The French organist, Olivier Latry, began his study of piano at the age of 7, and his study of the organ at age 12. He later attended the Academy of Music at St. Maur-des-Fossés, studying organ with Gaston Litaize. He earned numerous prizes during his conservatory years: the unanimous First Prize in Organ (1979), an Excellence Prize in Organ (1980) and the Gold Medal in Improvisation (1982). He also earned, with distinction, a Performer’s Diploma in organ. He was a finalist in the 1980 and 1982 International Competitions at Chartres (in 1980 the 18 year-old Latry was the only European finalist!).
From 1981 to 1985 Olivier Latry was titular organist of Meaux Cathedral. At age 23 he won a competition to become one of the three titular organists on the huge Cavaillé-Coll organ of the famous of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. From 1990 to 1995 he taught organ at the Academy of Music at St. Maur-des-Fossés, where he succeeded his teacher, Gaston Litaize. Since 1995 he has taught at the Paris Conservatoire, where he has succeeded Michel Chapuis.
Olivier Latry is one of the world’s most distinguished organists, not only in France, but in the international community as well. He has performed in more than 40 countries (throughout Europe, Canada, Russia, Japan and Australia.) on 5 continents, appearing most often in the USA. He made his first American tour during the fall of 1986, and has subsequently made annual tours to the USA, playing recitals in major cities coast to coast, as well as in cities throughout Canada. In addition, he has made special trips to appear for regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists as well as for inaugural recitals of new instruments and for major music festivals and summer schools (Westminster Choir College, McGill University and the San Anselmo Organ Festival). In 2005 he played a solo recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and opened the new Rieger organ at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania. In 2006 he was the featured soloist for the opening of the new Dobson organ at Verizon Hall in Philadelphia where he performed for three sold out audiences in gala concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Christoph Eschenbach.
Not wishing to specialize in a particular repertoire, Olivier Latry prefers to be an ambassador of 17th to 21st century French organ music, hence his equal devotion to the art of improvisation. Today he is counted among the most noted “improvisateurs” in the exceptional French tradition from Charles Tournemire to Pierre Cochereau. He has a particular interest in contemporary music and has premiered works of Xavier Darasse, Claude Ballif, Thierry Pecout, 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. A recording followed these performances for Deutsche Grammophon of the complete organ works of Messiaen at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.
In addition to concerts and teaching, Olivier Latry has made his mark through recordings on the BNL label in France, which include music of J.S. Bach, the complete organ works of Maurice Duruflé, Louis Vierne’s Symphonies 2 & 3, Widor’s Symphonies 5 and 6, and a recording of works by Litaize. Most recently he has recorded with Deutsche Grammophon the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen, a recording of transcriptions for the organ entitled “Midnight at Notre-Dame” and a recording entitled “In Spiritum” devoted to the organ works of César Franck.
Olivier Latry and his wife Marie-Therese have three children and live in a little village outside Paris.