Heralded as “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,”—Mr. Jacobs is an eloquent champion of his instrument both in the United States and abroad.
Mr. Jacobs has transfixed audiences, colleagues, and critics alike with landmark performances of the complete works for solo organ by J.S. Bach and Messiaen. 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, Mr. 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 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. Mr. 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.
During the 2022-2023 season Paul Jacobs returns to the Philadelphia Orchestra led by Nicholas McGegan and later in recital; the Nashville Symphony and Giancarlo Guerrero completing a recording of American organ concerti; the Pacific Symphony and Carl. St. Clair at Christ Cathedral in celebration of the Hazel Organ; the Charlotte Symphony led by Christopher Warren Green and in recital; and with the Hartford Symphony with Carolyn Kuhn as part of the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival. Recital appearances this season include a return to Walt Disney Hall presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Naples and Winter Park, Florida, Short Hills, NJ;,Sioux Falls, SD, and the Oregon Bach Festival.
In the 2021-22 season Paul Jacobs made debuts with the Warsaw Philharmonic in the Lou Harrison Organ Concerto led by Alexander Shelley, and with the NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic both in recital and with the Horatio Parker Organ Concerto and Guilmant’s Organ Symphony in D Minor led by frequent collaborator Giancarlo Guerrero. He returns to the Chicago Symphony for Handel Organ Concerti led by Dame Jane Glover, and debuts with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project in an organ spectacular featuring the Jongen Symphonie Concertante and Paulus Grand Concerto conducted by Gil Rose. In recital he can be heard with the Pacific Symphony, the University of Chicago Presents, Parlance Chamber Concerts, the Eccles Organ Festival, and with the Bethlehem Music Series.
Mr. Jacobs studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, double-majoring with John Weaver for organ and Lionel Party for harpsichord, 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 addition to his concert and teaching appearances, Mr. Jacobs is a frequent performer at festivals across the world, and has appeared on American Public Media’s Performance Today, Pipedreams, and Saint Paul Sunday, as well as NPR’s Morning Edition, ABC-TV’s World News Tonight, and BBC Radio 3. In 2017 he received an honorary doctorate from Washington and Jefferson College.