There were undoubtedly organs at Notre-Dame Paris from its construction in the 12Th century but Léonin , composer ofOrgana, founder of the Notre-Dame school and qualified asan organistaThen Perotin the great (1160-1220), probably knew only of the small instruments in the choir. As a great organ is probably built in Notre Dame in the the 13Th century. In 1330 the accounts of the Cathedral mention the payment of stamps to an organist. A few years later appears the name of Jean de Bruges, organist and perhaps also organ factor. The instrument is then suspended in "swallow's nest" under a high window of the nave : this is a still modest 6-foot organ with a single keyboard with 4-6 pipes per note. In 1401 one decides to construct a new organ on the stone grandstand above the large West Gate. Since that date, 50 organists have succeeded in the keyboards of the great organ suspended under the sunset rosette.
One of the first, in 1450, was the famous author of the true mystery of passion, Arnoul Gréban. From century to century, the great organ grows and is the subject of multiple restorations and reconstructions until, in the eighteenth century, to take the proportions that he still has now. At each time the organ of Notre-Dame is the subject of the most attentive care and is endowed with new games and technical improvements; However, the organ factors focus on retaining the best of the previous strata and that is why it still exist today some pipes of the medieval period.
The great organ escapes the turmoil of the revolution, thanks undoubtedly to the interpretation of patriotic music such as those composed in 1792 by the organist Balbastre, author of variations on the Marseillaise and the air will be fine. In 1868, after the work of the organ factor Aristide Cavaillé-Coll , initiated by the architect Viollet-le-Duc. , it finds its symphonic fullness with 86 games, on 5 keyboards and pedal.
Louis Vierne, organist from 1900 to 1937, modifies it twice and Pierre Cochereau, organist from 1955 to 1984, increases and modernizes from 1963 to 1975. Then in 1992, it is subject to a complete restoration which allows to restore the Symphonic sonorities of the organ of Cavaillé-Coll while preserving the previous strata (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) and associating the undeniable contributions of the contemporary world.
Authentic witness of several centuries of music and the Bill of French organs, the great organ of Notre-Dame de Paris is one of the few French instruments that allow to serve with sincerity and emotion of many repertoires and to arouse creation through musical composition and improvisation.
It can be heard during the Dominican offices under the fingers of one of the three titular organists (Vincent DUBOIS, Olivier LATRY, Philippe LEFEBVRE) and on Saturday evening at a Hearing given by invited organists from all over the world to play this prestigious instrument. These hearings have hosted thousands of Organists from all five continents. In addition, organ recitals are organized in the evening as part of the concert season of the sacred music Association in Notre-Dame de Paris.