T’S A STRUGGLE that every church organist knows all too well: you want to glorify God and provide beauty to your congregation by playing new repertoire regularly. But you haven’t had adequate practice time since college. You probably have a day job and a family. And easier organ music often doesn’t seem worth playing, musically speaking.
What to do? You could spend hours searching the internet for those rare interesting-yet-playable gems. Or you could head straight to IMSLP and look up Gaël Liardon.
Who Is Gaël Liardon?
Gaël Liardon was a brilliant composer and keyboard player who died in 2018 just two months shy of 45 years old. In terms of digital footprint, he’s a mysterious figure; his Wikipedia page contains only seven sentences and offers no details on his tragic death. Fortunately for us all, this brilliant Swiss musician left behind several dozen fine organ compositions on IMSLP.
On the day Liardon died, his friend and fellow Swiss keyboardist Benjamin Righetti went to St. Francois in Lausanne (where he is the titular organist) and recorded Liardon’s O heiliger Geist, o heiliger Gott. This trio is my favorite of Liardon’s organ works and an excellent introduction to his compositional style:
Finding Liardon’s Music
As I mentioned, many of Liardon’s compositions are available on IMSLP. (The usual warnings about copyrights apply.) He wrote beautiful, sophisticated pieces on many famous hymn tunes. Even as an advanced beginner, I’ve found some of them quite accessible. There are fuguettes that don’t even require pedals.
My organ teacher sent me a link to the trio above just days after Liardon died. It was a poignant experience to “meet” such an impressive composer from my generation yet realize that he had already passed into eternity. I’m puzzled that Benjamin Righetti’s performance has only garnered 11,000 views, especially considering that I’m responsible for several hundred of those.
Keep this talented man’s music alive—and breathe new life into your repertoire—by exploring Gaël Liardon’s compositions today.