Olivier Messiaen

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Olivier Messiaen Olivier Messiaen in 1946 Olivier Messiaen (French: [ɔlivje mɛsjɑ̃]; December 10, 1908 – April 27, 1992) was a French composer, organist, and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex; harmoni- cally and melodically it often uses modes of limited trans- position, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations. Messiaen also drew on his Roman Catholic faith for his pieces. He travelled widely and wrote works inspired by diverse influences such as Japanese music, the landscape of Bryce Canyon in Utah and the life of St. Francis of Assisi. He said he perceived colours when he heard certain musical chords (a phenomenon known as synaesthesia in its literal manifestation); combinations of these colours, he said, were important in his compositional process. For a short period Messiaen experimented with the parametrisation associated with “total serialism", in which field he is of- ten cited as an innovator. His style absorbed many ex- otic musical influences such as Indonesian gamelan (tuned percussion often features prominently in his orchestral works). Messiaen entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 11 and was taught by Paul Dukas, Maurice Emmanuel, Charles-Marie Widor and Marcel Dupré, among others. He was appointed organist at the Église de la Sainte- Trinité in Paris in 1931, a post held until his death. He taught at the Schola Cantorum de Paris during the 1930s. On the fall of France in 1940, Messiaen was made a pris- oner of war, during which time he composed his Quatuor pour la fin du temps (“Quartet for the end of time”) for the four available instruments—piano, violin, cello and clarinet. The piece was first performed by Messiaen and fellow prisoners for an audience of inmates and prison guards. He was appointed professor of harmony soon af- ter his release in 1941, and professor of composition in 1966 at the Paris Conservatoire, positions he held until his retirement in 1978. His many distinguished pupils included Quincy Jones, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stock- hausen and Yvonne Loriod, who became his second wife. He found birdsong fascinating, notating bird songs world- wide and incorporating birdsong transcriptions into his music. His innovative use of colour, his conception of the relationship between time and music, and his use of bird- song are among the features that make Messiaen’s music distinctive. 1 Biography 1.1 Youth and studies Messiaen with his mother and father in 1910 1

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Olivier Messiaen

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  • Olivier Messiaen

    Olivier Messiaen in 1946

    Olivier Messiaen (French: [livje msj]; December 10,1908 April 27, 1992) was a French composer, organist,and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20thcentury. His music is rhythmically complex; harmoni-cally and melodically it often uses modes of limited trans-position, which he abstracted from his early compositionsand improvisations. Messiaen also drew on his RomanCatholic faith for his pieces.He travelled widely and wrote works inspired by diverseinuences such as Japanesemusic, the landscape of BryceCanyon in Utah and the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Hesaid he perceived colours when he heard certain musicalchords (a phenomenon known as synaesthesia in its literalmanifestation); combinations of these colours, he said,were important in his compositional process. For a shortperiod Messiaen experimented with the parametrisationassociated with total serialism", in which eld he is of-ten cited as an innovator. His style absorbed many ex-oticmusical inuences such as Indonesian gamelan (tunedpercussion often features prominently in his orchestralworks).Messiaen entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of11 and was taught by Paul Dukas, Maurice Emmanuel,Charles-Marie Widor and Marcel Dupr, among others.He was appointed organist at the glise de la Sainte-Trinit in Paris in 1931, a post held until his death. Hetaught at the Schola Cantorum de Paris during the 1930s.On the fall of France in 1940, Messiaen was made a pris-oner of war, during which time he composed his Quatuorpour la n du temps (Quartet for the end of time) forthe four available instrumentspiano, violin, cello andclarinet. The piece was rst performed by Messiaen andfellow prisoners for an audience of inmates and prison

    guards. He was appointed professor of harmony soon af-ter his release in 1941, and professor of composition in1966 at the Paris Conservatoire, positions he held untilhis retirement in 1978. His many distinguished pupilsincluded Quincy Jones, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stock-hausen and Yvonne Loriod, who became his second wife.He found birdsong fascinating, notating bird songs world-wide and incorporating birdsong transcriptions into hismusic. His innovative use of colour, his conception of therelationship between time and music, and his use of bird-song are among the features that make Messiaens musicdistinctive.

    1 Biography

    1.1 Youth and studies

    Messiaen with his mother and father in 1910



    Olivier Eugne Prosper Charles Messiaen was born De-cember 10, 1908 in Avignon, France, into a liter-ary family.[1] He was the elder of two sons of CcileSauvage, a poet, and Pierre Messiaen, a teacher of En-glish who translated the plays of William Shakespeareinto French.[2] Messiaens mother published a sequenceof poems, L'me en bourgeon (The Budding Soul), thelast chapter of Tandis que la terre tourne (As the EarthTurns), which address her unborn son. Messiaen latersaid this sequence of poems inuenced him deeply andhe cited it as prophetic of his future artistic career.[3]

    At the outbreak of World War I, Pierre Messiaen enlistedand Ccile took their two boys to live with her brotherin Grenoble. There Messiaen became fascinated withdrama, reciting Shakespeare to his brother with the helpof a home-made toy theatre with translucent backdropsmade from old cellophane wrappers.[4] At this time healso adopted the Roman Catholic faith. Later, Messiaenfelt most at home in the Alps of the Dauphin, where hehad a house built south of Grenoble where he composedmost of his music.[5]

    He took piano lessons having already taught himself toplay. His interest included the recent music of Frenchcomposers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, and heasked for opera vocal scores for Christmas presents.[6]Around this time he began to compose. In 1918 his fatherreturned from the war and the family moved to Nantes.He continued music lessons; one of his teachers, Jehande Gibon, gave him a score of Debussys opera Pellas etMlisande, which Messiaen described as a thunderboltand probably the most decisive inuence on me.[7] Thefollowing year Pierre Messiaen gained a teaching post inParis. Messiaen entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1919,aged 11.[8]

    Paul Dukas's composition class at the Paris Conservatoire, 1929.Messiaen sits at the far right; Dukas stands at the centre

    At the Conservatoire, Messiaen made excellent academicprogress. In 1924, aged 15, he was awarded second prizein harmony, having been taught in that subject by pro-fessor Jean Gallon. In 1925 he won rst prize in pi-ano accompaniment, and in 1926 he gained rst prizein fugue. After studying with Maurice Emmanuel, hewas awarded second prize for the history of music in1928.[9] Emmanuels example engendered an interest inancient Greek rhythms and exotic modes.[10] After show-ing improvisation skills on the piano Messiaen studiedorgan with Marcel Dupr.[11] Messiaen gained rst prizein organ playing and improvisation in 1929.[10] After ayear studying composition with Charles-Marie Widor, in

    autumn 1927 he entered the class of the newly appointedPaul Dukas. Messiaens mother died of tuberculosisshortly before the class began.[12] Despite his grief, he re-sumed his studies, and in 1930 Messiaen won rst prizein composition.[10]

    While a student he composed his rst published workshis eight Prludes for piano (the earlier Le banquetcleste was published subsequently). These exhibitMessiaens use of his modes of limited transpositionand palindromic rhythms (Messiaen called these non-retrogradable rhythms). His public dbut came in 1931with his orchestral suite Les orandes oublies. That yearhe rst heard a gamelan group, sparking his interest in theuse of tuned percussion.[13]

    1.2 La Trinit, La jeune France, and Mes-siaens war

    glise de la Sainte-Trinit, Paris, where Messiaen was titular or-ganist for 61 years

    In the autumn of 1927, Messiaen joined Dupr's or-gan course. Dupr later wrote that Messiaen, havingnever seen an organ console, sat quietly for an hour whileDupr explained and demonstrated the instrument, andthen came back a week later to play Johann SebastianBach's Fantasia in C minor to an impressive standard.[14]From 1929, Messiaen regularly deputised at the glisede la Sainte-Trinit, Paris, for the organist Charles Quef,who was ill at the time. The post became vacant in

  • 1.3 Tristan and serialism 3

    1931 when Quef died, and Dupr, Charles Tournemireand Widor among others supported Messiaens candi-dacy. His formal application included a letter of recom-mendation fromWidor. The appointment was conrmedin 1931,[15] and he remained the organist at the churchfor more than sixty years.[16] He also assumed a post atthe Schola Cantorum de Paris in the early 1930s.[17] In1932, he composed the Apparition de l'eglise eternelle fororgan.

