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Thierry Escaich

Composer, Organ
Organist in Residence, Dresden Philharmonie

  • 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 virtuosic performer, interpreter and creator at the highest level.

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  • 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 virtuosic performer, interpreter and creator at the highest level.


    Escaich composes works in many genres and forms, including opera, symphonic and chamber music. 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, jazz, popular and spiritual music, the distinctive sound-world of Escaich’s music is anchored by an obsessive rhythmic drive and compelling architecture. Escaich’s works are performed by leading orchestras in Europe and North America and by musicians such as Lisa Batiashvili, François Leleux, Andris Nelsons, Alain Altinoglu, Louis Langrée, Semyon Bychkov, Paavo Järvi, Alan Gilbert, Emmanuelle Bertrand and Paul Meyer.


    Major works in Escaich’s catalogue include 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, soon followed by a second full-length opera, Shirine, premiered at the Opéra de Lyon in May 2022. His chamber opera, Point d’orgue, received its commissioned premieres by Opéra National de Bordeaux and Opéra Théâtre de Saint-Étienne in 2022. Recent new works include a Flute Concerto premiered by the Rotterdam Philharmonic, a Piano Concerto (Études symphoniques) for Seong-Jin Cho and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and a Cello Concerto for Gautier Capuçon co-commissioned by Gewandhaus zu Leipzig and Boston Symphony Orchestra.


    Works for organ are an important feature of Escaich’s music and they are performed by organists around the world, including solo and chamber works, three concerti, and the symphonic poem La Barque solaire for organ and orchestra. Escaich’s Organ Concerto No.1 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.”  Escaich made his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic in 2022 and has also appeared as soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, and Concerto Budapest. Escaich was Organist and Composer in Residence at the Dresdner Philharmonie in the 22/23 season.


    Thierry Escaich is 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.


    A major highlight of the 2023/24 season will be the world premiere of a new Violin Concerto for Renaud Capuçon, premiered by the Munich Philharmonic and toured to the Paris Philharmonie, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Vienna Musikverein. The Munich Philharmonic will also give the German premiere of piano concerto Études symphoniques with Seong-Jin Cho, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, and in the same week, Escaich performs a programme of chamber music with musicians from the orchestra. In May 2024, a new concertante work for violin and orchestra will be premiered at the Queen Elisabeth Competition. Escaich will perform as concerto soloist with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Wrocław Philharmonic and Pacific Symphony. Also this season, Escaich performs recitals at Glasgow Cathedral Festival, St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral Edinburgh, Collégiale Saint-Thiébaut in Thann, Konzerthaus Dortmund, Brucknerhaus Linz and Festival Kirchklang.


    Many of Escaich’s works have been recorded by Accord/Universal. His 2011 release Les Nuits hallucinées crowned his residency with the Orchestre National de Lyon and received numerous distinctions, including a ‘Choc de l’année’ from Classica magazine as an outstanding release of the year. The first production of Claude was released on DVD (BelAir Classiques). Other releases include Baroque Song on Sony Classical, Aria with Richard Galliano, Fusion with the Ellipsos Saxophone Quartet and Cris with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.  


    Thierry Escaich has been honoured by five ‘Victoires de la Musique’ awards (2003, 2006, 2011, 2017 and 2022) and continues to teach 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, and in 2018 he took the prestigious role of Featured Composer at the Radio France Présences Festival.

    2023/24 season / 794 words. Not to be altered without permission.

Performances

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Livestreams & Broadcasts

Orchestre National de Lille | January 2021 
Thierry Escaich: Organ Concerto No.1
Alexandre Bloch (conductor)
Click to watch on YouTube


Zaryadye Hall Recital | February 2021
Click to watch on YouTube

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
Semyon Bychkov
Joanna Carneiro
Stéphane Denève
Olari Elts
Mikko Franck
Valery Gergiev 
Alan Gilbert
Antony Hermus
Paavo Järvi
Louis Langrée
Jun Märkl
Andrés Orozco-Estrada
Jérémie Rhorer
Pascal Rophé
Leonard Slatkin
Joseph Swensen
Juraj Valcuha 
Kazuki Yamada 
Christian Zacharias

Organ Concerto repertoire

Concerto Repertoire


Barber Toccata Festiva
Copland Symphony for Organ & Orchestra
Escaich Organ Concerto No.1  
Escaich Organ Concerto No.2 
Escaich Organ Concerto No.3 Quatre Visages du temps 
Escaich La Barque solaire 
Poulenc Concerto for Organ in G minor (with strings and timpani)
Saint-Saëns Symphony No.3 in C minor, ‘Organ’


Escaich performs Escaich


Thierry Escaich has composed several works for solo organ and orchestra which he performs himself, as soloist.


