Organ and Improvisation Study in the French Conservatoire System

Michel Bouvard

For the past 30 years Michel Bouvard has had a double career as a concert artist and a professor of organ. Recognized as an interpreter of French repertoire, he is regularly invited to perform internationally on historic organs in Europe and in concert halls throughout Asia and North America. Bouvard has given more than 1,000 concerts in more than 25 countries. In the past few years he has performed in New York, Tokyo, Madrid, Montreal, Milan, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Brussels, St. Petersburg, Seoul, London, Leipzig, New Orleans and San Francisco, among others. In 2016, Bouvard will present the opening recital at the American Guild of Organists’ national convention in Houston, Texas. Dedicated to the organ music of François Couperin, one of Bouvard’s first recordings (1992, Sony) was recently rereleased and named one of the “indispensables” (indispensable recordings of the year) by the magazine Diapason.

Michel Bouvard was inspired by his grandfather, organist and composer Jean Bouvard, who had been a student of Louis Vierne. He received his early training at the Paris Conservatory, where he was later accepted into the organ and improvisation classes of André Isoir. He also studied with the Church of St. Séverin (Paris) organists Jean Boyer, Francis Chapelet, and Michel Chapuis. In 1983, Bouvard won first prize at the Toulouse International Organ Competition, marking his career debut. Appointed in 1985 by Xavier Darasse to succeed him in directing the organ class at the Toulouse Conservatory, Bouvard organized concerts, organ tours, master classes, and the international organ competition with colleague Jan Willem Jansen. These efforts culminated in the 1996 creation of the international organ festival Toulouse les Orgues, which Bouvard directed for seven years, and the establishment of the Centre d’études supérieures de musique et de danse de Toulouse. In 1995, Bouvard was named professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory along with his colleague Olivier Latry. Together they have developed a pedagogic method that attracts international organists with diverse career goals to the program.

In fall 2013, Bouvard was invited to join the organ faculty at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, New York) as a professor-in-residence. He held a similar teaching residency at Yale University in 2015 and will complete another at the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2016.

Since 1996, Bouvard has been the titular organist of the Cavaillé-Coll organ at the Romanesque Basilica of St. Sernin in Toulouse. In 2010 he was named one of the four principal organists of the Chapel Royal at the Palace of Versailles. Bouvard is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (knight of arts and letters), a national and cultural honor in France.