    Messiaen in 1930

    Hemarried the violinist and composer Claire Delbos alsoin 1932. Their marriage inspired him to both composeworks for her to play (Thme et variations for violin andpiano in the year they were married) and to write piecesto celebrate their domestic happiness, including the songcycle Pomes pour Mi in 1936, which he orchestrated in1937. Mi was Messiaens aectionate nickname for hiswife.[18] In 1937 their son Pascal was born.[19] The mar-riage turned to tragedy when Delbos lost her memory af-ter an operation and spent the rest of her life in mentalinstitutions.[20]

    In 1936, along with Andr Jolivet, Daniel-Lesur and YvesBaudrier, Messiaen formed the group La jeune France(Young France). Their manifesto implicitly attackedthe frivolity predominant in contemporary Parisian musicand rejected Jean Cocteau's 1918 Le coq et l'arlequin infavour of a living music, having the impetus of sincerity,generosity and artistic conscientiousness.[21] Messiaenscareer soon departed from this polemical phase.In response to a commission for a piece to accompany

    light-and-water shows on the Seine during the Paris Expo-sition, in 1937 Messiaen demonstrated his interest in us-ing the ondesMartenot, an electronic instrument, by com-posing Ftes des belles eaux for an ensemble of six.[22] Heincluded a part for the instrument in several of his subse-quent compositions.[23] During this period he composedseveral multi-movement organ works. He arranged hisorchestral suite L'ascension (The Ascension) for organ,replacing the orchestral versions third movement with anentirely new movement, Transports de joie d'une me de-vant la gloire du Christ qui est la sienne (Ecstasies of asoul before the glory of Christ which is the souls own)( listen ).[24] He also wrote the extensive cycles La Na-tivit du Seigneur (The Nativity of the Lord) and Lescorps glorieux (The glorious bodies).[25]

    At the outbreak of World War II, Messiaen was draftedinto the French army. Due to poor eyesight, he wasenlisted as a medical auxiliary rather than an activecombatant.[26] He was captured at Verdun and taken toGrlitz in May 1940, and was imprisoned at Stalag VIII-A. He met a violinist, a cellist and a clarinettist among hisfellow prisoners. He wrote a trio for them, which he grad-ually incorporated into his Quatuor pour la n du temps(Quartet for the End of Time). The Quartet was rstperformed in January 1941 to an audience of prisonersand prison guards, with the composer playing a poorlymaintained upright piano in freezing conditions.[27] Thusthe enforced introspection and reection of camp lifebore fruit in one of 20th-century European classical mu-sics acknowledged masterpieces. The titles end oftime alludes to the Apocalypse, and also to the way inwhichMessiaen, through rhythm and harmony, used timein a manner completely dierent from his predecessorsand contemporaries.[28]

    1.3 Tristan and serialism

    See also: List of students of Olivier Messiaen

    Shortly after his release from Grlitz in May 1941, Mes-siaen was appointed a professor of harmony at the ParisConservatoire, where he taught until his retirement in1978.[29] He compiled his Technique de mon langage mu-sical (Technique of my musical language) publishedin 1944, in which he quotes many examples from hismusic, particularly the Quartet.[30] Although only in hismid-thirties, his students described him as an outstandingteacher.[31] Among his early students were the composersPierre Boulez and Karel Goeyvaerts. Other pupils in-cluded Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1952, Alexander Goehrin 195657, Tristan Murail in 196772 and George Ben-jamin during the late 1970s.[32] The Greek composerIannis Xenakis was referred to him in 1951; Messiaenurged Xenakis to take advantage of his background inmathematics and architecture in his music.[33]

    In 1943, Messiaen wrote Visions de l'Amen (Visions of


    the Amen) for two pianos for Yvonne Loriod and him-self to perform. Shortly thereafter he composed the enor-mous solo piano cycle Vingt regards sur l'enfant-Jsus(Twenty gazes upon the child Jesus) for her.[34] Againfor Loriod, he wrote Trois petites liturgies de la prsencedivine (Three small liturgies of the Divine Presence)for female chorus and orchestra which includes a di-cult solo piano part.[35]

    Two years after Visions de l'Amen, Messiaen composedthe song cycle Harawi, the rst of three works inspiredby the legend of Tristan and Isolde. The second of theseworks about human (as opposed to divine) love was theresult of a commission from Serge Koussevitzky. Messi-aen stated that the commission did not specify the lengthof the work or the size of the orchestra. This was theten-movement Turangalla-Symphonie. It is not a con-ventional symphony, but rather an extended meditationon the joy of human union and love. It does not con-tain the sexual guilt inherent in Richard Wagner's Tristanund Isolde because Messiaen believed that sexual loveis a divine gift.[26] The third piece inspired by the Tris-tan myth was Cinq rechants for twelve unaccompaniedsingers, described by Messiaen as inuenced by the albaof the troubadours.[36] Messiaen visited the United Statesin 1949, where his music was conducted by Koussevitskyand Leopold Stokowski. His Turangalla-Symphonie wasrst performed in the US in 1949, conducted by LeonardBernstein.[37]

    Messiaen taught an analysis class at the Paris Conser-vatoire. In 1947 he taught (and performed with Lo-riod) for two weeks in Budapest.[38] In 1949 he taughtat Tanglewood.[39] Beginning in summer 1949 he taughtin the new music summer school classes at Darmstadt.[40]While he did not employ the twelve-tone technique, afterthree years teaching analysis of twelve-tone scores, in-cluding works by Arnold Schoenberg, he experimentedwith ways of making scales of other elements (includ-ing duration, articulation and dynamics) analogous to thechromatic pitch scale. The results of these innovationswas the Mode de valeurs et d'intensits for piano (fromthe Quatre tudes de rythme)[41] which has been mislead-ingly described as the rst work of total serialism. It had alarge inuence on the earliest European serial composersincluding Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen.[42]During this period he also experimented with musiqueconcrte, music for recorded sounds.[43]

    1.4 Birdsong and the 1960s

    When in 1952 Messiaen was asked to provide a test piecefor autists wishing to enter the Paris Conservatoire, hecomposed the piece Le merle noir for ute and piano.While he had long been fascinated by birdsong, and birdshad made appearances in several of his earlier works (forexample La Nativit, Quatuor andVingt regards), the utepiece was based entirely on the song of the blackbird.[44]

    He took this development to a new level with his 1953orchestral work Rveil des oiseauxits material con-sists almost entirely of the birdsong one might hear be-tween midnight and noon in the Jura.[45] From this pe-riod onwards, Messiaen incorporated birdsong into all ofhis compositions and composed several works for whichbirds provide both the title and subject matter (for exam-ple the collection of thirteen pieces for piano Catalogued'oiseaux completed in 1958, and La fauvette des jardinsof 1971).[46] Paul Griths observed that Messiaen was amore conscientious ornithologist than any previous com-poser, and a more musical observer of birdsong than anyprevious ornithologist.[47]

    The garden warbler provided the title and much of the materialfor Messiaens La fauvette des jardins.

