The discussion about modernistic organ improvisation as an element in catholic liturgy raises questions on the different roles the organist has to combine in the meeting between organ improvisation’s aesthetic tradition, theological legislation, and the congregation’s understanding of music and liturgy. All of this lies on the organist’s shoulders, feeling responsible for the artistic, theological and communicative aspects of organ improvisation in daily practice. The main research question to be addressed in my interview with the influential and acclaimed French organist and improviser Olivier Latry at Notre-Dame in Paris was: How can an improvisation with modernistic musical features both relate to its aesthetic tradition and to the catholic liturgical thinking, and how can an organist combine the roles as artist, theologian and communicator?

Keywords: Organ improvisation, modernism and church music, French tradition of organ improvisation, Catholic liturgy and aesthetic discourse