Interview with Jean Guillou

Jean Guillou, on the greatest organist of the world, speaks about the organ and the possibilities to divulge organ music also outside churches.

Music has ever had a very important role in civilization: since the day we began to write music a very sophisticate language has been created complex and different from age to age. This is marvelous: the evolution of this language!

The organ has evolved as well but XXth century hasn’t brought so many changes. Mostly there has been ancient organs imitations – disgracefully, as imitations are not creations – I wanted to create instead new tones. I wanted to let organ enter into the “normal” musical world, that is not extracting organs from churches as they were built for those spaces, but today the organ has to have a life in the world, in the concert halls, with the orchestras, etcetera….

That’s why I conceived an instrument that hasn’t been built yet – still I hope someone may soon build it -. I called this instrument “Variable Structure Organ“. It has to be an instrument with 15 buffets, namely 15 boxes where the pipes are going to be placed. These 15 pieces may be spread all around the concert hall, behind the public or even on the scene and so on… In this way the organ may be closer to public’s ear and may be perceived as more living. That’s the important thing! I never taught in France.

One day a man – a great engineer in Zurich music addicted and violinist himself – wanted to create an international interpretation course. In 1970 he came here in St Eustache to see me and asked me: “Won’t you come to teach in Zurich?” Students came from Russia, from U.S.A., from all over the world, from Corea, from Japan, and for me that has been marvelous as in this way I’ve had a real contact with those young musicians that keep on bringing my music in the world, or – let’s say – my way to feel the music.

The world is wide and there are so many young people! Many young people go to concerts – perhaps someone less than a few years ago – but it’s great to see that in every nation – for instance in Germany – music is alive and it exists in nation’s culture from children’s very earl age. They do practical music singing and playing instruments.
In France there is some less music but in every nation… England is a very musical country for instance the same as Italy is even in two very different ways!

People has to learn to listen because very often we hear but don’t listen. Learn how to produce sounds, how to recognize the differents instruments that produce those different tones. We have to listen these tones and understand what is the difference between this little bird and the other one. Organ is amazing: it has an enormous amount of different instruments all in itself!”

VIDEO CREDITS
Alessandro Marangoni – Art director
Stefano Sgarella – Director
Simonetta Bruzzone – Subtitles

SPECIAL THANKS TO
Daniele Tobio
Giampiero Del Nero
Paolo Guerini

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