Paul Jacobs made musical history at the age of twenty-three when he played Bach's complete organ works in an eighteen-hour marathon on the 250th anniversary of the composer's death. He has also performed the complete organ works of Messiaen in marathon performances throughout North American and reached the milestone of having performed in each of the fifty United States.
At age fifteen, Mr. Jacobs was appointed head organist of a parish in his hometown, Washington, PA. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and at Yale University. Mr. Jacobs joined the faculty of the Juilliard School in 2003 and was named Chairman of the Organ Department in 2004; he held Juilliard's William Schuman Scholar's Chair in 2007. Recipient of an honorary Doctor of Music from Washington and Jefferson College in 2017, he also serves as Director of the Organ Institute at the Oregon Bach Festival.
Mr. Jacobs began his 2017-18 season with a concert at the Toledo Museum of Art performing Lou Harrison's Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra with Third Coast Percussion in a centennial celebration of Lou Harrison. He then traveled to Shanghai, where he is president of the jury of the first Shanghai International Organ Competition, and performed in recital at the Oriental Arts Center. He appears twice with the Cleveland Orchestra and is organ soloist in Saint-Saëns's Symphony No. 3 with the Chicago Symphony and the Utah Symphony. He presents solo recitals in Sacramento, Tampa, Houston, Baylor University, and Pittsburgh among others.
Mr. Jacobs’s recording of Messiaen’s Livre du Saint Sacrement on the Naxos label was awarded a Grammy in the Best Solo Instrumental category, the first time a disc of solo organ music has received this honor. His other recordings include Divine Redeemer with soprano Christine Brewer and Michael Daugherty’s Once Upon a Castle (part of a Grammy award-winning disc of Daugherty’s works) with the Nashville Symphony, both on the Naxos label. An advocate of new music, Mr. Jacobs has premiered works by Christopher Rouse, Samuel Adler, Mason Bates, Michael Daugherty, Wayne Oquin, Stephen Paulus, and Christopher Theofanidis, among others.
Mr. Jacobs made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2009. He can be heard on the Symphony’s recordings of Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra (recorded in 2012 as part of the American Mavericks Festival) and Copland’s Organ Symphony for SFS Media.