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 – Jacobs is an eloquent champion of his instrument both in the United States and abroad. 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 made musical history at age 23 when he played Bach’s complete organ works in an 18-hour marathon performance on the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death. He has premiered works by Samuel Adler, Mason Bates, Michael Daugherty, Wayne Oquin, Stephen Paulus, Christopher Theofanidis, and Christopher Rouse, among others.
During the 2018/19 season, Jacobs will perform the world premiere of John Harbison’s What Do We Make of Bach? for organ and orchestra with the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vänskä; with the Cleveland Orchestra he will give the American premiere of Austrian composer Bernd Richard Deutsch’s Okeanos for organ and orchestra. Abroad, he performs Barber’s Toccata Festiva with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra. Additional orchestral engagements include performances with the Phoenix Symphony and the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. Jacobs appears in recital under the auspices of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the American Guild of Organists at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park. He continues as Director of the Oregon Bach Festival Organ Institute, a position he assumed in the summer of 2014.
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 2017, Jacobs received an honorary doctorate from Washington and Jefferson College.