    Messiaens rst wife died in 1959 after a long illness, andin 1961 he married Loriod.[48] He began to travel widely,to attendmusical events and to seek out and transcribe thesongs of more exotic birds in the wild. Loriod frequentlyassisted her husbands detailed studies of birdsong whilewalking with him, by making tape recordings for laterreference.[49] In 1962 he visited Japan, where Gagakumusic and Noh theatre inspired the orchestral Japanesesketches, Sept haka, which contain stylised imitationsof traditional Japanese instruments.[50]

    Messiaens music was by this time championed by,among others, Pierre Boulez, who programmed rstperformances at his Domaine musical concerts and theDonaueschingen festival.[51] Works performed includedRveil des oiseaux, Chronochromie (commissioned for the1960 festival) and Couleurs de la cit cleste. The lat-ter piece was the result of a commission for a compo-sition for three trombones and three xylophones; Messi-aen added to this more brass, wind, percussion and pi-ano, and specied a xylophone, xylorimba and marimbarather than three xylophones.[52] Another work of thisperiod, Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, was com-missioned as a commemoration of the dead of the twoWorldWars and was performed rst semi-privately in the

  • 5Sainte-Chapelle, then publicly in Chartres Cathedral withCharles de Gaulle in the audience.[53]

    His reputation as a composer continued to grow and in1959, he was nominated as an Ocier of the Lgiond'honneur.[54] In 1966 he was ocially appointed profes-sor of composition at the Paris Conservatoire, although hehad in eect been teaching composition for years.[55] Fur-ther honours included election to the Institut de Francein 1967 and the Acadmie des beaux-arts in 1968, theErasmus Prize in 1971, the award of the Royal Philhar-monic Society Gold Medal and the Ernst von SiemensMusic Prize in 1975, the Sonning Award (Denmarkshighest musical honour) in 1977, the Wolf Prize in Artsin 1982, and the presentation of the Croix de Commanderof the Belgian Order of the Crown in 1980.[56]

    1.5 Transguration, Canyons, St. Francis,and the Beyond

    Messiaens next work was the large-scale La Transg-uration de Notre Seigneur Jsus-Christ. The compo-sition occupied him from 1965 to 1969 and the mu-sicians employed include a 100-voice ten-part choir,seven solo instruments and large orchestra. Its four-teen movements are a meditation on the story of ChristsTransguration.[57] Shortly after its completion, Messi-aen received a commission fromAlice Tully for a work tocelebrate the U.S. bicentennial. He arranged a visit to theUS in spring 1972, and was inspired by Bryce Canyon inUtah, where he observed the canyons distinctive coloursand birdsong.[58] The twelve-movement orchestral pieceDes canyons aux toiles... was the result, rst performedin 1974 in New York.[59]

    In 1971, he was asked to compose a piece for theParis Opra. While reluctant to undertake such a majorproject, he was persuaded in 1975 to accept the commis-sion and began work on his Saint-Franois d'Assise. Thecomposition was intensive (he also wrote his own libretto)and occupied him from 1975 to 1979; the orchestrationwas carried out from 1979 until 1983.[60] Messiaen pre-ferred to describe the nal work as a spectacle ratherthan an opera. It was rst performed in 1983. Some com-mentators at the time thought that the opera would be hisvalediction (at times Messiaen himself believed so),[61]but he continued to compose. In 1984 he published a ma-jor collection of organ pieces, Livre du Saint Sacrement;other works include birdsong pieces for solo piano, andworks for piano with orchestra.[62]

    In the summer of 1978, Messiaen retired from teach-ing at the Conservatoire. He was promoted to the high-est rank of the Lgion d'honneur, the Grand-Croix, in1987.[63] An operation prevented his participation in thecelebration of his 70th birthday in 1978,[64] but in 1988tributes for Messiaens 80th included a complete perfor-mance in Londons Royal Festival Hall of St. Franois,which the composer attended,[65] and Erato's publication

    of a seventeen-CD collection of Messiaens music includ-ing a disc of the composer in conversation with ClaudeSamuel.[66]

    Although in considerable pain near the end of his life (re-quiring repeated surgery on his back)[67] he was able tofull a commission from the NewYork Philharmonic Or-chestra, clairs sur l'au-del..., which was premired sixmonths after his death. He died in Paris on April 27,1992.[68]

    On going through his papers, Loriod discovered that, inthe last months of his life, he had been composing aconcerto for four musicians he felt particularly gratefulto, namely herself, the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, theoboist Heinz Holliger and the autist Catherine Cantin(hence the title Concert quatre). Four of the ve in-tended movements were substantially complete; YvonneLoriod undertook the orchestration of the second half ofthe rst movement and of the whole of the fourth withadvice from George Benjamin. It was premiered by thededicatees in September 1994.[69]

    2 MusicMessiaens music has been described as outside the west-ern musical tradition, although growing out of that tra-dition and being inuenced by it.[70] Much of his out-put denies the western conventions of forward motion,development and diatonic harmonic resolution. This ispartly due to the symmetries of his techniquefor in-stance the modes of limited transposition do not ad-mit the conventional cadences found in western classicalmusic.[71]

    His youthful love for the fairy-tale element in Shake-speare pregured his later expressions of Catholicliturgy.[72] Messiaen was not interested in depicting as-pects of theology such as sin;[73] rather he concentratedon the theology of joy, divine love and redemption.[74]

    Messiaen continually evolved new composition tech-niques, always integrating them into his existing musi-cal style; his nal works still retain the use of modesof limited transposition.[71] For many commentators thiscontinual development made every major work from theQuatuor onwards a conscious summation of all that Mes-siaen had composed up to that time. However, very fewof these major works lack new technical ideassimpleexamples being the introduction of communicable lan-guage in Meditations, the invention of a new percussioninstrument (the geophone) for Des canyons aux etoiles...,and the freedom from any synchronisation with the mainpulse of individual parts in certain birdsong episodes ofSt. Franois d'Assise.[75]

    As well as discovering new techniques, Messiaen foundand absorbed exotic music, including Ancient Greekrhythms,[10] Hindu rhythms (he encountered r-gadevas list of 120 rhythmic units, the de-tlas),[76]

  • 6 2 MUSIC

    Example 1. A page from Oiseaux exotiques. It illustratesMessiaens use of ancient and exotic rhythms (in the percussionnear the bottom of the score "Asclepiad" and "Sapphic" are an-cient Greek rhythms, and Nibankalla is a dec-tla from r-gadeva). It also illustrates Messiaens precision in notating bird-song: the birds identied here are the white-crested laughingthrush (garralaxe huppe blanche) in the brass and wind in-struments, and the orchard oriole (troupiale des vergers) playedon the xylophone.

