Paul Meyer is known for a wide repertory and an interest in modern works for clarinet. He began studying clarinet as a child and made his solo debut with the Symphony Orchestra of the Rhine at the age of 13. He studied at the Paris Conservatory and the Basle, Switzerland Music Academy. In 1982, he was runner-up in the Eurovision Young Musicians Competition. The same year, he won the Young Artists Competition in New York, which secured him representation of the Young Artists organization and backing for recitals in New York. He came to the attention of the venerable clarinetist Benny Goodman, resulting in an influential and important musical friendship.
Meyer has gone on to an illustrious career. He has played with leading orchestras of Europe, the United States, and Australia with such conductors as Kent Nagano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Yehudi Menuhin, Jerzy Maksimiuk, Ulf Schirmer, Heinrich Schiff, David Zinman, and Günther Herbig. He has played with the Emerson, Hague, Cleveland, and Melos string quartets. He is usually accompanied in duo recitals by pianist Eric le Sage, but has also played with pianist Maria João Pires, violinists Isaac Stern and Gidon Kremer, soprano Barbara Hendricks, flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.
Meyer's repertory includes the standard works by composers such as Mozart, Brahms, Weber, Nielsen, Copland, and Brahms, but also clarinet works of such lesser-known figures as Pleyel, Krommer, Fuchs, Rolla, Danzi, and the French composers Chausson, Debussy, Milhaud, and Poulenc.
His modern repertory includes music of Stockhausen, Jolivet, Messiaen, Boulez, Morton Gould, and Henze.
He has sought to enlarge the repertory for his instrument. In 1991, he premiered Gerd Kühr's Clarinet Concerto at the Salzburg Festival with the Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ulf Schimmer conducting and in 1994 premiered the Clarinet Concerto of Krzysztof Penderecki with the Sinfonia Varsovia, the composer conducting. Meyer prepared a clarinet version of Penderecki's Viola Concerto, which the composer accepted, conducting its world premiere also in 1994. The instrument company Vandoren commissioned Alternatim, a concerto for clarinet and viola by Luciano Berio for him.
Meyer is active in the recording studio, and some of his recordings have won major international prizes. One of his most highly regarded releases is the Denon CD French Clarinet Art with Eric le Sage. He has also recorded for CBS Masterworks, Erato, and AKM and has recorded the tango-oriented work Concerto para quintetto by Astor Piazzolla on the Nonesuch label.
At the turn of the century, Meyer began conducting and secured engagements on the podium with the Munich Chamber Orchestra and the English Chamber Orchestra, and for a performance of Bizet's opera Carmen.