Bagpipe Society Logo
Promoting the Bagpipe Revival since 1986

The Bagpipe Society

Jean Cristoph Maillard Orbituary

Although I met Jean-Cristophe Maillard only five years ago at a folk music education symposium in Antwerpen, it feels like I have known him for much longer. We both grew up in the same town, Fontainebleau, and we went to the same high school, the Lycée Francois Premier, where his father used to teach music. About 30 years before me, Jean-Cristophe went to study music and musicology at the Sorbonne. His master’s dissertation was supervised by Pr. Edith Weber, who also happened to be my grandmother’s good friend from university. I am therefore one of the few lucky people to have a manuscript of his dissertation at home.

When I met Jean-Cristophe in 2010, I discovered not only a wonderful musician but also a warm and generous person who was always a smile away from laughing. He told me many anecdotes about his life as a student, including how it was impossible to skip university classes as he would get told off at home after Pr. Weber phoned his parents to tell them what he’d been up to.

Over the next five years, our paths crossed regularly at music and ethnomusicology events. Jean-Cristophe, as we all know, was one of the leading experts in the baroque musette. He played in many prominent ensembles and recorded a lot of repertoire. As well as a virtuoso piper, Jean Cristophe was also a scholar. He was awarded a PhD in music and musicology from the Sorbonne focusing on pastoral and popular French baroque repertoire for wind instruments. He was a lecturer at the University Jean Jaures in Toulouse and continued his research on baroque music and local regional music. Jean Cristophe was also instrumental in the organisation of the Journées de la Musette in Toulouse in January 2012 during which, in his words, “the pink city became for three days the capital of the musette” (

In 2014 I was very excited to hear him present at the second International Bagpipe Conference where he shared his enthusiasm about his research and talked about the ‘Sublimation and personification of the bagpipe in French baroque opera: aspects of the musette in the lyric repertoire between Lully and Rameau’. He was there with two of his long-term friends, Eric Montbel and Jean-Pierre Van Hees, who both collaborated with him extensively over the years.

Just over a year ago, Jean-Cristophe wrote to me to say that he had written a review about the conference in the French music journal Pastel, spreading the word about the International Bagpipe Conferences in France. I was very grateful to know that I had his full support in this international bagpipe venture. You can find his review (in French) here:

Jean-Cristophe Maillard was a wonderful man, a talented musician and a great expert. He died due to complications after surgery on the night of 12 July 2015. He will be sorely missed by the bagpipe community. Our thoughts go to his friends and family.