    Balinese and Javanese Gamelan, birdsong, and Japanesemusic (see Example 1 for an instance of his use of ancientGreek and Hindu rhythms).[77]

    While he was instrumental in the academic exploration ofhis techniques (he compiled two treatises: the later one inve volumes was substantially complete when he died andwas published posthumously), and was himself a mas-ter of music analysis, he considered the development andstudy of techniques to be a means to intellectual, aestheticand emotional ends. Thus Messiaen maintained that amusical composition must be measured against three sep-arate criteria: it must be interesting, beautiful to listen to,and it must touch the listener.[78]

    Messiaen wrote a large body of music for the piano. Al-though a considerable pianist himself, he was undoubt-edly assisted by Yvonne Loriods formidable piano tech-nique and ability to convey complex rhythms and rhyth-mic combinations; in his piano writing from Visions del'Amen onwards he had her in mind. Messiaen said, I amable to allow myself the greatest eccentricities because toher anything is possible.[79]

    2.1 Western artistic inuences

    Developments in modern French music were a major in-uence onMessiaen, particularly themusic of ClaudeDe-bussy and his use of the whole-tone scale (which Mes-siaen called Mode 1 in his modes of limited transposi-tion). Messiaen very rarely used the whole-tone scalein his compositions because, he said, after Debussy andDukas there was nothing to add,[80] but the modes hedid use are all similarly symmetrical.Messiaen had a great admiration for the music of IgorStravinsky, particularly the use of rhythm in earlier workssuch as The Rite of Spring, and his use of colour. He wasfurther inuenced by the orchestral brilliance of HeitorVilla-Lobos, who lived in Paris in the 1920s and gaveacclaimed concerts there. Among composers for thekeyboard, Messiaen singled out Jean-Philippe Rameau,Domenico Scarlatti, Frdric Chopin, Debussy and IsaacAlbniz.[79] He loved the music of Modest Mussorgskyand incorporated varied modications of what he calledthe M-shaped melodic motif from Mussorgskys BorisGodunov,[80] although he modied the nal interval inthis motif from a perfect fourth to a tritone (Example3).[81]

    Messiaen was further inuenced by Surrealism, as maybe seen from the titles of some of the piano Prludes (Unreet dans le vent..., A reection in the wind)[82] and insome of the imagery of his poetry (he published poemsas prefaces to certain works, for example Les orandesoublies).[83]

    2.2 Colour

    Colour lies at the heart of Messiaens music. He be-lieved that terms such as "tonal", "modal" and "serial"are misleading analytical conveniences.[84] For him therewere no modal, tonal or serial compositions, only mu-sic with or without colour.[85] He said that Claudio Mon-teverdi, Mozart, Chopin, Richard Wagner, Mussorgskyand Stravinsky all wrote strongly coloured music.[86]

    In certain of Messiaens scores, he notated the coloursin the music (notably in Couleurs de la cit cleste andDes canyons aux toiles...)the purpose being to aid theconductor in interpretation rather than to specify whichcolours the listener should experience. The importanceof colour is linked to Messiaens synaesthesia, which hesaid caused him to experience colours when he heardor imagined music (he said that he did not perceive thecolours visually). In his multi-volume music theory trea-tise Trait de rythme, de couleur, et d'ornithologie (Trea-tise of Rhythm, Colour and Birdsong), Messiaen wrotedescriptions of the colours of certain chords. His de-scriptions range from the simple (gold and brown) tothe highly detailed (blue-violet rocks, speckled with littlegrey cubes, cobalt blue, deep Prussian blue, highlightedby a bit of violet-purple, gold, red, ruby, and stars of

  • 2.4 Time and rhythm 7

    mauve, black and white. Blue-violet is dominant).[87]

    When asked what Messiaens main inuence had been oncomposers, George Benjamin said, I think the sheer ...colour has been so inuential, ... rather than being a dec-orative element, [Messiaen showed that colour] could bea structural, a fundamental element, ... the fundamentalmaterial of the music itself.[88]

    2.3 Symmetry

    Many of Messiaens composition techniques made use ofsymmetries of time and pitch.[89]

    2.3.1 Time

    Example 2. The rst bar of the piano Prlude, Instants dfunts.An early example of Messiaens use of palindromic rhythms(which he called non-retrogradable rhythms).

    From his earliest works, Messiaen used non-retrogradable (palindromic) rhythms (Example 2).He sometimes combined rhythms with harmonic se-quences in such a way that if the process were allowedto proceed indenitely the music would eventually runthrough all the possible permutations and return to itsstarting point. For Messiaen, this represented the charmof impossibilities of these processes. He only everpresented a portion of any such process, as if allowingthe informed listener a glimpse of something eternal. Inthe rst movement of Quatuor pour la n du temps thepiano and cello together provide an early example.[90]

    2.3.2 Pitch

    Messiaen used modes which he called modes of lim-ited transposition.[71] They are distinguished as groups ofnotes which can only be transposed by a semitone a lim-ited number of times. For example, the whole-tone scale(Messiaens Mode 1) only exists in two transpositions:namely CDEFGA and DEFGAB.Mes-siaen abstracted these modes from the harmony of hisimprovisations and early works.[91] Music written usingthe modes avoids conventional diatonic harmonic pro-gressions, since for exampleMessiaensMode 2 (identicalto the octatonic scale used also by other composers) per-

    mits precisely the dominant seventh chords whose tonicthe mode does not contain.[92]

    2.4 Time and rhythm

    Example 3. An excerpt from Danse de la fureur, pour les septtrompettes from the Quatuor pour la n du temps. It illustratesMessiaens use of additive rhythmsin this example the additionof unpaired semiquavers (sixteenth notes) to an underlying qua-ver (eighth note) pulse and the lengthening of the nal quaver byaddition of a dot. It illustrates the use of what Messiaen calledthe Boris M-shaped motif (the last ve notes of the excerpt).

    As well as making use of non-retrogradable rhythm andthe Hindu dec-tlas, Messiaen also composed with ad-ditive rhythms. This involves lengthening individualnotes slightly or interpolating a short note into an oth-erwise regular rhythm (see Example 3), or shorteningor lengthening every note of a rhythm by the same du-ration (adding a semiquaver to every note in a rhythmon its repeat, for example).[93] This led Messiaen to userhythmic cells that irregularly alternate between two andthree units, a process which also occurs in StravinskysThe Rite of Spring, which Messiaen admired.[94]

    A factor that contributes to Messiaens suspension of theconventional perception of time in his music is the ex-tremely slow tempos he often species (the fth move-ment Louange l'eternit de Jsus of Quatuor is actuallygiven the tempo marking inniment lent).[95] Messiaenalso used the concept of chromatic durations, for ex-ample in his Soixante-quatre dures from Livre d'orgue( listen ), which is built from, in Messiaens words,64 chromatic durations from 1 to 64 demisemiquavers[thirty-second notes]invested in groups of 4, from theends to the centre, forwards and backwards alternatelytreated as a retrograde canon. The whole peopled withbirdsong.[96]

    2.5 HarmonyIn addition to making harmonic use of the modes of lim-ited transposition, he cited the harmonic series as a phys-ical phenomenon which provides chords with a contextwhich he felt to be missing in purely serial music.[97] Anexample ofMessiaens harmonic use of this phenomenon,which he called resonance, is the last two bars of hisrst piano Prlude, La colombe (The dove): the chord isbuilt from harmonics of the fundamental base note E.[98]

    Related to this use of resonance, Messiaen also composedmusic in which the lowest, or fundamental, note is com-bined with higher notes or chords played much more qui-etly. These higher notes, far from being perceived as con-ventional harmony, function as harmonics that alter the

  • 8 3 WORKS

    Example 4. The song of the golden oriole from Le loriot, partof Catalogue d'oiseaux. The birdsong played by the pianists lefthand (notated on the lower sta) provides the fundamental notes,and the quieter harmonies played by the right hand (on the uppersta) alter their timbre.

    timbre of the fundamental note like mixture stops on apipe organ.[99] An example is the song of the golden ori-ole in Le loriot of the Catalogue d'oiseaux for solo piano(Example 4).In his use of conventional diatonic chords, Messiaen of-ten transcended their historically banal connotations (forexample, his frequent use of the added sixth chord as aresolution).[100]

    2.6 Birdsong

    Birdsong fascinated Messiaen from an early age, and inthis he found encouragement from his teacher Dukas,who reportedly urged his pupils to listen to the birds.Messiaen included stylised birdsong in some of hisearly compositions (including L'abme d'oiseaux from theQuatuor pour la n du temps), integrating it into hissound-world by techniques like the modes of limitedtransposition and chord colouration. His evocations ofbirdsong became increasingly sophisticated, and with Lerveil des oiseaux this process reachedmaturity, the wholepiece being built from birdsong: in eect it is a dawn cho-rus for orchestra. The same can be said for Epode, theve-minute sixth movement of Chronochromie, whichis scored for eighteen violins, each one playing a dierentbirdsong. Messiaen notated the bird species with the mu-sic in the score (examples 1 and 4). The pieces are notsimple transcriptions; even the works with purely bird-inspired titles, such as Catalogue d'oiseaux and Fauvettedes jardins, are tone poems evoking the landscape, itscolours and atmosphere.[101]

    2.7 SerialismFor some compositions, Messiaen created scales for dura-tion, attack and timbre analogous to the chromatic pitchscale. He expressed annoyance at the historical impor-tance given to one of these works, Mode de valeurs etd'intensits, by musicologists intent on crediting him withthe invention of total serialism.[78]

    Messiaen later introduced what he called a communica-ble language, a musical alphabet to encode sentences.He rst used this technique in hisMditations sur le mys-tre de la Sainte Trinit for organ; where the alphabetincludes motifs for the concepts to have, to be and God,while the sentences encoded feature sections from thewritings of St. Thomas Aquinas.[102]

    3 Works

    3.1 Compositions

    An ondes Martenot, an electronic instrument, for whichMessiaenincluded a part in several of his compositions: the orchestra forhis opera Saint Franois d'Assise includes three of them

    3.1.1 Published

    Le banquet cleste (The heavenly banquet), organ(1928, a recomposition of a section from his unpub-lished orchestral piece Le banquet eucharistique[103])

    Prludes, piano (192829) Diptyque (Diptych), organ (1930) La mort du nombre (The death of numbers), so-prano, tenor, violin and piano (1930)

    Les orandes oublies (The forgotten oerings),orchestra (1930)

    Trois mlodies, song cycle (1930) Le Tombeau Resplendissant, orchestra (1931)

  • 3.1 Compositions 9

    Apparition de l'glise ternelle (Apparition of theeternal church), organ (1932)

    Fantaisie burlesque, piano (1932) Hymne au Saint Sacrement (Hymn to the HolySacrament), orchestra (1932, lost 1943, recon-structed from memory 1946[104])

    Thme et variations, (Theme and Variations) vio-lin and piano (1932)

    L'ascension (The Ascension), orchestra (193233; organ version including replacement movement,193334)

    La Nativit du Seigneur (The Lords nativity), or-gan (1935)

    Pice pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas (Piece writtenas a memorial of Paul Dukas), piano, (1935)

    Vocalise, voice and piano (1935) Pomes pourMi (Poems forMi"), song cycle (1936,orchestral version 1937)

    O sacrum convivium!, choral motet (1937) Chants de terre et de ciel (Songs of earth andheaven), song cycle (1938)

    Les corps glorieux (Glorious bodies), organ (1939) Quatuor pour la n du temps (Quartet for the endof time), violin, cello, clarinet, piano (194041)

    Rondeau, piano (1943) Visions de l'Amen (Visions of the Amen), two pi-anos (1943)

    Trois petites liturgies de la prsence divine (Threesmall liturgies of the Divine Presence), womensvoices, piano solo, ondes Martenot solo, orchestra(194344)

    Vingt regards sur l'enfant-Jsus (Twenty gazes onthe Christ-child), piano (1944)

    Harawi: Chants d'amour et de mort, (Harawi:Songs of love and death) song cycle (1944)

    Turangalla-Symphonie, piano solo, ondes Martenotsolo, orchestra (194648)

    Cinq rechants, 12 singers (1948) Cantyodjay, piano (1949) Messe de la Pentecte ("Pentecost mass), organ(194950)

    Quatre tudes de rythme (Four studies in rhythm),piano (194950)

    1. le de feu 12. Mode de valeurs et d'intensits3. Neumes rhythmiques4. le de feu 2

    Le merle noir (Blackbird), ute and piano(1952[105])

    Livre d'orgue, organ (19512) Rveil des oiseaux (Dawn chorus), solo piano andorchestra (1953)

    Oiseaux exotiques (Exotic birds), solo piano andwind ensemble (195556)

    Catalogue d'oiseaux (Bird catalogue), piano(195658)

    Book 1 i Le chocard des alpes ("Alpine chough") ii Le loriot ("Golden oriole") (loriot and

    Loriod are homophones) iii Le merle bleu ("Blue rock thrush")

    Book 2 iv Le traquet stapazin ("Black-earedwheatear")

    Book 3 v La chouette hulotte ("Tawny owl") vi L'alouette lulu ("Woodlark")

    Book 4 vii La rousserolle earvatte ("Reed war-bler")

    Book 5 viii L'alouette calandrelle ("Short-toedlark")

    ix La bouscarle ("Cettis warbler") Book 6

    x Le merle de roche ("Rufous-tailed rockthrush")

    Book 7 xi La buse variable ("Buzzard") xii Le traquet rieur ("Black wheatear") xiii Le courlis cendr ("Curlew")

    Chronochromie (Time-colour), orchestra (195960)

    Verset pour la fte de la ddicace (Verse for the fes-tival of dedication), organ (1960)

    Sept haka (Seven haikus"), solo piano and orches-tra (1962)

    Couleurs de la cit cleste (Colours of the CelestialCity), solo piano and ensemble (1963)

  • 10 4 NOTES

    Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum (And I awaitthe resurrection of the dead), wind, brass and per-cussion (1964)

    La Transguration de Notre Seigneur Jsus-Christ(The Transguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ),large 10-part chorus, piano solo, cello solo, utesolo, clarinet solo, xylorimba solo, vibraphone solo,large orchestra (196569)

    Mditations sur le mystre de la Sainte Trinit (Med-itations on the mystery of the Holy Trinity), organ(1969)

    La fauvette des jardins ("Garden warbler"), piano(1970)

    Des canyons aux toiles (From the canyons to thestars...), solo piano, solo horn, solo glockenspiel,solo xylorimba, small orchestra with 13 string play-ers (197174)

    Saint-Franois d'Assise (St Francis of Assisi),opera (19751983)

    Livre du Saint Sacrement (Book of the Holy Sacra-ment), organ (1984)

    Petites esquisses d'oiseaux (Small sketches ofbirds), piano (1985)

    Un vitrail et des oiseaux (Stained-glass windowand birds), piano solo, brass, wind and percussion(1986)

    La ville d'en-haut (The city on high), piano solo,brass, wind and percussion (1987)

    Un sourire (A smile), orchestra (1989) Pice pour piano et quatuor cordes (Piece for pi-ano and string quartet) (1991)

    clairs sur l'au-del... (Illuminations on the be-yond...), orchestra (198892)

    3.1.2 Unpublished, posthumously published, or lost

    A number of Messiaens compositions were not sanc-tioned by the composer for publication. They include thefollowing, some of which have been published posthu-mously and recorded, and some of which are lost.