“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


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 + 2 perc - strings


Escaich Organ Concerto No.3 Quatre Visages du temps (with symphony orchestra)
Published by Billaudot. Duration: 32 mins
Scored for: solo organ + 2.2.2.2 – 2.2.2.0 – 2 perc - strings (8-6-4-4-2)
Listen here


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)


Escaich Suite Symphonique - d'après de l'opéra Claude
Published by Billaudot. Duration: 20 mins
Scored for: solo organ + 2.2.2.2 – 4.3.3.0 – timp, 2 perc, cel, harp, acc - strings 

Recitals & Chamber Collaborations

Thierry Escaich is a celebrated recitalist with a huge following. He performs in all the major organ series such as Paris Philharmonie, Berlin Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus, BBC Proms, Mariinsky Theatre, Royal Festival Hall, Berlin Konzerthaus, New York, Boston, Seattle, Toronto, Tokyo, Dresden, Madrid and across Europe. Escaich offers a range of recital repertoire on request and usually includes improvisations in his programmes, 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 


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


Thierry Escaich & Tchalik Quartet
Thierry Escaich Improvisation for Solo Organ
Mozart Church Sonatas For Organ & Strings: No.17 in C major, K.336
Mozart Church Sonatas For Organ & Strings: No.15 in C major, K.328
Mozart Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K.546 for string quartet
Sigfrid Karg-Elert Zwei Stücke, Op.48A for organ and string quartet
Mozart Fantasia in F minor, KV 608 for organ and quartet (transciption)
Interval
Mendelssohn 4 pieces for String Quartet, Op.81: I. Tema con Variazioni
Thierry Escaich Improvisation for Solo Organ
Mendelssohn 4 pieces for String Quartet, Op.81: III. Capriccio
Thierry Escaich Improvisation for Solo Organ
Thierry Escaich Après l'aurore for organ and quartet (world premiere 2022)
Saint-Saëns Duos, Op.8 for organ and quartet (transcription)


Chamber music and collaborations


Escaich performs chamber collaborations including:
Organ & saxophone Quartet with Ellipsos Quartet (including Piazzola, Bach transcriptionns, improvisations)
Organ & string quartet with Tchalik Quartet (new work 2022)
Organ & cello 
Organ & accordion with Richard Galliano
Organ & percussion
Organ & 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.


Watch an extract from a recent performance here.

Thierry Escaich & Quatuor Ellipsos

Thierry Escaich together with Quatuor Ellipsos perform a refreshing programme of works for organ and saxophone quartet, including arrangements of works by Bach, Schumann and Piazzolla and Escaich.


J.S. Bach: Organ Concerto in C major, BWV.595
- organ and saxophone quartet (arr Escaich/Herrouët)


J.S. Bach: Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV.659 
- saxophone quartet (arr Herrouët)


Thierry Escaich: Improvisation for Solo Organ


R. Schumann: Six Fugues on B-A-C-H, Op. 60: Fugue N°5
- saxophone quartet (arr Herrouët)


Thierry Escaich: Improvisation for Solo Organ


J.S. Bach: Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV.1060R 
- organ and saxophone quartet (arr Escaich/Herrouët)


Interval


J.S. Bach/Vivaldi: Organ Concerto in A minor, BWV.593 
- organ and saxophone quartet (arr Herrouët)


Thierry Escaich: Trois poèmes pour orgue: "Eaux Natales", "le Masque" et "Vers l'espérance" 
- organ and saxophone quartet (arr Escaich/Herrouët)


Piazzolla: Oblivion: Fuga Y Misterio 
- organ and saxophone quartet (arr Escaich/Herrouët)


Thierry Escaich: Improvisation for Solo Organ


Piazzolla: Fugata 
- organ and saxophone quartet (arr Escaich/Herrouët)


Watch: Bach Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, arranged for organ and saxophone quartet


www.quatuorellipsos.com 

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

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

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

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Intermusica represents Thierry Escaich worldwide

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

Lucy Evans
Assistant Artist Manager
+44 20 7608 9940
levans@intermusica.com

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

All artists

Chansonnier

HK Gruber

Counter-tenor

Tim Mead

Harpsichord

Richard Egarr

Piano accompanist

Roger Vignoles

Saxophone

Jess Gillam

Contralto

Avery Amereau