Paul Jacobs

Paul Jacobs

Heralded as “one of the finest organists and teachers of our day,” by Zachary Woolfe of The New York Times, “one of the major musicians of our time” by Alex Ross of The New Yorker and as “America’s leading organ performer” by The Economist, the internationally celebrated organist Paul Jacobs combines a probing intellect and extraordinary technical mastery with an unusually large repertoire, both old and new. He has performed to great critical acclaim on five continents and in each of the fifty United States. The only organist ever to have won a Grammy Award—in 2011 for Messiaen’s towering “Livre du Saint-Sacrément,”—Jacobs is an eloquent champion of his instrument both in the United States and abroad.

During the 2023-24 season, Paul Jacobs returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic twice: for the 20th Anniversary celebration of Walt Disney Hall, a gala concert with Gustavo Dudamel that will be broadcast on PBS’s Great Performances; and in a performance of Lou Harrison’s Organ Concerto with Esa Pekka Salonen.  A special season highlight is the premiere of a new organ concerto written for him by Lowell Liebermann, with performances at the Jacksonville Symphony and the Oregon Bach Festival.  Other orchestral appearances include a return to the Chicago Symphony for the Barber Toccata Festiva, the Stephen Paulus Grand Concerto for Organ with the Toledo Symphony, Michael Daugherty’s Once Upon a Castle with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, and John Harbison’s What Do We Make of Bach? with the New England Philharmonic.  Recital highlights include Messiaen’s Livre du Saint-Sacrement at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, with additional recitals presented by the Nashville Symphony, the Edmonton Symphony, and Tryon Concert Association, among others.

Jacobs has transfixed audiences, colleagues, and critics alike with landmark performances of the complete works for solo organ by J.S. Bach and Messiaen. Twenty years ago, he made musical history at age 23 when he gave an 18-hour marathon performance of Bach’s complete organ works on the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death. A fierce advocate of new music, Jacobs has premiered works by Samuel Adler, Mason Bates, Michael Daugherty, Bernd Richard Deutsch, John Harbison, Wayne Oquin, Stephen Paulus, Christopher Theofanidis, and Christopher Rouse, among others. As a teacher he has also been a vocal proponent of the redeeming nature of traditional and contemporary classical music.

No other organist is repeatedly invited as soloist to perform with prestigious orchestras, thus making him a pioneer in the movement for the revival of symphonic music featuring the organ. Jacobs regularly appears with the Chicago Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, Nashville Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Toledo Symphony, and Utah Symphony, among others.

Jacobs studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with organist John Weaver and harpsichordist Lionel Party, and at Yale University with Thomas Murray. He joined the faculty of The Juilliard School in 2003, and was named chairman of the organ department in 2004, one of the youngest faculty appointees in the school’s history. He received Juilliard’s prestigious William Schuman Scholar’s Chair in 2007. In 2017 he received an honorary doctorate from Washington and Jefferson College. In 2021, The American Guild of Organists named him recipient of the International Performer of the Year Award. Mr. Jacobs has written several articles for the Wall Street Journal.