    La dame de Shallott, for piano (1917) La banquet eucharistique, for orchestra (1928) Variations cossaises, for organ (1928) Mass, 8 sopranos and 4 violins (1933) Fantaisie, for violin and piano (1933; published2007)

    Ftes des belles eaux, for six ondesMartenots (1937) Musique de scne pour un dipe, electronic (1942) Chant des dports, chorus and orchestra (1945, thenlost, rediscovered 1991)

    Timbres-dures, musique concrte (1952), realisedby Pierre Henry in the radiophonic workshop ofFrench radio, an experiment which Messiaen laterdeemed a failure[106]

    Feuillets inedits for piano and ondes martenot (pub-lished 2001)

    Concert quatre (Quadruple concerto), piano,ute, oboe, cello and orchestra (199091, almostnished at the time of his death, completed by Lo-riod and Benjamin, premiered in 1994, published in2003)

    La Fauvette Passerinette ("Subalpine warbler"), pi-ano (1961), one of Messiaens birdsong pieces forsolo piano, discovered and edited for performanceby Peter Hill and premiered by him in November2013

    Un oiseau des arbres de vie (Oiseau tui) (A birdof the trees of life (Tui bird)"), a discarded move-ment from clairs sur lau-del, piano sketch withorchestration annotations discovered among Mes-siaens papers, orchestrated by Christopher Din-gle and rst performed at The Proms in August2015[107]

    3.2 Treatises Technique de mon langage musical (The techniqueof my musical language). Paris: Leduc, 1944.

    Vingt leons d'harmonie (20 harmony lessons).Paris: Leduc, 1944.

    Trait de rythme, de couleur, et d'ornithologie(19491992) (Treatise on rhythm, colour and or-nithology), completed by Yvonne Loriod. 7 partsbound in 8 volumes. Paris: Leduc, 19942002.

    Analyses of the Piano Works of Maurice Ravel,edited by Yvonne Loriod, translated by Paul Grif-ths. [Paris]: Durand, 2005.

    4 Notes[1] Dingle (2007), p. 3

    [2] Hill & Simeone (2005), pp. 1014

    [3] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 15

    [4] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 41

  • 11

    [5] Hill (1995), pp. 300301

    [6] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 109

    [7] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 110

    [8] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 16

    [9] Hill & Simeone (2005), pp. 1617

    [10] Sherlaw Johnson (1989), p. 10

    [11] Bannister (2013), p. 171

    [12] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 20

    [13] For further discussion of Messiaens youth, see, generally,Hill & Simeone (2005)

    [14] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 22

    [15] Hill & Simeone (2005), pp. 3437

    [16] Heller (2010), p. 68

    [17] Dingle (2007), p. 45

    [18] Sherlaw Johnson (1989), pp. 5657

    [19] Gillock (2009), p. 381

    [20] Yvonne Loriod, in Hill (1995), p. 294

    [21] From the programme for the opening concert of La jeuneFrance, quoted in Griths (1985), p. 72

    [22] Hill & Simeone (2005), pp. 7375

    [23] Dingle (2013), p. 34

    [24] Benitez (2008), p. 288

    [25] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 115

    [26] Griths (1985), p. 139

    [27] Rischin (2003), p. 5

    [28] See extended discussion in Griths (1985), Chapter 6: ATechnique for the End of Time, particularly pp. 104106

    [29] Benitez (2008), p. 155

    [30] Benitez (2008), p. 33

    [31] Pierre Boulez in Hill (1995), pp. 266

    [32] Benitez (2008), p. xiii

    [33] Matossian (1986), p. 48

    [34] Sherlaw Johnson (1989), pp. 11, 64

    [35] Hill & Simeone (2007), p. 21

    [36] Griths (1985), p. 142

    [37] Hill & Simeone (2005), pp. 186192

    [38] Benitez (2008), p. 3

    [39] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 415

    [40] Hill & Simeone (2007), p. 11

    [41] Sherlaw Johnson (1989), p. 104

    [42] Sherlaw Johnson (1989), pp. 192194

    [43] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 198

    [44] Dingle (2007), p. 139. For a general discussion of Mes-siaens fusion of birdsong and music, see Hill & Simeone(2007)

    [45] Hill & Simeone (2007), p. 27

    [46] Kraft (2013)

    [47] Griths (1985), p. 168; see also Kraft (2013)

    [48] Benitez (2008), p. 4

    [49] Benitez (2008), p. 138

    [50] Messiaens visit to Japan is documented in Hill & Sime-one (2005), pp. 245251, and there is a more technicaldiscussion in Griths (1985), pp. 197200. MalcolmTroup, writing in Hill (1995), additionally notes the directinuence of Noh theatre on aspects of Messiaens opera StFranois d'Assise.

    [51] Benitez (2008), p. 280

    [52] Sherlaw Johnson (1989), p. 166

    [53] Simeone (2009), pp. 185195

    [54] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 245

    [55] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 306

    [56] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 333

    [57] Bruhn (2008), pp. 5796

    [58] Griths (1985), p. 225

    [59] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 301

    [60] Programme for Opra de la Bastille production of St.Franois d'Assise, p. 18

    [61] The composer in conversation with Jean-Cristophe Martiin 1992, see p. 29 of booklet accompanying the recordingof Saint-Franois d'Assise conducted by Kent Nagano onDeutsche Grammophon/PolyGram 445 176; see also Hill& Simeone (2005), pp. 340 and 342

    [62] Dingle (2013)

    [63] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 357

    [64] Dingle (2007), p. 207

    [65] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 371

    [66] Messiaen Edition. ArkivMusic. Retrieved September8, 2013.

    [67] Yvonne Loriod, in Hill (1995), p. 302

    [68] Gillock (2009), p. 383

    [69] Dingle (2013), pp. 293310

    [70] Griths (1985), p. 15


    [71] Griths (1985), Introduction

    [72] Olivier Messiaen. Schott Music. Retrieved September8, 2013.

    [73] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 213

    [74] Bruhn, Siglind; Deely, John (January 1996). Reli-gious Symbolism in the Music of Olivier Messiaen.The American Journal of Semiotics 13 (1): 277309.doi:10.5840/ajs1996131/412.

    [75] See for instance Griths (1985), p. 233, "[Des canyonsaux toiles...] is therefore not so much a synthesis, as hassometimes been suggested, but more a step into the futurethat also joins the circle with the composers past.

    [76] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 77

    [77] Coleman, John (November 24, 2008). Maestro ofJoy. America: the National Catholic Review. RetrievedSeptember 8, 2013.

