The Belgian organist Bart Jacobs has been prominent among the organ players who have emerged from the Low Countries in the 21st century. He is notable for having explored the use of the organ as a continuo instrument.
Born in 1976, Jacobs studied organ, harpsichord, and continuo playing at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven, Belgium. His principal teachers were Reitze Smits (organ) and Kris Verhelst (harpsichord and continuo). Jacobs earned master's degrees in organ (2000) and harpsichord (2002), both with high honors, and he continued his education with master classes, often focusing on historical performance practice, while working, from 2000, as organist of the Brussels Cathedral Choir. He has recorded various works for organ and choir with that ensemble. He placed highly in several major competitions between 2006 and 2010, including a 2009 first prize at the Schnitger Competition in Alkmaar, the Netherlands; he was the first Belgian musician to win that prize.
The year 2012 saw Jacobs' appointment as organist at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels, home to a splendid 4,300-pipe instrument by German builder Gerhard Grenzing. This home base enabled Jacobs to undertake international touring with a wide variety of ensembles, mostly devoted to early music. These included Les Muffatti, Currende, Vox Luminis, Capilla Flamenca, Les Buffardins, Psallentes, the Pluto-Ensemble, the Hathor Consort, Collegium ad Mosam, the Vlaams Radiokoor, the Flanders Recorder Quartet, and BachPlus. Jacobs has carried out research in the neglected field of the use of large organs as continuo instruments. Among the results of this work was the double CD Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott: Luther and the Music of the Reformation, recorded with Vox Luminis. Jacobs has also reconstructed and performed lost organ concertos by J.S. Bach and C.P.E. Bach. In addition to the Brussels Cathedral organ, Jacobs also performs on a smaller instrument at the Onze-Lieve-Vroukerk in Bornem, Belgium. He lives in the Belgian city of Eikevliet.