Meet the French-Lebanese Dubbed "One of the Greatest Organists of Our Time" - The961

Meet the French-Lebanese Dubbed "One of the Greatest Organists of Our Time"

A multi-awarded organist, composer, and improviser, born and raised in Beirut.

The Église de la Sainte-Trinité is a Roman Catholic church located in the ninth arrondissement of Paris, France. The church is a construction of the Second Empire era, built between 1861 and 1867 and cost almost 5 million Francs at the time.

La Trinité, as it is known, was designed by Théodore Ballu as part of the beautification and reorganization of Paris under Baron Haussmann. Exterior figures of Faith, Hope, and Charity on the church were sculpted by Eugène-Louis Lequesne. Also named after it: the Rue de La Trinité and the Square de La Trinité.

The church's facade served as the inspiration for the design of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Quebec City and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento, California.

Via Keewego Paris

The church is known internationally for its former organist, the French composer Olivier Messiaen. Incredibly, this world-renown organist was replaced by the talented Naji Hakim, a French-Lebanese organist, composer, and improviser.

Born in Beirut in 1955, Hakim was introduced to the organ during his elementary school studies at the Collège du Sacré-Cœur in Beirut. He began with private piano lessons but, when he was nine or ten years old, he began work on his own at the organ, using various methods such as Marcel Dupré and Gleason.

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In 1975, the Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieurs de Beirut, where Hakim was studying in Lebanon, closed down because of the Lebanese Civil War. So, he moved to Paris to finish his engineering studies at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications.

Hakim continued his organ studies in performance and improvisation with the famous French organist-improviser-composer Jean Langlais (1907–1991) with whom he worked for about ten years.

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It was upon Langlais' encouragement that Hakim entered the Conservatoire de Paris where he obtained seven first prizes in organ performance, organ improvisation, harmony, counterpoint, fugue, analysis, and orchestration.

Hakim was the organist of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Paris, from 1985 until 1993, and went on to succeed Olivier Messiaen at the Église de la Sainte-Trinité, Paris, from 1993 until 2008.

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To date, he has composed works for organ, two organs, organ duo, and organ with other instruments, as well as orchestral and concerto works, solo instrumental and chamber works, and vocal works. He has won several awards for performance, improvisation, and composition.

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His Symphonie en Trois Mouvements won the composition prize of the “Amis de l'Orgue” in 1984. He went on winning the first price of The Embrace of Fire in 1986 in the International Organ Competition in memory of Anton Heiller, at Southern Missionary College in Collegedale, Tennessee.

In addition to that, he was awarded the Prix de Composition Musicale André Caplet from the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1991.

Hakim has also been the recipient of first prizes at the International Organ Competitions held in Haarlem, Beauvais, Lyon, Nuremberg, St. Albans, Strasbourg, and Rennes.

Via Beatrice Tomasetti (DR)

Most recently, Hakim performed at St. Michael's Church in Ireland as part of the distinguished Pipeline Festival 2019, where he was introduced as "one of the greatest organists of our time."

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