Seminar since 1986

The Experience of a Lifetime!


Paris, Royaumont and Rouen

Jul 22 - Jul 27, 2017



July 22-27 PARIS Five days with Yannick Merlin, Beatrice Piertot, Sophie Choplin, Gabriel Marghieri, Sophie Choplin, Thomas Ospital, and others

July 22:  Fly to Paris on Air France (included in the price)

 Improvisation Class with Gabriel Marghieri at the St-Louis Church in Vincenes, Duruflé Apartment, Organ loft of Sacre Coeur

July 23:  Organ lofts for church services, Master Classes at St-Louis-en-Ille (Bach Church) and St-Severin, St-Sulpice Master Class and playing time

July 24: Playing at La Madeleine, Royaumont playing time (Cavaille-Coll)

July 25: La Trinité, Improvisation class with Thomas Ospital and playing time at St-Eustache

July 26:  Playing time at St. Ouen, Rouen

July 27: Transatlantic flights home



The organ of Notre-Dame-des-Champs was built by by Cavaillé-Coll in 1877. In 1973, Schwenkedel altered the instrument severely, replacing the Plein Jeu progressif of the GO by a Fourniture V and Cymbale IV and adding a Plein Jeu IV on the récit. He added a Doublette, Flûte à fuseau, Sesquialtera and a Tierce on the récit (out of the old plein jeu) and on the récit he replaced the Flûte traversière by a Bourdon 8, the Flûte octaviante 4 by a Principal italien 4 et the old Octavin by a Flûte 2. He added also 4 pedal stops on a new windchest .  Former organists include René Vierne, Jean-Pierre Leguay, and Bernadette Dufourcet.  The present organists are Yannick Merlin and Philippe Ourselin.

Return to Top

Notre-Dame Cathedral

The Great Organ At Notre Dame De Paris

There were doubtlessly organs at Notre-Dame Paris from the time it was built in the 12th century, but Léonin, organ composer, founder of the Ecole Notre-Dame and optimus organista, then Pérotin the Great(1160-1220), most probably only played on small instruments in the choir. Still, a “great organ” was definitely built at Notre-Dame in the 13th century. Over the centuries, the great organ was expanded before taking on its current proportions in the 18th century. The great organ survived the tumultuous revolution, most likely thanks to the patriotic music played on it, including compositions by the organist Balbastre. In 1868, after organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll’s work, it became a full symphonic organ with 86 stops on 5 keyboards and a pedalboard.

The Church
St. Louis island was established under Louis XIII and opened in 1623. In 1642 Louis XIV built a larger church dedicated to St. Louis. Closed during the Revolution but re-opened in 1817.

The Organ
In 1983, the City of Paris decided to build a new organ that will allow French and internationally renown organists to play and record Baroque works in Paris. This new instrument would contribute to the revival of organ teaching in France and its influence throughout the world because this church has excellent acoustics and is perfectly adapted to Baroque North-German music. The organ was built by Aubertin and inaugurated on June 22, 2005.


Built on the place of a former chapel (VIth century),this beautiful church dates back to the end of the 11th century. The clocktower dates to 1412. Its present appearance in flamboyant Gothic style dates back to the 15th-17th centuries. The first large organ was built by Claude Ferrand (1748), using pipes from the former organ, probably of Valéran de Héman (1610). In 1889, the organ was transformed into a symphonic organ. In 1963, a reconstruction and reconception of the orginal French classical organ into a neo-classical German-French concept was carried out by Alfred Kern and in 2011 a new restoration was completed which took the organ back to its original concept.

Twenty-six stops date from before the revolution and twenty-two are new.  Of the reeds, the Cormorne ass well as the Trumpet of the positive and the Voix Humaine of the Récit date from the 17th century, but have been modified.

Between 1964 and 1982, an unknown organ builder replaced the Bombarde 16 of the great with the Musette 16 of the Récit, re-used as an eight foot. At the same time the Hautbois 4 was changed into eight foot at the same keyboard. In 1982, Daniel Kern made other changes, such as adding a Sifflet.

