Jean Ferrard: “Teachers and Pupils of the North German Baroque, from Sweelinck to Bach”

Belgian organist Jean Ferrard visited Cornell University last March as one of the featured soloists for Keyboard Culture in Eighteenth-Century Berlin, the conference and festival inaugurating the new baroque organ in Anabel Taylor Chapel. He will return to Ithaca to perform a solo organ recital on Tuesday, November 8, at 8:00 PM.

Ferrard’s program features works by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Jakob Praetorius, Matthias Weckmann, Franz Tunder, Dieterich Buxtehude, and Johann Sebastian Bach in that order. The order is significant in that the structure connects all of them: each was the student of the preceding one. The only exception is Tunder, whose links are more familial: he was the best man at Weckmann’s wedding, before becoming Buxtehude’s father in law! Sweelinck’s Fantasia uses a ten-note theme of which the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth are the well-known motif B.A.C.H., which is merely accidental. One of the very first musical compositions deliberately making use of the musical alphabet to quote Bach’s name as a theme is BWV 998 (Prelude and Fugue in B-flat Major on the name Bach); attributed to J. S. Bach, this is the work that closes the program.

Ferrard studied organ at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels and privately with Marie-Claire Alain in Paris. He won several prizes in international organ competitions and furthered his education with a degree in musicology from the Free University of Brussels. Ferrard’s activities encompass all aspects of the organ and organ performance. In addition to his recordings, concert performances, and seminars, he has served as producer of Le magazine de l’orgue for the Belgian national classical radio station (Radio 3) since 1975. He has published scholarly editions of early organ music including the works of Lambert Chaumont and Francois Roberday, for Heugel (Paris) and Peeter Cornet for VNM (Utrecht). In 1985, after twenty years in broadcasting (during which he became Head of Music of RTBF3), he decided to devote himself exclusively to teaching, performance, and musicological research.

Emeritus professor of organ at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, Ferrard devotes a large part of his time to an energetic role in the conservation of the old organs of Wallonia, and has published the Inventory of the Organs of Brabant Wallon. A regular member of international juries (for competitions that include those in Geneva, Munich, Chartres, Toulouse, and Bruges), he was visiting professor of organ at McGill University (Montreal) in 1988.