinet and chamber orchestra. Published Billaudot.


Claude
Opera after Victor Hugo’s story to a libretto by Robert Badinter, World Premiere: Opera de Lyon, 2013, conducted Jeremie Rhorer. Published Billaudot.


The works of Thierry Escaich are published by:
Gerard Billaudot 
Editions Alphonse Leduc 

Conductors

Conductors who have performed music by Thierry Escaich in recent seasons include:


Alain Altinoglu
Christian Arming
Alexandre Bloch
Joanna Carneiro
Jean-Claude Casadesus
Stéphane Denève
Olari Elts
Christoph Eschenbach
Valery Gergiev 
Paavo Järvi
Louis Langrée
Jun Märkl
John Nelson
Franck Ollu
Joseph Pons
Jérémie Rhorer
Pascal Rophé
Joseph Swensen
Juraj Valcuha 
Kazuki Yamada 
Christian Zacharias
Lothar Zagrosek

Organ concerti

Thierry Escaich has composed three works for solo organ and orchestra, which he often performs as soloist. He next performs his Organ Concerto No.1 with Gergiev and the Mariinsky in Spring 2015, a work which was recently selected as a highlight in Gramophone’s survey of organ concerti: “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.” Gramophone, Sept 2014


Escaich Organ concerto No.1 (with symphony orchestra)
Published by Leduc. Duration: 28 mins
Scored for: solo organ + 2.2.2.2 – 2.2.2.0 – timp, 3 perc – strings
Watch on YouTube 


Escaich Organ concerto No.2 (with strings and percussion)
Published by Leduc. Duration: 20 mins
Scored for: solo organ + strings, 2 perc


Escaich La Barque Solaire (The Sun Boat)+
Published by Billaudot. Duration: 15 mins
Scored for: organ – 3.3.3.3 – 4.3.3.1 – timp, 3 perc, celesta, harp – strings (orchestration exactly matches Saint-Saens 3)

Recitals

Thierry Escaich is a celebrated recitalist with a huge following, and is famous for the improvisations he performs. Future engagements include recitals at the Royal Festival Hall, Berlin Konzerthaus and he performs in all the major organ series, with recent highlights including recitals at the Vienna Konzerthaus, BBC Proms, Mariinsky Theatre, New York, Boston, Seattle, Toronto, Tokyo, Dresden Frauenkirche, Brussels, Madrid, Helsinki, Enescu Festival and across Europe. Escaich offers a wide range of recital programmes which invariably include improvisations, for example:


BBC Proms


Escaich Overture in the Baroque Style (improvisation)
Bach Chorale Prelude 'Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland', BWV 659
Escaich Evocation III (on 'Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland')
Reger Chorale Prelude 'Jauchz, Erd, und Himmel, juble hell', Op.67 No.15
Franck Chorale No.2 in B minor
Liszt Adagio in D flat major, S759
Escaich Triptych on Themes by Liszt (improvisation)


Vienna Konzerthaus


de Grigny Verbum Supernum 
Escaich Evocation IV 
Brahms 11 Chorale Preludes, Op.122, 10. Herzlich tut mich verlangen 
Escaich Etude-Choral, O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden 
Alain Variations sur un thème de Clément Jannequin 
Alain Litanies 
Elgar Organ Sonata, Op.28 
Escaich Improvised Symphony 


Seattle


Dupré Le monde dans l'attente du Sauveur from Symphonie-Passion, Op.23
Brahms Prelude and Fugue in G minor
Escaich Improvisation in the Romantic Style, On a Submitted Theme
Brahms 11 Chorale Preludes, Op.122, No.2, “Herzliebster Jesu”
Escaich Choral Etude No.3, “Herzliebster Jesu”
J.S. Bach Chorale Prelude, BWV 615, “In dir ist die Freude”
Escaich Choral Etude No.1, “Nun freut euch, ihr Christen”
Brahms 11 Chorale Prelude, Op. 122, No.10, “Herzlich tut mich verlangen”
Escaich Choral Etude No.4, “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden”
J.S. Bach Chorale Prelude, BWV 627a, “Christ ist erstanden”
Escaich Choral Etude No. 5, “Christ ist erstanden”
Vierne Romance and Finale from Symphony No. 4 in G minor, Op. 32
Escaich Improvised Tryptique on Two Submitted Themes


Slovenia


Dupré Symphonie-Passion Op.23
Vierne Méditation Op.31 No.7
Vierne Symphony for Organ No.4 Op.32 - Romance et Final
Escaich Trois poemes pour orgue
Messiaen L´Ascension 'Alleluias sereins d'une âme qui désire le Ciel'
Duruflé Suite for Organ Op.5 - Toccata


Chamber music and collaborations


Escaich offers a number of interesting recital combinations, including:


Organ & cello with Christian-Pierre La Marca
Organ & accordion with Richard Galliano
Organ & percussion
Organ and choir
Piano & string quartet (including Escaich La Bal)

Silent film improvisations

Thierry Escaich regularly performs ‘ciné-concerts’ where he gives improvised accompaniments to silent films, either on piano or organ. These films can range from short animation, to feature length, familiar titles such as the following:


The Phantom of the Opera (1925, dir. R. Julian)
Metropolis (1927, dir. F. Lang)
La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc [The Passion of Joan of Arc] (1928, dir. C. T. Dreyer)
L’Aurore [Sunrise] (1927, dir. F.W. Murnau)
The Wind (1928, dir. Victor Sjöström) 


Highlights include at the Konzerthaus Berlin, Mariinsky Theatre, Philharmonie de Paris, Auditorium de Lyon, Bratislava Symphony Hall and Maison symphonique de Montréal.

There are vast torrents of notes – yet such is their energy and buoyancy that the listener is carried irresistibly in the flow. To counterbalance this apparently unstoppable force, Escaich concerns himself with structure and, in characteristically French fashion, also explores the colour and timbres of sound, with sometimes cataclysmic peaks.

Guardian, January 2015

His concerto exploits the full sonic and colour ranges of the orchestra and organ in this thrilling three-movement work, the second rising to an awe-inspiring climax only topped by the shattering coda of the finale.

Gramophone, September 2014

In these works one can recognise the essential qualities of Escaich’s music; the originality of his harmonies, the richness of his orchestration and an unerring understanding of form. If Thierry Escaich has become the pre-eminent composer of his generation, it is through the value of his poetic ideas and the glorious atmosphere he creates, penetrated with lyrical impulses.

L’Express, May 2011

Intermusica represents Thierry Escaich worldwide

Catherine Gibbs
Associate Director
+44 20 7608 9946
cgibbs@intermusica.co.uk

Maebh Lehane
Assistant Artist Manager
+44 20 7608 9924
mlehane@intermusica.co.uk

If you have any queries, please fill in the form below, and we will be in touch soon

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Chansonnier

HK Gruber

Special projects

Charles Hazlewood

Counter-tenor

Tim Mead

Rupert Enticknap

Piano accompanist

Roger Vignoles