All these changes were considered in 2011, when the organ was revoiced by Quentin Blumenroeder  in  close cooperation with Jean-Marie Tricoteaux (reeds) and Dominique Thomas (other stops).  At this time the work of Alfred Kern was carefully acknowledged, and the restoration has been a great success.

Notre Dame d'Auteuil

The organ of Notre Dame d’Auteuil was built by Cavaillé-Coll in 1855 and restored by Beuchet-debierre in 1937.  It has 53 stops and 3 manuals.

Abbey Church of Saint-Ouen Organ, Rouen

The church contains a large four-manual pipe organ built in 1890 by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. This instrument is considered to be one of the most important organs in France, and is notable for its unusually powerful 32' Contre Bombarde. The organ stands unaltered and thus is one of the few of the master's works to speak with its original voice.

II. Grand-Orgue

Montre 16′

Bourdon 16′

Violon-basse 16′

Montre 8′

Diapason 8′

Bourdon 8′

Flûte harmonique 8′

Salicional 8′

Prestant 4′

Trompette en chamade 8′

Clairon en chamade 4′

I. Positif

Montre 8′

Bourdon 8′

Gambe 8′

Unda maris 8′

Dulciane 4′

Flûte douce 4′

Doublette 2′

Plein-Jeu V

Cor anglais 16′

Trompette 8′

Cromorne 8′

Clairon 4′

III. Récit
(expressif / enclosed)

Quintaton 16′

Corno dolce 16′

Diapason 8′

Cor de nuit 8′

Flûte traversière 8′

Viole de gambe 8′

Voix céleste 8′

Voix éolienne 8′

Flûte octaviante 4′

Viole d’amour 4′

Quinte 2 2/3′

Octavin 2′

Carillon I-III

Cornet (c1) V

Tuba Magna 16′

Trompette harmonique 8′

Clarinette 8′

Basson-Hautbois 8′

Voix humaine 8′

Clairon harmonique 4′


 IV. Bombarde

 Grosse Flûte 8′

 Flûte 4′

 Doublette 2′

 Fourniture V

 Cornet 16′ (c1) V

 Bombarde 16′

 Contre-Basson 16′

 Trompette 8′

 Clairon 4′


Soubasse 32′

Contre-basse 16′

Soubasse 16′

Basse 8′

Violoncelle 8′

Bourdon 8′

Flûte 4′

Contre-bombarde 32′

Bombarde 16′

Basson 16′

Trompette 8′

Clairon 4′

Specification of the Cavaillé-Coll Grand Organ

at St. Ouen, Rouen

Royaumont Abbey, a former Cistercian abbey in the Île-de-France region

A large organ built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll for Mr. Marracci in Cologny, Switzerland is housed in the monks' refectory at Royaumont Abbey. François Lang purchased the organ in 1936 to inaugurate the first Music Season at Royaumont and V. Gonzalez installed it without its case following major changes in its operation, composition and tuning.

The magnificent instrument, which has landmark status, underwent a major restoration between 2002 and 2007 during which Laurent Plet worked on the mechanism and tuning and Yves Koenig created a case in the neogothic style.

The structure, facade pipes and case were re-installed in February and March 2006. A very beautiful neogothic case was built, with Alsatian oak woodwork arranged in the flats and towers to integrate the existing facade pipes.

The installation of the pipes and their tuning continued until April 2007. It took 17,000 hours of work to restore and reinstall the thousands of parts that make up the organ, including 2,573 pipes, of which 2,316 are original.

La Madeleine
This organ was built in 1845-1846 by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll and inaugurated by Louis-Nicolas Séjan and the organists of La Madeleine Fessy and Saint-Saëns. The buffet-style "Italian Renaissance" was designed by the architect Huvé. The instrument consisted of 48 stops over 4 keyboards and a pedal. Its free standing console was a novelty (for Cavaillé-Coll). The Voix Céleste was the first ever built worldwide.

During the past centuries, various modifications were realized, among which an electrification of the traction in 1971 and the addition of two chamades in 2002 (as already intended by Cavaillé-Coll in 1846). It has now 60 stops and still includes 95% of the original pipes of Cavaillé-Coll.