    [78] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 47

    [79] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 114

    [80] Messiaen, Technique de mon langage musical

    [81] Bruhn (2008), p. 46

    [82] Sherlaw Johnson (1989), p. 26

    [83] Sherlaw Johnson (1989), p. 76

    [84] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), pp. 4950

    [85] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 63

    [86] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 62

    [87] See Messiaen, Olivier Trait de rythme, de couleur, etd'ornithologie. See also Bernard, Jonathan W. (1986).Messiaens Synaesthesia: The Correspondence betweenColor and Sound Structure in His Music. Music Percep-tion 4: 4168..

    [88] George Benjamin, speaking in interview with TommyPearson, broadcast on BBC4 in the interval of Prom con-cert in 2004 at which Benjamin conducted a performanceof Des canyons aux toiles... Asked what made Messi-aen so inuential he said, I think the sheerthe word helovedcolour has been so inuential. People, composers,have found that colour, rather than being a decorative ele-ment, could be a structural, a fundamental element. Andnot colour just in a surface way, not just in the way you or-chestrate itnothe fundamental material of the musicitself. More than that I can't say except that for my ownsmall world he was incredibly important, and an excep-tionally special and indeed wonderful person. I met himwhen I was very young (I was 16) and stayed closely intouch with him until he died in 1992, and was immenselyfond of him...

    [89] Benitez, Vincent (July 2009). Reconsidering Messi-aen as Serialist. Music Analysis 28 (23): 267299.doi:10.1111/j.1468-2249.2011.00293.x.

    [90] For discussion, see for example Iain G. Mathesons articleThe End of Time in Hill (1995), particularly pp. 237243

    [91] Hill (1995), p. 17

    [92] Griths (1985), p. 32

    [93] Bruhn (2008), pp. 3749

    [94] Dingle & Simeone (2007), p. 48

    [95] Pople (1998), p. 82

    [96] Quoted by Gillian Weir, who discusses the work in Hill(1995) pp. 364366

    [97] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), pp. 241242

    [98] Griths (1985) p. 34

    [99] Benitez, Vincent (April 2004). Aspects of Harmonyin Messiaens Later Music: An Examination of theChords of Transposed Inversions on the Same Bass Note.Journal of Musicological Research 23 (2): 187226.doi:10.1080/01411890490449781.

    [100] Bruhn, Siglind (2008). Traces of a Thomistic De musicain the Compositions of Olivier Messiaen. Logos 11 (4):1656.

    [101] For extensive discussion of the use of birdsong in Messi-aens work, see Kraft (2013).

    [102] See, for example, Richard Steinitz in Hill (1995), pp.466469

    [103] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 25

    [104] Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 120

    [105] Hill & Simeone (2005), pp. 199, outlines the chronologyof Messiaens compositions of 195152 Le merle noir andLivre d'orgue

    [106] Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 198

    [107] Messiaen: Un oiseau des arbres de Vie (Oiseau tui), BBC,7 August 2015

    5 References Bannister, Peter (2013). Olivier Messiaen (19081992)". In Anderson, Christopher S. Twentieth-century organ music. New York: Routledge. ISBN9781136497902.

    Benitez, Vincent P (2008). Olivier Messiaen: A Re-search and Information Guide. New York and Lon-don: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-97372-4.

    Bruhn, Siglind (2008). Messiaens Interpretations ofHoliness and Trinity. Echoes of Medieval Theol-ogy in the Oratorio, Organ Meditations, and Opera.Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press. ISBN 978-1-57647-139-5.

  • 13

    Dingle, Christopher (2007). The Life of Messiaen.Cambridge & New York: Cambridge UniversityPress. ISBN 0-521-63547-0.

    Dingle, Christopher (2013). Messiaens nal works.Burlington, VT: Ashgate. ISBN 9780754606338.

    Dingle, Christopher, & Nigel Simeone (eds) (2007).Olivier Messiaen: Music, Art and Literature. Alder-shot: Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-5297-1.

    Gillock, Jon (2009). Performing Messiaens OrganMusic: 66 Masterclasses. Bloomington, Indiana: In-diana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-35373-3.

    Griths, Paul (1985). Olivier Messiaen and the Mu-sic of Time. Ithaca, New York: Cornell UniversityPress. ISBN 0-8014-1813-5.

    Heller, Karin (2010). Olivier Messiaen and Car-dinal Jean-Marie Lustiger. In Shenton, Andrew.Messiaen the theologian. Farnham: Ashgate. ISBN9780754666400.

    Hill, Peter, ed. (1995). The Messiaen Companion.London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-17033-1.

    Hill, Peter, and Nigel Simeone (2005). Messiaen.New Haven and London: Yale University Press.ISBN 0-300-10907-5.

    Hill, Peter, and Nigel Simeone (eds) (2007). OlivierMessiaen: oiseaux exotiques. Aldershot: Ashgate.ISBN 9780754656302.

    Kraft, David (2013). Birdsong in the Music ofOlivier Messiaen. London: Arosa Press. ISBN 978-1477517796.

    Matossian, Nouritza (1986). Xenakis. London:Kahn and Averill. ISBN 1-871082-17-X.

    Pople, Anthony (1998). Messiaen: Quatuor pourla n du temps. Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress. ISBN 9780521585385.

    Rischin, Rebecca (2003). For the End of Time: TheStory of the Messiaen Quartet. Ithaca, N.Y.: CornellUniversity Press. ISBN 0-8014-4136-6.

    Samuel, Claude (tr. E. Thomas Glasow) (1994).Olivier Messiaen: Music and Color: Conversationswith Claude Samuel. Portland, Oregon: AmadeusPress. ISBN 0-931340-67-5.

    Shenton, Andrew (2008). Olivier Messiaens Systemof Signs: Notes towards Understanding his Music.Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-6168-9.

    Shenton, Andrew (2010). Messiaen the Theologian.Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-6640-0.

    Sherlaw Johnson, Robert (1975). Messiaen. Berke-ley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.ISBN 0-520-02812-0.

    Sherlaw Johnson, Robert (1989). Messiaen.Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN9780520067349.

    Simeone, Nigel (2009). "'Un oeuvre simple, solen-nelle...'". In Shenton, Andrew. Messiaen the theolo-gian. Farnham: Ashgate. ISBN 9780754666400.

    6 Further reading Baggech, Melody Ann (1998). An English Trans-lation of Olivier Messiaens Traite de Rythme, deCouleur, et d'Ornithologie. Norman: The Univer-sity of Oklahoma.

    Barker, Thomas (2012). The Social and Aes-thetic Situation of Olivier Messiaens Religious Mu-sic: Turangalla Symphonie. International Reviewof the Aesthetics and Sociology ofMusic 43/1:5370.

    Benitez, Vincent P. (2000). A Creative Legacy:Messiaen as Teacher of Analysis. College MusicSymposium 40 (2000): 11739. http://symposium.music.org/messiaen-as-teacher-of-analysis

    Benitez, Vincent P. (2001). Pitch Organizationand Dramatic Design in Saint Franois dAssise ofOlivier Messiaen. PhD diss., Bloomington: Indi-ana University.

