The Kennedy Center

Jehan Titelouze


Jehan (or Jean) Titelouze was an organist and pioneer composer of organ music in France.  He was born in St. Omer c. 1562. Records of his early life are scarce so it is believed he received his schooling and musical training in St. Omer.  By 1585 he was a priest and substitute organist at the cathedral in St. Omer.  In 1585 he moved to Rouen to become the organist at St. Jean, then becoming organist at Rouen Cathedral in 1588 – serving until his death in 1633.  He was made canon by the cathedral chapter in 1610.  Titelouze is recognized for his improvisational skills as an organist.
As an expert in organs, Titelouze often gave advice on organ construction and restorations.  He collaborated with Crespin Carlier, a well known organ builder at the time, who improved the Rouen Cathedral organ for him in 1601.
Two of his major organ collections were Hymnes de l'Eglise pour toucher sur l'orgue (Paris, 1623) and Le Magnificat (Paris, 1626).  They contain versets based on plainsong to be played in alternation with the choir in a Roman Catholic service.
According to Grove Music Online, "… Titelouze's works can be said to project novelties that were to become important features of the later French Baroque organ school."
As a writer, his poetry received recognition from the Academie des Palinods in 1613 and 1630.  He was given the title of Prince des Palinods in 1630.
Jehan Titelouze