La Trinité
The Eglise de la Sainte Trinité was built in 1861 as part of the beautification and reorganization of Paris under Baron Haussmann.

The Cavaillé-Coll Organ was built between 1869 and 1871. In 1901 it was rebuilt by Merklin, and in 1962 again by the firm of Beauchet-Debierre.

Among the former organists of the church were Alexandre Guilmant (1871-1901), Olivier Messiaen (1931-1992), and Naji Hakim (1993-2008). Its current organist is Loïc Mallié.


The Grand Gallery Organ

In 1862, the current pipe organ, constructed by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, was added to the church of Saint-Sulpice. It is Cavaillé-Coll's magnum opus, featuring 101 speaking stops, and is perhaps the most impressive instrument of the romantic French symphonic-organ era.

Basilica of Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre

The grand pipe organ of the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre is unanimously considered to be one of the most remarkable in Paris, France and Europe. Built in 1898, it is the last great instrument built by the illustrious Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

It was originally commissioned by Baron Albert de l’Espée for his enormous château in Biarritz. He wanted the best available, regardless of expense. He sold the organ a few years later to Charles Mutin, Cavaillé’s successor. The Basilica acquired it in 1919.

The instrument has four keyboards, a pedalboard and 78 stops and retains its original mechanical key actions.

The imposing size, rare quality of manufacture and unique sound quality have been officially recognized by the French state, which classified it as a national monument in 1981.

The grand organ of the Sacré-Cœur has undergone several restorations. The most recent, begun in 1985, is unfortunately incomplete; only the most severely damaged pneumatic parts have been replaced, the others have rapidly deteriorated and are now unused due to wear and tear. The pipes are covered in a thick layer of dust that adversely impacts on pitch and timbre

Because of this the organ is in an advanced state of decay.

The instrument is played regularly, at the very least during the six weekly office, in a highly frequented building and world-renowned tourist site emblematic of Paris and France. It is the most widely-heard pipe organ in the world after that of Notre Dame.

The tenured organists can attest to the number of French and foreign visitors and organists who marvel at the design and sound quality of this instrument, which is an inestimable part of France’s cultural heritage.

The tenured organists are Claudine Barthel, Philippe Brandeis and Gabriel Marghieri.

Saint-Louis de Vincennes

The organ is new with 29 stops, with Tournemire’s 1932 keyboards from Sainte-Clotilde.

Instructors Instruments

The Organ Seminars




Return to Top

Yannick Merlin is co-titular organist at Notre-Dame-Des-Champs Church in Paris since October 2008. A qualified „Professeur agrégé de musique“, he holds the diplomas from the Faculties of musicology from Strasbourg and Paris/Sorbonne.

Concert artist (France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, England) and musicologist (articles published in the journals L’Orgue, L’Annuaire de Sélestat or La Flûte Harmonique) he has been Director of collections for Delatour France editions since 2005. He entered the C.N.R of Strasbourg in the organ class of Marc Schaefer and the organ improvisation class of Christophe Mantoux. In 2001, he obtained a gold organ medal from the C.N.R. of Strasbourg.

From 2001 to 2003, he studied in the performance class of the Conservatory of Paris-C.N.R (Marie-Louise Langlais) Other great artists with whom Merlin has studied are Louis Thiry, Jean Boyer, and Marie-Claire Alain. He is also a prize winner of the international organ competitions of Lorraine, the city of Paris, and the Angers Organ competition.

Beatrice Piertot studied with Marie-Louise Langlais and is professor of organ and harpsichord at the Conservatory of Abbeville and co-titular organist at St. Lawrence Parish in Paris. She is married to Yannick Merlin and they have one daughter.

Return to Top

Benjamin Alard

The French harpsichordist and organist, Benjamin Alard, started the piano at age 7. He later studied organ and harspichord, respectively with Louis Thiry & François Ménissier, and Elisabeth Joyé, developping an interest in early music that led him to the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis for further studies with Jean-Claude Zehnder (organ) and Andrea Marcon (harpsichord). In 2004 he won the Bruges International Harpsichord Competition (where he garnered Ist prize and Audience award). He is also a laureate of "Déclic 2005/2006", a joint Radio-France, AFAA and Société Générale support & sponsoring programme for young artists.

