Bernard Foccroulle was born into a music-loving family in which his mother played the piano and his siblings also made music. He began playing the organ at the age of 12 and then studied with Hubert Schoonbroodt at the conservatory in his hometown of Liège. Further studies followed with Xavier Darasse and Gustav Leonhardt.
His reputation rose after he was invited to the Royan Festival. His recording of the complete works for organ by Johann Sebastian Bach on various historical organs on 18 CDs made him famous beyond the borders of his home country.
He is fond of both baroque and contemporary music and was for a time a teacher of music analysis at the Liège Conservatoire. In the field of modern music, he has performed premieres or first recordings of works by composers Luciano Berio, Philippe Boesmans, Amy Johansen, György Ligeti, his teacher Xavier Darasse and others.
With the Ricercar Consort, founded in 1980 by Foccroulle, Philippe Pierlot and François Fernandez, he has made numerous recordings of works by North German Baroque composers from the time before Bach.
His compositional output includes organ works, but also chamber music partly with viola da gamba.
In 1992, Foccroulle was appointed general director of the Brussels Opera, the Royal Monnaie Theatre. He continued the successful work of his predecessor Gerard Mortier, who had helped the opera house to international renown. In 2007, he handed over this post to Peter de Caluwe after 15 years. He then succeeded Stéphane Lissner as artistic director at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence from 2007 to 2018. Alongside this role, he taught as professor of organ at the Brussels Conservatoire from 2009 to 2019. He continues to appear as a concert organist.
From 2001 to 2009, Foccroulle was vice-president of the Brussels-based association "Opera Europa", to which 153 opera houses from 39 countries are affiliated.
Works recorded by AEOLUS: