Jean Langlais

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Jean Langlais (1907-1991) was a French composer, organist, and improviser.[1]

  • 1907 born in La Fontenelle[2]
  • Was blind since the age of two[3]
  • He studied with Marchal at the Institution des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris
  • He took First prize in organ at the Paris Conservatoire in 1930
  • In 1931, he received the “Grand Prix d’Execution et Improvisation des Amis de l’Orgue”, after having studied improvisation with Charles Tournemire[4]
  • He took second prize in composition in 1934
  • 1932 He was the organist at St. Pierre-de-Montrouge
  • He also joined the staff at the blind school where he studied. He taught composition and organ
  • Professor for forty years at the National Institute for the Young Blind[5]
  • In 1945, he became the successor to Cesar Franck and Charles Tournemire at the prestigious organ tribune of Sainte-Clotilde in Paris. He left that position in 1987 at the age of 80, having been titular for 42 years[6]
  • 1952 He made his first concert tour of the USA and performed more than 300 concerts in North America[7]
  • Professor for forty years at the National Institute for the Young Blind[8]
  • 1962-1975 he taught at the Schola Cantorum in Paris
  • 1991 died in Paris


The contemporary French composer Jean Langlais became blind when only two years old. Despite this handicap, he became one of the most respected organists of the twentieth century. He studied at the National Institute for the Young Blind with André Marchal. In 1930 he won first prize in organ at the Paris Conservatory, studying under Marcel Dupré. At that same time Langlais received composition lessons from Paul Dukas. In 1945 he became organist of the great St. Clothilde in Paris, succeeding Frank and Tournemire. He retained that position until he was eighty years old. Langlais also taught for forty years at the National Institute for the Young Blind, where he influenced many students. He was especially notable for his excellence in teaching improvisation.

Langlais composed primarily for the organ, with over 300 pieces to his credit. His works are neo-classic, following the tradition of Tournemire in drawing on ideas from the Gregorian chant tradition and the Catholic liturgy. He enhanced them with Polymodal harmony. His attractive melodies make his music accessible and enjoyable.

Points of Interest

  • Langlais received a composition prize in Paul Dukas' class of 1934. He also received the "Grand Prix d'Exécution et Improvisation des Amis de l'Orgue" (The Friends of the Organ Grand Prize for Playing and Improvisation) in 1931 while studying with Charles Tournemire.
  • He gave over 300 recitals and innumerable master classes in the United States.

Selected Works

  • Trois paraphrases grégoriennes (Three Gregorian Paraphrases)
  • Deux offertories pour tous les temps (Five meditations on the apocalypse)
  • Hommage to Jean Philippe Rameau
  • Hommage to Frescolbaldi
  • Nine Pieces
  • Suite Baroque
  • Suite Française and
  • Suite Medieval and
  • Cinq Soleils
  • Folkloric Suite

For additional details, see the Wikipedia article.

List of Organ Works[edit]

