News Archive

Dame Gillian Weir - a look back at a unique career

Ann Elise Smoot has written an insightful article from her interview with Gillian Weir back in 2012. Originally appearing in the June 2012 issue of Organists' Review, the article is available here for your reading pleasure!

ION Music Festival 2020

Dame Gillian Weir was to have been among the jurists for the Organ Interpretation Competition scheduled to be held in Nuremberg in June/July. Because of the virus epidemic it was postponed until a later date, but alas had to be held on a smaller scale without those jurors or performers needing to travel from abroad. We'll look to the future for another opportunity to join in this distinguished and long-established Competition!

Dupré re-issue

In 2019 Gillian's previous vinyl recording from the Royal Northern College was issued as a CD on the Decca Eloquence label. It includes the spectacular 2nd symphony of Dupré and other stunning French showpieces, played on the College's Hradetzky organ shortly after its installation. The recording is hailed by MusicWeb: "Gillian Weir presents a master-class in French organ music performance on this CD. […] It is great to have this exciting, technically demanding and imaginative recording in my library once again."

Click here for details!


In June 2018 Pembroke College, Cambridge University, presented its first 24-hour Bachathon. All Bach’s organ works were played in Pembroke, starting at noon on June 18th and continuing till noon on the 19th. Anna Lapwood, Pembroke’s Director of Music, was the first player and a succession of gifted women organists followed.

Gillian Weir is Patron of the project, and gave a master-class before the Bachathon began in which three Cambridge organ scholars played works of Bach, being present for 18 of the 24 hours, to cheer the organists on. The Bachathon has continued each year with growing success, going online in 2020.

Do come and cheer the organists on, and be present to hear everything the greatest master composer wrote for the organ!

Association of Assistant Cathedral Organists (ACO) Patron

Gillian Weir was delighted to have become the Patron of the Association of Assistant Cathedral Organists (ACO), assuming the role during their March 2018 Conference. This was held in Exeter and Buckfast Abbey, where she also gave a master-class on the Abbey’s new Ruffatti organ. The pandemic has meant the cancellation of the 2020 Conference, as of so much else, but hopes are high for next year.

Honorary Fellowship

On November 7th St Chad's College, Durham University, honoured Gillian by awarding her an Honorary Fellowship. At a Dinner in the College Dr William Apedaile, President of the Senior Common Room, gave the citation, and the College Principal, Dr Margaret Masson, presented GIllian with the College Hood.

Bloomsbury Organ Day 2017

This excerpt from the February 2017 The Organ highlights Dame Gillian's masterclass.

Dame Gillian Weir’s masterclass can only be described as the masterclass of masterclasses! Insightful, probing, witty, challenging, Dame Gillian certainly cast a spell over the large audience (several hundred throughout the afternoon) and the allotted hour seemed wholly inadequate to survey the chosen works in detail; but nothing was lost as the opening sections of the chosen works were subjected to the most intense scrutiny.

The three students who submitted themselves to the challenge together with their choice of repertoire were Konstantin Gensitskiy - (Bach Trio Sonata 1 - 1st and 2nd movements); Hannah Gibson (Franck - 2nd Chorale) and Ashley Wagner (Mendelssohn - Sonata 1 - Adagio and Allegro Assai).

Although Dame Gillian may have retired from centre-stage performing, the sheer energy, stamina and bravura were as gripping as ever. At every opportunity Dame Gillian could be seen adding and subtracting stops, refining registration, demonstrating alternative fingering patterns, and it would be impossible to summarize the wealth of experience and erudition of this ‘hands on’ approach here. Questions which frequently vex organists such as the pros and cons of 8’ or 16’ pedal registration in the trio sonatas, choice of mutation stops and understanding the important concepts of rhythm and meter were all addressed. The Mendelssohn proved to be an ideal choice for defining accent and articulation in the opening bars of the last movement with the overlapping arpeggios- no hint of blurring tolerated here!

Organ Days 2018, ’19 and ’20 aroused equal enthusiasm; alas, the 2021 Organ Day could not take place, but hopes are high for January 2022. Watch this space!

Honour for Gillian Weir

Gillian Weir was made an Honorary Fellow of Grey College, Durham University. (2016)

Honour for Gillian Weir

Gillian Weir has been given the signal honour of being made an Honorary Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. This venerable and distinguished Society, one of the Livery Companies of the City of London, dates back to at least 1360. Founded as a specialist guild for musicians, the modern Company promotes all aspects of the art and science of music. It supports musicians and musical education, awarding prizes, scholarships and medals.

The Honorary Freeman is the Company's highest Award. Other current Freemen are Dame Janet Baker, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, HRH the Prince of Wales, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Sir Harrison Birtwistle and HRH Duchess of Kent. Past Honorary Freemen have included Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Hubert Parry, Ralph Vaughan Williams O.M., Lord (Benjamin) Britten, and Sir Yehudi Menuhin.

The Award was conferred on Gillian Weir by the Master, Andrew Morris, in a ceremony held at the ancient and beautiful Merchant Taylors' Hall, in the City of London. A Dinner for some two hundred members and guests followed, at which Gillian was the speaker.

CD release!

LYRITA have issued a CD containing the world première of Peter Racine Fricker's Symphony No. 5 for organ and orchestra (in effect an organ concerto). The concert was broadcast live and Lyrita have been able to acquire the BBC's recording.

The work was commissioned by the BBC for the 25th Jubilee anniversary of the Royal Festival Hall, and the concert took place on May 5th 1976. Gillian Weir was soloist (as she was in his later Organ Concerto and other Fricker works), and Sir Colin Davis conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The CD, which also contains his oratorio The Vision of Judgement, is available now, on Lyrita REAM1124.

On the Cover...
From the November 1966 Diapason, a description announcing Gillian Weir's first extensive North America concert tours.

Click on the image itself to see an enlarged version.


Special Interview & Panel Discsussion
August 2014

Saturday, August 2nd 2014, at the Royal Festival Hall, London: The Southbank Centre Organ Symposium on the Royal Festival Hall Organ, in collaboration with the British Institute of Organ Studies and the Royal College of Music. This was part of the Royal Festival Hall's Festival to celebrate the restoration of the Hall's organ after nearly a decade's absence.

Gillian Weir, who has performed at the Southbank Centre over fifty times, was interviewed by William McVicker, the Southbank Centre's Organ Curator, on her long association with the Royal Festival Hall organ. Gillian Weir, Lionel Rogg and others took part in a panel discussion on historical and contemporary performance practice.

Messiaen: Organ Works

An undiscovered treasure! Recorded in 1966 but never released are nearly 100 minutes of Messiaen recorded by Gillian Weir shortly after she won the St. Alban's Competition. At the centrepiece of this recital is Les Corps Glorieux and the other pieces display Dame Gillian's immense command over and total empathy with this music. The 7000+-word notes include an introduction to the recording; detailed notes on the works; and a fascinating article on her association and work with Olivier Messiaen - all by Dame Gillian. Also included is a technical note on the history of the recording (made in the early hours of the morning on 10 and 11 October 1966, to ensure that any sound of trains was minimised!) and its remastering, by Campbell Hughes, engineer for the original project and remastering engineer for this issue.

Click here to order.

Scherzo Available!

Scherzo is a delightful disc with a collection of fun music for the organ, showing its lighter and playful side. Performed with Gillian Weir's customary wit and virtuosity, it was recorded on the Aeolian-Skinner Organ of Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is currently available from retailers such as amazon. Click here for track listings.

Final Year of Public Recitals
January 2012
The final public recital will be held on December 5th at Westminster Cathedral in London. This recital will mark the climax of Gillian Weir's final year of public performances. During 2012 she will play in many of her favourite and prestigious venues in Europe and Great Britain, culminating in this performance in the great cathedral where in November 1964 she gave one of the first of her nearly 2000 concerts given around the world during her celebrated career. After 2012 she will continue with master-classes, adjudicating and some recording.

King of Instruments DVD Now Available!

The legendary six-part television programme The King of Instruments is available on DVD! Gillian Weir takes you on a tour across Europe featuring six different organs, providing engaging dialogue about the history of the times, music and instruments. See and hear over 20 works by a wide range of composers performed on these beautiful instruments, as filmed and recorded by the BBC team in the late 1980s. Order your own copy and experience why the BBC said “it performed remarkably well, achieving a 2 million audience and a very high audience appreciation index (AI) “second only to the wedding of Charles and Diana”.

Click here for notes, track listings, and ordering information.

John Amis: A Personal Appreciation
July 2010
The May-July 2010 issue of The Organ magazine features an article Dame Gillian Weir: A personal appreciation by John Amis. The article retraces Gillian Weir's career over the years and notes her extraordinary impact on the world of the organ. Click here to go to the article.

Apple's iTunes store now carries a wider variety of Gillian Weir's recordings. The where to buy page has the details and links.

Honorary Doctorate Received
September 2009
The University of London conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music on Gillian Weir for her contribution to music, at a special ceremony that was held at the Senate House in September of 2009. The degree of Hon D Mus is awarded only rarely by London University and is thus of special distinction. For previous honours awarded to Gillian Weir please see the biography page.
Online Music Winner!
April 2007

The winner of the contest regarding the work Six variationen über una tema di Vincent Youmans on the new Birmingham Symphony Hall CD is Mr. David Young of Frisco, Texas. Mr. Young, shown here with Gillian Weir having his celebratory tea, is himself a former organist, an avid organ music enthusiast and has been a fan of Gillian Weir for over 35 years. You can still try to figure out the variations on the contest web page; it will tell you when you are correct.

On Stage! Again!
October 2006

Gillian Weir On Stage at Symphony Hall, Birmingham A new double-CD recording has now been released by Priory Records, featuring Gillian Weir performing on the Klais Organ at the magnificent Symphony Hall in Birmingham. It features 11 toccatas, all spectacular in various ways, from the amazing Toccata Settima by Michelangelo Rossi, which piles chromatic harmonies on top of one another till the whole building is ringing with them, to the stunningly virtuosic Toccata for the Libération by the Comte de Saint-Martin. The Slonimsky Toccata in particular has been setting audiences ablaze in recent recital performances- it's a wild piece with exciting rhythms suggestive of a horde of Cossacks in a savage dance. Then there's one more work: the Six Variationen über una tema di Vincent Youman by William McVicker - which theme will be very familiar when heard... and which has a fun mystery element. The work was commissioned by six organists a little while ago, and McVicker has written the six variations with each of the organists in mind - but will not give up the secret of which is which. Can you guess!? We've created an online page where you can submit your guess!

Go to track listings

iTunes Cover Art
October 2006

We've added a iTunes cover art page which has images of all the CDs which are suitable for use with new iTunes verison 7.

Royal Albert Hall CD Reviewed
June 2006 From the July 2006 issue of American Organist: “The fabled Royal Albert Hall organ, the largest in the British Isles, has happily undergone a very successful restoration... And who better to perform the first recording on the restored giant than the Grande Dame of organists - Gillian Weir? Weir combines breathless virtuosity with exquisite poetry in her inimitable way. It is difficult to imagine a more perfect marriage of player, repertoire, and instrument. This is a superlative musical experience of heroic proportions.”

Go to more interview, reviews, and track listings...

On Stage! Gillian Weir at the Royal Festival Hall, London
June 2006

Update! July 2006 Gramophone Editor's Choice: “One of the greatest stars of London's music scene is showcased in a fabulous disc... a classic recording - a truly great CD! Gillian Weir's performances of Ives's witty variations, Grison's dazzling Toccata and Dupré's sparkling Noël Variations are characterized by imaginative colouring, wit and breathtaking virtuosity”

Go to more interview, reviews, and track listings...

Innovative Mozart Celebration
January 2006

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27th, 1756, so this year will be full with many events celebrating the composer's 250th anniversary. On Sunday, January 29th, an innovative programme was held at the Tonbridge School in Kent with Dame Gillian Weir performing organ and keyboard works by Mozart on the organ, interleaved with readings of letters written by Mozart, read by film star Robert Powell.