A recitalist on both harpsichord and organ, Benjamin Alard has performed at prestigious early music festivals and venues: Nantes (Le Printemps des Arts & La Folle Journée), Saintes, Brussels ('Flagey' Hall), etc. He also collaborates with leading ensembles such as La Petite Bande (Drector Sigiswald Kuijken), Capriccio Stravagante (Director Skip Sempé), Venice Baroque Orchestra (Director Andrea Marcon).

In 2005, Benjamin Alard was appointed organist at the church of St-Louis-en-l'Île in Paris, where he plays on the new instrument by Aubertin.

Vincent Dubois

Having earned five 1st prize at the Conservatoire de Paris (organ unanimously in the class of Olivier Latry , Dubois went on to perform in prestigious places around the world. He was also the guest at many international festivals such as Vancouver , Stuttgart , Montreal , Chartres , Cambridge , Lisbon , Ottawa , Dresden , Merseburg , Roskilde , , the King's College in Cambridge , Notre-Dame de Paris, and the the Bartók Hall in Budapest .

In 2001 he was appointed the titular Cavaillé Coll of the  great organ of Soissons Cathedral in 2001-2014.

Holder of the certificate of fitness director of regional influence in conservatories , Vincent Dubois was appointed director of regional influence in Reims Conservatory in 2008 and in late 2011 he was appointed director of the Conservatory and Higher Academy of Music of Strasbourg .

Since September 2014, Vincent Dubois is an artist-in-residence at the University of Michigan.

On 18 January 2016, following a competition, he was named co-organist of the great organ of Notre Dame de Paris alongside Philippe Lefebvre and Olivier Latry .

François Espinasse

He is the Assistant Organist at the Église Saint-Séverin in Paris and also teaches at the Conservatoire National de Lyon and is on the National Committee for the Preservation of Historic Monuments (organ department). Recently he was appointed Assistant Organist of the chapel at the palace of Versailles.


Organist, Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre, Paris.


Studied with Henri Carol, René Saorgin, Marie-Claire Alain, Michel Chapuis, Loïc Mallié. After studying at the Conservatoires of Nice and Rueil-Malmaison, he received the Premiers Prix (first prizes) for organ, analysis, and harmony from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris, and the Premier Prix for improvisation from the equivalent institution in Lyon.

He also won the International Grand Prizes of Bordeaux (F) and Saint Albans (GB) for organ interpretation, of Chartres (F) for improvisation, and of Finhaut (CH) for composition.

He obtained the Certificate of Aptitude in Teaching for organ, and currently teaches analyses and improvisation at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Lyon, after having taught-among other places-at the Conservatoire NationNational al Supérieur de Paris.

Gabriel Marghieri has given concerts, conferences and master classes throughout Europe, in Russia, Canada and Japan, recording for radio and television stations.

His discography comprises works by Henri Carol (Solstice), Franz Liszt (Harmonia Mundi-Radio France), as well as  recordings of compositions of his own (Par-dessus l'abîme, oratorio, Gallo...) and improvisations (Amis de l'orgue de Saint-Bonaventure de Lyon).

He has been a member of many national and international judging panels.

Having held posts at, among others, Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis-du-Marais in Paris, he competed for and was appointed incumbent organist  of the Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre in Paris, Saint-Bonaventure Sanctuary and Saint-Jean Cathedral in Lyon.

Composer of works for organ, piano, choir and different instrumental ensembles (Sept Croquis alpestres for organ, Editions Rubin, Par-dessus l'abîme, oratorio, Mainte nuit sans repos...), he also writes pieces of a liturgical and pedagogical nature (Arbres for piano, Editions Billaudot...)

Elsewhere, he is invited to many international organ festivals such as: Bonn, Chartres, Roquevaire, Toulouse-les-Orgues, Rome, Musique en Côte Basque, Monaco, Stuttgart, Helsinki, Chicago, Dijon, Aosta, Oslo, London, Einburgh, Brucknerfest in Linz, Orgelherbst in Munich, Los Angeles, North Africa...