Click to sort by opus number, title, or year of composition or publication
Opus Title Year
Op. 1 Prelude et Fugue 1927
Op. 2 Adoration des bergers
Op. 5 Trois Paraphrases Gregoriennes 1933-34
Op. 6 Vingt-Quatre Pieces for harmonium or organ 1934-39
Op. 7 Poemes Evangeliques 1932
Op. 18 Pièces en forme libre, pour orgue et orchestre
Op. 28 Thème, variation et final, pour orgue et orchestre |
Op. 29 Choral médiéval, pour 3 trompettes, 3 trombones et orgue
Op. 37 Premiere Symphonie 1941
Op. 40 Neuf Pieces 1942-43
Op. 42 Deux Offetoires pour tous les temps sur des textes gregoriens 1943
Op. 51 Fete 1946
Op. 54 Suite Breve 1947
Op. 56 Suite Medievale en forme de messe basse 1947
Op. 59 Suite Francaise 1948
Op. 61 Première concerto, pour orgue (clavecin) et orchestre
Op. 64 Incantation pour un jour saint- Dominica in Palmis 1949-1954
Op. 69 Four Postludes 1950
Op. 70 hommage a Frescobaldi 1951
Op. 77 Folkloric Suite 1952
Op. 83 Deux petites pièces dans le style médiéval Dominica in palmis
Op. 90 Huit Pieces Modales 1956
Op. 91 Organ Book 1956
Op. 94 Prélude à la messe "Orbis factor"
Op. 95 Triptyque 1956
Op. ?? Organ Pieces for the Mass 1957
Op. 96 Three Characteristic Pieces 1957
Op. ?? 13 pieces d'orgue 1959-76
Op. 97 Ave Maris Stella, Office pour la Sainte Famille
Op. 98 In Festo SS, Trinitatis
Op. 108 Miniature
Op. 111 American Suite 1961
Op. 114 Deux petites pièces dans le style médiéval 1960
Op. 128 Essai 1961
Op. 129 Trois mediations sur la Sainte Trinite 1962
Op. ?? Douze Petites Pieces 1962
Op. 134 Hommage a Rameau 1962-64
Op. 137 Prelude on Coronation
Op. 146 Poem of Life 1965
Op. 152 Poem of Peace 1966
Op. 153 Poem of Happiness 1966
Op. 155 Sonate en trio 1967
Op. 157 Livre oecuménique 1968
Op. 158 Deux Pieces 1968
Op. 161 Huit chants de Bretagne
Op. 165 Trois Implorations 1970
Op. 166 Troisième concerto, pour orgue et orchestre
Op. 167 Cinq Chorals 1971
Op. 168 Pièce pour trompette et orgue
Op. 169 Offrande a Marie 1971
Op. 170 Supplication
Op. 172 Petits préludes sur deux thèmes grégoriens
Op. 175 Cinq Mediations sur l'Apocalypse 1973
Op. 176 Suite Baroque 1973
Op. 178 Plein-jeu à la française
Op. 181 Huit Chants de Bretagne 1974
Op. 183 Celebration
Op. 184 Hommage à Louis Braille
Op. 185 Celebration, Quatre préludes
Op. 186 Trois Esquisses Romanes for one or two organs ad libitum 1975
Op. 187 Trois Esquisses Gothiques for one or two organs ad libitum 1975
Op. 189 Six petites pièces
Op. 190 Mosaique 1 1975
Op. 191 Mosaique 2 1976
Op. 195 Deuxieme Symphonie, "Alla Webern" 1976
Op. 196 Mosaique 3 1977
Op. 199 Triptyque Gregorien 1978
Op. 200 Progression 1978
Op. 204 Noels avec variations 1979
Op. 205 Prelude Gregorien
Op. 206 Offrande a une ame 1979
Op. 207 Troisieme Symphonie 1979
Op. 211 Rosace 1980
Op. 212 Chant des bergers priere des mages 1981
Op. 215 Prelude et allegro 1982
Op. 218 Cinq Soleils 1983
Op. 219 Sept Etudes de Concert for pedal solo 1983
Op. 220 Deux Pieces breves 1984
Op. ?? Huit Preludes 1984
Op. 223 Miniature II 1984
Methode d'orgue 1984
Op. 225 Talitah Koum 1985
Op. 226 Trois Pieces Faciles 1985
Op. 229 B.A.C.H., 6 Pieces for organ composed for JS Bach's Birthday 1985
Op. 230 American Folk-Hymn Settings 1985
Op. 231 In Memoriam 1985
Op. 235 Douze Versets 1986
Op. 236 Expressions 1986
Op. 237 Fantasy on Two Old Scottish Themes 1986
Op. ?? Trumpet Tune
Op. 243 Christmas Carol Hymn Settings 1988
Op. 244 Contrastes 1988
Op. 250 Mort et Resurrection 1990
Op. 251 Moonlight Scherzo 1990
Op. 252 Trois Offertoires 1990
Op. 253 Suite in Simplicitate 1990
Op. 254 Trio 1990

Background and General Perspectives on Performing Langlais Organ Works[edit]

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Registration and Organs[edit]

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See the footnote in the "Notes" section at the bottom of the page. [9]

Fingering and Pedaling[edit]

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Articulation and Phrasing[edit]

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Tempo and Meter[edit]

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Scores and Editions[edit]

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Free Online[edit]

Pipedreams radio broadcast #1119, "Langlais on Langlais."

Pipedreams radio broadcast #1124, "In Memoriam Jean Langlais."

Fete performed by Christopher Young

Pasticcio performed by Marie Ducrot, at the Church of St. Martin in Pau

Pay to Listen[edit]

Available for purchase at iTunes, "Langlais joue Langlais".

Other Resources[edit]

See the Jean Langlais website for a list of publications dealing with Langlais and his style. [1]

A DVD documentary, Life and Music of Jean Langlais, is available from the Organ Historical Society [2]


  1. Oxford Music Online, accessed 18 February 2015
  2. Jean Langlais Website,
  3. Jean Langlais Website,
  4. Jean Langlais Website,
  5. Jean Langlais Website,
  6. Jean Langlais Website,
  7. Jean Langlais Website,
  8. Jean Langlais Website,
  9. This footnote was entered in the "Registration and Organs" article

This space is for automatic insertion of footnotes. To enter a footnote from anywhere in the article, start by typing the tag <ref> and then enter the text, and type the tag </ref> to end the footnote. The footnote will then appear in this "Notes" section automatically.