Bernard Lagacé is perhaps the leading Canadian organist of his generation. He has tended to focus on music from the Baroque period and is considered one of the foremost interpreters of the organ music of J.S. Bach. He is also associated with the music of Couperin and Frescobaldi, but possesses a broad repertory encompassing a large number of works from most musical periods. He has made a number of recordings, mostly for the Canadian label Analekta. As a teacher Lagacé has had several highly successful students, including Luc Beauséjour, Hélène Dugal, André Laberge, and, most importantly, his wife Mireille Lagacé and daughter Geneviève Lagacé. Bernard Lagacé is generally considered to have been instrumental in the revival of the organ in both Canada and the United States.
Lagacé was born on November 21, 1930, in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada. As a precocious youth, he studied organ at the Séminaire de St. Hyacinthe with Conrad Letendre. By the age of 14 he was the organist there, and in 1948 became substitute organist (and later primary organist) at St. Jean Baptiste Church in Montreal. Around this time he studied piano with Yvonne Hubert and harmony and counterpoint with Gabriel Cusson.
In Paris, on scholarship, Lagacé studied organ with André Marchal from 1954-1956, and with Anton Heiller from 1956-1957 at the Vienna Music Academy. There he also studied harpsichord with Isolde Ahlgrimm and Eta Harich-Schneider. In the mid-'50s Lagacé had become a familiar name on the concert scene in Paris and Vienna, and although he returned to Montreal to teach at the Quebec Conservatory of Music in 1957, he continued to appear regularly in concerts throughout Europe, as well as in North America in the coming years.
Lagacé left the Quebec Conservatory in 1978 and accepted a faculty post that same year at Concordia University in Montreal. By now he was a recognized master of Bach's organ music, having performed the composer's complete output in a series of acclaimed concerts from 1975-1977 in Montreal's Immaculate Conception Church. He played the Bach cycle there again in 1987-1989. In the 1990s Lagacé made a series of important and highly praised Bach recordings for Analekta, eventually covering the entire output. His 22-disc set, released in 2000, was somewhat unusual in its inclusion of works usually played on harpsichord, such as the Goldberg Variations and the Well-Tempered Clavier.