French pianist and composer Jacques Loussier was born in Angers on 26 October 1934 and began to learn the piano when he was ten. The following year he fell in love with a piece from J S Bach's Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, and discovered that he loved adding his own notes to the music, expanding the harmonies and playing around with the music.
He began composing while studying at the Conservatoire National Musique in Paris. When his memory failed whilst playing a Bach prelude during a competition, he began to improvise. To finance his studies he played jazz in Paris bars, and afterwards travelled in the Middle East and Latin America.
His career began as an accompanist, then he formed the Jacques Loussier Trio in 1959 with Pierre Michelot and Christian Garros, and used compositions by J S Bach as the basis for jazz improvisations, which at that time was unique. Loussier's style was described as 'third stream', synthesising jazz and classical music, and emphasising improvisation. The result became very popular, and their recordings sold more than six million albums over a fifteen year period. The best-known recording is Air on the G String.
Jacques Loussier had a stroke during a performance at Klavier-Festival Ruhr on 14 July 2011, after which he retired. He died on 5 March 2019, aged eighty-four.