In memory of Jeanne Demessieux (1921 - 1968)

Jeanne Demessieux (1921-1968), organiste & componiste

French organist and composer Jeanne Demessieux (1921 – 1968) was legendary even during her lifetime. Her art of playing enchanted the hearts of many listeners in the UK, the Netherlands and in many other European countries and also in the United States and Canada. “She came, she played, she conquered,” was a journalist’s brief summary. Critics praised her musicality, technique and talent for improvisation. She played most of the concerts by heart – she went to America without a sheet music. All of this contributed to her status as an exceptional genius.

Festivo has released several CDs with recordings of Jeanne Demessieux, initiated by the Dutch organist Herman van Vliet (1941 – 2018) who was a great admirer of Jeanne Demessieux. He heard her perform several times. Over the years he had collected all kinds of documents on her: articles, reviews, scientific contributions. But also unpublished recordings. Herman also received archival documents from the heir of concert organizer Hazelzet, so there are also personal letters in his collection. Unfortunately for the English speaking visitors, most of the documents are in Dutch. Some texts are in English, maybe that will console you a little. Here you will also find historical recordings of Demessieux, quite a few photos and several interesting links.

On the occasion of her hundredth anniversary, an unpublished manuscript by Jeanne Demessieux is published on this site: “Etude en forme de Canon” by Robert Schumann. After writing it in 1950, she gave it to Antoinette Hazelzet, the concert organizer’s daughter, as a memorable souvenir of her concerts in the Netherlands.