Sophie-Veronique Cauchefer-Choplin began organ studies at the age of 14 with Gérard Letellier. She went on to earn Premier Prix from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris in organ and improvisation with Rolande Falcinelli, harmony with Jean Lemaire, fugue with Michel Merlet, and counterpoint with Jean-Claude Henry. She continued studies with Loïc Mallié, eventually winning the second improvisation prize in the Concours International d’Orgue de Chartres in 1990 when Pierre Pincemaille won first place. In 1985, she became titulaire adjointe with Daniel Roth at Saint-Sulpice in Paris. In 2008, she became professor of organ and improvisation at the Royal College of Music in London.
Jacques Taddei (1946-2012) was organist titulaire at the Basilique Sainte-Clotilde from 1993 to 2012. He began as co-titulaire in 1987 and was the successor to Jean Langlais. His successor is Olivier Pénin. He also served as Director of the CNR de Paris (1987-2004), Director of Music for Radio France (2005-2006), and Director of the Musée Marmottan in Paris (2007-2012).
He studied organ with Pierre Cochereau and Marie-Claire Alain. In 1980, he won the Grand Prix d’improvisation in the Concours international d’orgue de Chartres.
Noël Hazebroucq was born in Paris in 1979. After completing musical studies at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris-CNR, the CNR in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés he obtained diplomas from the École Nationale de Musique in Orléans and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon. In 2004, he won the “Grand Prix d’improvisation” of the City of Paris and the second prize ex-aequo and the Public Prize at the international organ competition “Grand Prix de Chartres”. He teaches at the Conservatoire international de musique de Paris (8ème), and is organiste titulaire at the Temple des Batignolles in Paris.
Frédéric Blanc was assistant organist at Saint-Sernin de Toulouse (1987-1995). A finalist of the International Improvisation Competition of Strasbourg in 1989, he has also been a prize winner of several other International Improvisations competitions, including Nuremberg (1996) and 2nd Prize in the Grand Prize of Chartres. In 1997, he was awarded the Grand Prize of the city of Paris, an international competition. Frédéric Blanc maintains an active career as a concert artist throughout Europe, as well as making several concert tours in the USA. He has recorded several CD for EMI, Aeolus, Motette devoted to improvisation and organ literature. Since 1999, Frédéric Blanc has served as organist at Notre Dame d’Auteuil, Paris.
Winner of the Grand Prix d’Improvisation à Chartres in 1982, Loïc Mallié teaches musical writing and improvisation at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon. In February 2011, he was appointed organist of the main organ of La Trinité in Paris.
You can hear him on Spotify.
While decidedly fewer in number than competitions in organ performance, there are still a few improvisation competitions that take place. Below are brief descriptions of different competitions with links to the competition website for more information.
The competition in improvisation consists of a pre-selection recorded round, two live eliminatory rounds (¼ finals and ½ finals) and a final round. The final round will take place on the great organ in Chartres Notre-Dame Cathedral. The competition takes place every four years with the next one anticipated to be in 2016.
The Haarlem International Organ Competition takes place every year in July and is open to organists under the age of 40. A pre-selection recorded round selects eight applicants to compete live in two elimination rounds. The final competition will take place on the Müller organ (1738 / IIIP / 62) in St Bavo’s Church.
The American Guild of Organists National Competition in Organ Improvisation takes place every other year during the national convention of the American Guild of Organists. The competition is open to all organists regardless of age or citizenship.
With the encouragement of Pierre Cochereau, Philippe Lefebvre began organ studies at the Conservatoire de Lille before entering the class of Rolande Falcinelli at the Conservatoire de Paris. He won the premier prix for improvisation at the international Lyon competition in 1972 and then the grand prix for improvisation at the international Chartres competition. In 1976, he was appointed organist titulaire at Chartres cathedral. In 1985, Philippe Lefèbvre was awarded the post of one of four titulaires des grands orgue of Notre-Dame, Paris alongside Yves Devernay, Olivier Latry and Jean-Pierre Leguay, following the death of Pierre Cochereau. Full bio. You can hear him on Spotify.