Paul Jordan

New Haven Independent: March 6, 2015

Paul Jordan, a prominent musician and professor from New Haven, passed away on Sunday, March 1, at the age of 75, after a lengthy struggle with illness.

Jordan was born in New York to Dr. Henry P. Jordan, a German diplomat who took refuge in the U.S. to avoid serving the NAZI regime, and Irene Brandt Jordan, linguist and physical educator. The family lived in Germany from 1952-1955 upon Jordan's father's reinstatement in the German diplomatic service.

After graduating from high school in Cuba, where his father served as German ambassador from 1955 - 1959, Jordan attended Harvard University, and Columbia University, and received graduate degrees from the Staatliche Hochschuler Musik in Frankfurt am Main (where he studied under the famous blind organist Helmut Walcha), the Yale School of Music, and the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. Jordan was the organist and music director at the United Church on the Green in New Haven, and then a professor of music at Binghamton University, (SUNY) New York for 20 years, where he taught organ, harpsichord, recorder, directed the Collegium Musicum, conducted the University Orchestra, and coached singers on German pronunciation. He also designed the organs in the United Church on the Green (New Haven) and Binghamton University, Anderson Center.

In his early career, among the first generation of musicians in America involved in the revival of Early Music, Jordan played recorder in Bach's 4th Brandenburg Concerto with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. He also performed extensively on recorder with New York Trio da Camera (Grace Feldman, viola da gamba, Edward Brewer, harpsichord) and sang under Noah Greenberg.

As a distinguished organist, he toured the world, performing at churches, cathedrals and such concert halls as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. Known as a Bach specialist, Jordan also studied the works of Dieterich Buxtehude, a lesser-known Baroque composer whose works would influence J.S. Bach himself. Mr. Jordan’s interest in Buxtehude culminated in a series of concerts he conducted in 2007 (the 300th anniversary of Buxtehude’s death) called “The Buxtehude Project.”

As a composer and arranger, Jordan wrote many endings to J.S. Bach's unfinished masterpiece, The Art of the Fugue. He was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, to commit the work to memory (a feat almost unparalleled), and recorded the piece with his own ending ( As a writer, he published various articles in magazines such as The American Recorder, as well as a three-part article on Helmut Walcha in celebration of Walcha’s 100th birthday, published in The Diapason. Beyond the realm of classical music, Paul Jordan was also passionate about more modern artists and works. He often played and promoted the music of Moondog, a renowned blind street musician and recording artist.

In addition to his position at the United Church on the Green in New Haven, Jordan held the position of organist and music director in several churches in Connecticut, including the First Congregational Church of Guilford and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Madison, and most recently, the First Church of Christ Scientist, Westport.

Mr. Jordan was an outstanding musician with vast knowledge beyond music, including subjects such as philosophy, history, literature, and politics. He is survived by his wife, Xilin Jordan, son, Libai, and brother, Don F. Jordan. Paul Jordan will be laid to rest in the family grave in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.