Jeanne Marie-Madeleine Demessieux (13 February 1921–11 November 1968), was a French organist, pianist, composer, and pedagogue.
Born in Montpellier, in southern France, she entered the Montpellier Conservatoire in 1928. Four years later, she obtained first prizes in solfège and piano. In 1933, she began her studies at the Paris Conservatoire, and was appointed titular organist at Saint-Esprit, a post she held for 29 years.
Between 1936 and 1939, she studied organ privately with Marcel Dupré, whose organ class at the Conservatoire she joined in 1939. After receiving a first prize in organ performance and improvisation in 1941, Demessieux studied five more years privately with Dupré.
Altogether she gave more than 700 concerts throughout the world, and like Dupré, had a prodigious memory, and knew more than 2,500 works by heart, including the complete organ works of Bach, Franck, Liszt, and Mendelssohn, as well as most of Dupré's compositions for the instrument. A prolific recording artist, she received in 1960 France's Grand Prix du Disque Award for her Franck intégrale, committed to disc two years before.
In 1962, Demessieux was appointed titular organist at La Madeleine in Paris. She combined this with demanding academic duties (not solely in her homeland), serving as professor of organ both at the Nancy Conservatoire (1950–52) and later at the Conservatoire Royal in Liège (1952–68). Increasingly poor health obliged her to limit her performance activities after 1965.
She left behind more than 30 compositions, most were written for the organ, and extremely demanding technically.
Rorate Caeli (Choral orné) comes from "Twelve Choral Preludes on Gregorian Chant Themes," (published in 1950) and is based upon the well-known melody for "Drop down ye heavens from above," and is given an expressive treatment, using a solo Cornet with a rhapsodic melody.
Two photos of Jeanne Demessieux are attached below.