Pierre Pincemaille

Pierre-Marie Pincemaille (8 December 1956 – 12 January 2018) was a French organist, improviser, and pedagogue. He was known for his organ improvisations, both in concert and on CD and for his recordings of Charles-Marie Widor's complete organ symphonies played on organs built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll,[1][2] as well as his recordings of the complete organ works of Maurice Duruflé and César Franck, and organ works of Pierre Cochereau and Louis Vierne in particular.

Pierre Pincemaille
Pierre Pincemaille, 2004
Background information
Born8 December 1956
Paris 17e, France
Died12 January 2018(2018-01-12) (aged 61)
Suresnes, France
Occupation(s)Improviser, organist, pedagogue
Years active1973-2017


Pincemaille was born in Paris and began piano studies in 1965; in 1968, he started to study the organ. He graduated from the Paris Conservatory with five first prizes (in harmony, counterpoint, fugue, organ, and improvisation) and was taught by Henri Challan, Jean-Claude Raynaud, Marcel Bitsch and Rolande Falcinelli.[3][4][5]

He was appointed titular organist at the Basilica of St Denis in St Denis (near Paris) in 1987.[6] He was succeeded in June 2018 by his student Quentin Guérillot.[7]

Between 1978 and 1990, he won five international organ competitions:

  • 1978: First Prize at the Concours International d'Improvisation in Lyon
  • 1987: Grand Prix at the Concours Européen d'Orgue in Beauvais
  • 1989: First Prize at the Concours International d'Improvisation in Strasbourg
  • 1989: Grand Prix at the Concours International d'Improvisation in Montbrison
  • 1990: Grand Prix in improvisation at the Concours de Chartres[8]

He was a professor of counterpoint at the Paris Conservatory, professor of organ improvisation at the Regional Conservatory in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, and professor of harmony and counterpoint at the Regional Conservatory in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

He is known to be a master of improvisation.[9] As an improviser, he improvised during the ceremonies at the Basilica of Saint-Denis, and his recitals, in the tradition of French organ school.[10]

As a composer, he has published an Ave Maria for mixed choir a capella (Lyon: À coeur joie, 2013), En Louisiane for trombone and piano (Sampzon: Delatour France, 2004), and Prologue et Noël varié for organ (Sampzon: Delatour France, 2007). In November 2017, three motets (Pater Noster; Ave Maria; Ave Verum), published with A coeur joie editions[11] received their premiere performance at the Basilica of St. Denis.

He gave more than 1000 concerts and recitals all around the world (France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Japan, Canada, USA, South Africa...).[12]

He was Chevalier de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques, Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and Chevalier de l'Ordre de Saint-Grégoire-le-Grand.

Pincemaille died on 12 January 2018, at the local hospital in Suresnes, of lung cancer, aged 61.[13][14][15] After his death, some events were given in memoriam, like concerts or radio broadcasts.[16]


Pierre Pincemaille recorded around twenty CDs, among which:


  • Völker, Elke: "Der Reiz perfekter Illusion. Ein Interview mit dem Pariser Organisten und Starimprovisator Pierre Pincemaille" (Organ – Journal für die Orgel 1, no. 1 (1998): 18–21).
  • Pincemaille, Pierre: L'improvisateur à Notre-Dame. In: Pierre Cochereau: Témoignages, ed. Yvette Carbou. Bourg-la-Reine: Zurfluh, 1999, 271–339. ISBN 2-87750-087-X.
  • Pincemaille, Pierre: L'improvisateur à Notre-Dame. In: Pierre Cochereau: Un art d'illusioniste, ed. Yvette Carbou. Sampzon: Delatour France, 2014, 263–338. ISBN 978-2-7521-0124-2.

Pierre Pincemaille was also involved in the DVD "The genius of Cavaille Coll" (BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014).[18]


  1. Gingras, Claude (29 September 2008). "Pincemaille: la science de l'orgue". La Presse. Retrieved 26 June 2014 (in French).
  2. Adrian Jack (20 January 2012). Widor: Organ Symphonies (complete). BBC Music Magazine. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  3. Saison musicale Marseille Concerts 2010-2011, p. 21. Retrieved 26 June 2014 (in French).
  4. RCF (Radios chrétiennes francophones). "Pierre Pincemaille: Un personnage hors du commun", broadcast 28 September 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2014 (in French).
  5. Dubois, Pierre (17 January 2018). "Pierre Pincemaille (1956 – 2018)". Classical Music Magazine. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  6. Diocèse de Saint-Denis-en-France (2012). Pierre Pincemaille aux Grandes Orgues de la cathédrale Saint-Denis. Retrieved 26 June 2014 (in French).
  7. Diocèse de Saint-Denis-en-France (2018). Quentin Guérillot, nouvel organiste de la Basilique cathédrale Saint-Denis. Retrieved 31 August 2019 (in French).
  8. "Concours 1990". Association des grandes orgues de Chartres. Retrieved 26 February 2018 (in French).
  9. "Pierre Pincemaille in concert at the Co-Cathedral "Paris in Houston"". CultureMap Houston. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  10. Siegel, Stefan A. (22 November 2002). "Pincemaille incorporates French tradition of improvising into Bethlehem concert". The Morning Call. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  11. Website of A coeur joie editions
  12. "Parisian organist will play in Portland". Sunjournal.com. 16 April 2004. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  13. Marie-Aude Roux (15 January 2018). "Pierre Pincemaille, une vie à la tribune de Saint-Denis". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  14. Sofia Anastasio (15 January 2018). "Décès de l'organiste Pierre Pincemaille". France Musique. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  15. The Diapason, march 18th 2018 p.10. Pierre Pincemaille dead at 61
  16. Organroxx. "In memoriam Pierre Pincemaille", broadcast 16 February 2018. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  17. The Organ (November 2012). "Cavaillé-Coll New DVD and CD Set". Retrieved 26 June 2014 via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  18. "The Genius of Cavaillé-Coll". Fugue State Film. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
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