French organist Olivier Latry is considered one of the most notable organists of his generation, not only in France, but on the international scene as well. He was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, in 1962 where he began his musical studies. He later attended the Academy of Music at St. Maur-des-Fossés, studying organ with Gaston Litaize.
From 1981 to 1985, Olivier Latry was titular organist of Meaux Cathedral and at the age 23 he won a competition to become one of the three titular organists of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, beside Philippe Lefebvre and Jean-Pierre Leguay, succeding Pierre Cochereau. In 1990 he succeeded his teacher, Gaston Litaize, as an organ professor at the Academy of Music at St. Maur-des-Fossés. In 1995 he became organ professor at the Paris Conservatory. He still runs this position with Michel Bouvard.
Olivier Latry, who has performed in more than 50 countries on five continents, considers himself an ambassador of 17th to 20th Century French organ music. Today he is counted among the most noted “improvisers” in the French tradition. He has also a particular interest in contemporary music and has premiered works of French composers Xavier Darasse, Claude Ballif, Thierry Pécout, Vincent Paulet, Thierry Escaich, and Jean-Louis Florentz. In early 2000 he performed three complete cycles (six recitals each) of the organ music of Olivier Messiaen, at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City and at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. These performances were followed by a recording for Deutsche Grammophon of the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.
In addition to concerts and teaching, Olivier Latry has several CDs to his credit, including music of Bach, Widor’s Symphonies 5 and 6, Vierne’s Symphonies 2 and 3, and the complete works of Duruflé. With Deutsche Grammophon, he has recorded a transcription programme called Midnight at Notre-Dame, and a CD of works by César Franck. More recently, he recorded the Poulenc Concerto and the Barber Toccata Festiva with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Jongen Symphonie concertante with the Liège Orchestra.
For his work in the field of organ performance and studies, Olivier Latry was awarded the Prix de la Fondation Cino et Simone Del Duca in 2000, as well as a Fellowship “Honoris Causa” from the North and Midlands School of Music in 2006, and from the Royal College of organists in 2007.