Born in Gaasbeek in 1936, Jozef SLUYS gained his diploma at the Lemmens Institute in Louvain and completed his studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Music in Brussels where, in addition to various First Prizes, he obtained the Mailly and Arnold Prizes for organ.
Appointed organist to the Civitas Dei church at the Brussels Universal Exhibition in 1958, then to St. Peter’s, Jette (Brussels), he became the Organist of the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in 1971.
He began his international career as a prize-winner at the International Bach Competition in 1963. Both at home and abroad his outstanding reputation as a concert organist has taken him throughout Europe, to the United States, to the former countries of the Soviet Union, the Congo, New Zealand, Mexico and South Africa.
Very active on the Belgian musical scene, Jozef Sluys has launched and directs a number of concert series : the Cathedral Concerts, the Brussels International Organ Week, and the Historical Concerts at the church of Our Blessed Lady at Lombeek. He also taught the organ at the Lemmens Institute at Louvain for a number of years, and founded the Public Academy of Music in Schaerbeek of which he remained the Director until 1995.
He has also been instrumental in revealing the riches of the organ tradition in Belgium to the wider public. He has issued a number of CDs in the “Organa Belgica” series devoted to the works of Belgian composers such as A. De Boeck, E. Tinel, J. Jongen, F. Peeters, and P. Verkaeren. His recording of the works of Lemmens was honoured with the prize of the Belgian Musical Press Association in 1979.
Jozef SLUYS has recently made two CDs of the music of the Belgian Court organists P. Cornet and A. van den Kerckhoven, and a series of CDs of Bach on the organs of Gottfried Silbermann for the firm Gailly. His collection also includes the six Sonatas by Mendelssohn performed on the monumental Walcker organ in Riga, Latvia.
He has given numerous radio and television performances and taken part in events such as the funeral of King Baudouin and the marriage of Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde. In 2000 he played for the Spanish sovereigns when they visited the exhibition of the “Tapestries of the Spanish Crown” and on Eurovision when the new G renzing organ in the Cathedral was blessed by Cardinal Danneels.
In 1990 the Minister of Culture of France conferred the title of “Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters” on Jozef SLUYS.
In 1996 and again in 1997 he was appointed “Cultural Ambassador of Flanders”.
In 2000 he was awarded the “Fuga” trophy for his work in publicising the achievements of Belgian composers.