Royal Albert Hall Solo Organ Recital
November 2005

Dame Gillian Weir performed a solo organ recital on the newly restored organ at the Royal Albert Hall on 26 October before an audience of over 2000 people. The first solo organ recital to be performed at the hall in a very long time, it included a number of works heard on her sensational new CD from the hall which was released earlier this year. Already hailed as “A landmark recording with Weir and instrument a perfect partnership” (July 2005 Gramophone Editor's Choice), the new Royal Albert Hall recording has proven to be a popular seller.

Go to story about CD...

Summer Concerts Prove Popular
August 2005

A busy concert schedule has had Gillian traveling to many places. She recently performed at the AGO regional convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan: “Some 600 people filled Mayflower Congregational Church to standing-room-only to hear Weir... by the end of the program, all were standing. In a 75-minute program, Weir played a series of virtuoso works by Max Reger, Marcel Dupre and less familiar composers that would, in most other situations, leave another player gasping for breath as if he had just run on a marathon. After polishing off Marcel Lanquetuit's Toccata in D major, a showpiece for hands that was majestic for all its activity, Weir still appeared as relaxed as if she had just finished an evening stroll. Weir played with all the vigor and virtuosity of a Franz Liszt” (from The Grand Rapids Press).

Back by Popular Demand: King of Instruments Series!
May 2005

This set of historic organ performances recorded between 1974 and 1980 is now available as part of the Eloquence series of the Decca label; the discs are now sold as individual CDs. With “authority and stylish aplomb,” Gillian Weir performs a wide variety of music on instruments new and old.

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Ulster Hall CD Released
March 2005

Like finding a pristine photograph of a treasured great-great-grandparent, the Mulholland Grand Organ in the Ulster Hall in Belfast provides an exceptionally clear and intact view of the Victorian Town Hall Organ. On one of the best-preserved organs of that era, Gillian Weir performs music from a wide variety of composers and time periods, showing the remarkable flexibility of this instrument.

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Distinguished Visiting Artist
March 2005

Gillian Weir has accepted the appointment of Distinguished Visiting Artist at the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University for the 2005-2006 Academic Year. She will give classes to the Organ Department which is led by the internationally known organist and teacher Donald Sutherland.

Messiaen Cycle Reviews
March 2005

The fifth and final volume of Messiaen's organ works are now complete, which includes Livre du Sacrement, and three new additional works published after Messiaen's death: Prélude, Monodie, and Offrande au Saint Sacrement, which now makes this series of recordings fully complete.

From the February 2005 issue of The Organ: “No matter how many organ recordings I listen to, those of Gillian Weir simply mesmerise me, no less so than in her reissued series of recordings of Messiaen. It is though she is in contant communication with that extraordinary composer.”

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Organ Master Series Volume 4 Reviews
May 2005

The June 2005 issue of Gramophone remarks that “mention should also be made of Weir's excellent insert-notes where scholarship and the communicative skills of a great musician are together in perfect harmony,” and from the April 2005 BBC Music Magazine, commenting on one of that issues choice CDs: “Gillian Weir's Bach series, consummation of a world-class musician's recorded legacy, continues with this release recorded in Leipzig, where her characteristic clarity, wit and elegance are partnered by the excellent and much-heralded ‘Bach’ organ at St Thomas's.”

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Organ Master Series Volume 3 Reviews
October 2004

From the October 2004 The American Organist: “There is only one Dame Gillian Weir. She is without peer in her ability to do everything right...”, and from the June 2004 issue of Gramophone: “Her playing during these two and a half hours of organic bliss really is beyond all praise.”

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Honorary Doctor Degree Awarded
April 2004

Gillian Weir performed the opening recital on the new Aubertin organ in the King's College Chapel at Aberdeen University in Scotland. This organ by Aubertin of France was the first installation in the U.K. The University graciously bestowed an Honorary D.Mus at that time for her contributions in music.

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