Frédéric Blanc takes part in and presents radio broadcasts, conferences and master classes on the subject of French Music or improvisation throughout Europe and the United States, his talent as an improvisor being widely recognised. Some of his recitals have been broadcast by American, French and German radio stations (Bayerische Rundfunk). Frédéric Blanc was also a member of the Commission des orgues for the City of Paris and the Ministry of Culture's Commission of non-listed organs.

In his recordings (released by Motette, EMI, Aeolus, Baroque Notes) we see his affinity with the school of French organ music and his discs devoted entirely to improvisation have all met with international critical acclaim.

He is also author of a study devoted to André Fleury (L'Orgue – cahiers et mémoires), a work dedicated to the memories and writings of Maurice Duruflé (Ed. Séguier, Paris) and numerous transcriptions of Pierre Cochereau's improvisations (Ed. Butz).

Between 1987 and 1995 he was assistant organist at the Basilica of St. Sernin in Toulouse. Since 1999 Frédéric Blanc has been the Organiste Titulaire of the large Cavaillé-Coll organ in the church of Notre-Dame d'Auteuil in Paris : one of the most beautiful symphonic organs in the capital. He is also musical director of the Association of Maurice and Marie-Madeleine Duruflé.

Frédéric Blanc

As a youngster in the South-West of France, Frédéric Blanc was already improvising on the piano and the organ, discovering music all by himself. Following his studies at the Conservatoires of Toulouse and Bordeaux he became a pupil of André Fleury in Paris and Marie-Madeleine Duruflé, of whom he became a faithful disciple. These two masters of the organ inducted him in the great tradition of French organ music.

As a prizewinner of important international competitions (Grand Prix de Chartres 2nd prize in 1996 and the Grand Prix in the International Competition of the City of Paris in 1997), he began his career as an international recitalist, improviser and teacher which took him all over Europe and to the U.S.A. where he lectures at the most prestigious universities. He has formed a renowned duo with the harpist Marie-Pierre Cochereau and also regularly appears with Stéphane Vaillant, solo trumpeter of the orchestra of the Garde Républicaine (the French Mounted Police).

For many years he has lectured in numerous major American universities : Valparaiso (Indiana), Stanford (California), Holland (Michigan) and Evanston (Chicago), SMU (Dallas), the Curtis Institute (Philadelphia), Arizona State University (Phoenix), the Royal Academy of Music (London), the Franz Liszt Academy (Budapest) for master classes in French music and improvisation, in the art of which he is one of the most respected ambassadors.

Thomas Ospital - Organist

Born in 1990 in the Basque Country (France), Thomas Ospital began his musical studies at the Conservatoire de Bayonne and obtained, in 2008, a First Prize of organ in the class of Esteban Landart.  He continued his studies at the National Conservatory of Music and Dance in Paris where he worked with musical personalities such as Olivier Latry, Michel Bouvard, Thierry Escaich, Philippe Lefebvre, Laszlo Fassang, Isabelle Duha, Pierre Pincemaille and Jean-François Zygel.  He obtained five first prizes in organ, improvisation, harmony, counterpoint and fugue.

He won numerous prizes in various international competitions such as that of Zaragoza (First Prize) in 2009, Chartres (Duruflé Prize and Audience Prize) in 2012, Toulouse (Second Prize) in 2013. In May 2014, -Louis Florentz and the public prize at the Concours d'Angers under the aegis of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.  In November of the same year, he was awarded the Second Prize, the Audience Prize and the Jean-Louis Florentz Prize at the Chartres International Competition.

In 2012, he is a six-month "young artist in residence" at the Saint Louis King of France Cathedral in New Orleans, USA.  In 2015, he was artist in residence at the sacred music festival of Rocamadour.

In 2015, the church St Eustache - located in the center of Paris and home to France's largest pipe organ - appointed him one of its two organists. In 2016, La Maison de la Radio in Paris invited him to become the first organist in residence of the new instrument built by Grenzing.

Improvisation holds an important place in his musical practice;  Anxious to make this art continue in all its forms, it notably practices the accompaniment of silent films.  His work as a concertist led him to perform both in France and abroad, as a soloist, chamber music or symphony orchestra.