    Benitez, Vincent P. (2002). Simultaneous Contrastand Additive Designs in Olivier Messiaens OperaSaint Franois dAssise. Music Theory Online 8.2(August 2002). http://mto.societymusictheory.org/

    Benitez, Vincent P. (2004). Aspects of Harmonyin Messiaens Later Music: An Examination of theChords of Transposed Inversions on the Same BassNote. Journal of Musicological Research 23, no. 2:187226.

    Benitez, Vincent P. (2004). Narrating Saint Fran-ciss Spiritual Journey: Referential Pitch Structuresand Symbolic Images in Olivier Messiaens SaintFranois d'Assise. In Poznan Studies on Opera,edited by Maciej Jablonski, 363411.

    Benitez, Vincent P. (2008). Messiaen as Impro-viser. Dutch Journal of Music Theory 13, no. 2(May 2008): 12944.

    Benitez, Vincent P. (2009). Reconsidering Mes-siaen as Serialist. Music Analysis 28, nos. 23(2009): 26799 (published April 21, 2011).

    Benitez, Vincent P. (2010). Messiaen andAquinas. InMessiaen the Theologian, edited by An-drew Shenton, 10126. Aldershot: Ashgate.

    Boivin, Jean (1993). La Classe de Messiaen: His-torique, reconstitution, impact. Ph.D. diss. Mon-treal: Ecole Polytechnique, Montreal.


    Boswell-Kurc, Lilise (2001). Olivier MessiaensReligious War-Time Works and Their Controver-sial Reception in France (19411946) ". Ph.D. diss.New York: New York University.

    Bruhn, Siglind (2007). Messiaens Contemplationsof Covenant and Incarnation: Musical Symbols ofFaith in the Two Great Piano Cycles of the 1940s.Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press. ISBN 978-1-57647-129-6.

    Cheong Wai-Ling (2003). Messiaens Chord Ta-bles: Ordering the Disordered. Tempo 57, no. 226(October): 210.

    Cheong Wai-Ling (2008). Neumes and GreekRhythms: The Breakthrough in Messiaens Bird-song. Acta Musicologica 80, no. 1:132.

    Dingle, Christopher (2013). Messiaens Fi-nal Works. Farnham, UK: Ashgate. ISBN9780754606338.

    Fallon, Robert Joseph (2005). Messiaens Mime-sis: The Language and Culture of The Bird Styles.Ph.D. diss. Berkeley: University of California,Berkeley.

    Fallon, Robert (2008). Birds, Beasts, and Bombsin Messiaens Cold War Mass. The Journal of Mu-sicology 26, no. 2 (Spring): 175204.

    Festa, Paul (2008). Oh My God: Messiaen in theEar of the Unbeliever. San Francisco: Bar NothingBooks.

    Gola, Antoine (1960). Rencontres avec OlivierMessiaen. Paris: Julliard.

    Hardink, Jason M. (2007). Messiaen and Plain-chant. D.M.A. diss. Houston: Rice University.

    Harris, Joseph Edward (2004). Musique coloree:Synesthetic Correspondence in theWorks of OlivierMessiaen. Ph.D. diss. Ames: The University ofIowa.

    Hill, Matthew Richard (1995). Messiaens Re-gard du silence as an Expression of Catholic Faith.D.M.A. diss. Madison: The University of Wiscon-sin, Madison.

    Laycock, Gary Eng Yeow (2010). Re-evaluatingOlivier Messiaens Musical Language from 1917 to1935. Ph.D. diss. Bloomington: Indiana Univer-sity, 2010.

    Luchese, Diane (1998). Olivier Messiaens SlowMusic: Glimpses of Eternity in Time. Ph.D. diss.Evanston: Northwestern University

    McGinnis, Margaret Elizabeth (2003). Playing theFields: Messiaen, Music, and the Extramusical.Ph.D. diss. Chapel Hill: The University of NorthCarolina at Chapel Hill.

    Nelson, David Lowell (1992). An Analysis ofOlivier Messiaens Chant Paraphrases. 2 vols.Ph.D. diss. Evanston: Northwestern University

    Ngim, Alan Gerald (1997). Olivier Messiaen as aPianist: A Study of Tempo and Rhythm Based onHis Recordings of Visions de l'amen". D.M.A. diss.Coral Gables: University of Miami.

    Peterson, Larry Wayne (1973). Messiaen andRhythm: Theory and Practice. Ph.D. diss. ChapelHill: The University of North Carolina at ChapelHill

    Puspita, Amelia (2008). The Inuence of Bali-nese Gamelan on the Music of Olivier Messiaen.D.M.A. diss. Cincinnati: University of Cincinnati

    Reverdy, Michle (1988). L'uvre pour orchestred'Olivier Messiaen. Paris: Alphonse Leduc. ISBN2-85689-038-5.

    Schultz, Rob (2008). Melodic Contour and Non-retrogradable Structure in the Birdsong of OlivierMessiaen. Music Theory Spectrum 30, no. 1(Spring): 89137.

    Shenton, Andrew David James (1998). The Un-spoken Word: Olivier Messiaens 'langage commu-nicable'". Ph.D. diss. Cambridge: Harvard Univer-sity.

    Sholl, Robert (2008). Messiaen Studies. Cambridge& New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN978-0-521-83981-5.

    Simeone, Nigel (2004). "'Chez Messiaen, tout estprire': Messiaens Appointment at the Trinit".The Musical Times 145, no. 1889 (Winter): 3653.

    Simeone, Nigel (2008). Messiaen, Koussevitzkyand the USA. The Musical Times 149, no. 1905(Winter): 2544.

    Waumsley, Stuart (1975). The Organ Music ofOlivier Messiaen (New ed.). Paris: Alphonse Leduc.OCLC 2911308; LCCN 77-457244.

    Welsh Ibanez, Deborah (2005). Color, Timbre, andResonance: Developments in Olivier MessiaensUse of Percussion Between 19561965. D.M.A.diss. Coral Gables: University of Miami

    Zheng, Zhong (2004). A Study of Messiaens SoloPianoWorks. Ph.D. diss. Hong Kong: The ChineseUniversity of Hong Kong.

  • 7.1 Listening 15

    6.1 Films

    Apparition of the Eternal Church Paul Festas2006 lm about responses of 31 artists toMessiaensmusic.

    Messiaen at 80 (1988). Directed by Sue Knussen.BFI database entry.

    Olivier Messiaen et les oiseaux (1973). Directed byMichel Fano and Denise Tual.

    Olivier Messiaen The Crystal Liturgy (2007 [DVDrelease date]). Directed by Olivier Mille.

    Olivier Messiaen: Works (1991). DVD on whichMessiaen performs Improvisations on the organ atthe Paris Trinity Church.

    The South Bank Show: Olivier Messiaen: The Mu-sic of Faith (1985). Directed by Alan Benson. BFIdatabase entry.

    7 External links

    BBC Messiaen Prole

    Online Messiaen resource by Malcolm Ball

    Infography about Olivier Messiaen

    oliviermessiaen.net, hosted by the Boston UniversityMessiaen Project [BUMP]. Includes detailed infor-mation on the composers life and works, events, andlinks to other Messiaen websites.

    www.philharmonia.co.uk/messiaen, the Philhar-monia Orchestras Messiaen website. The site con-tains articles, unseen images, programme notes andlms to go alongside the orchestras series of con-certs celebrating the Centenary of Olivier Messi-aens birth.

    David Schi, Music for the End of Time, The Na-tion, posted January 25, 2006 (February 13, 2006issue). Formally a review of Messiaen by Peter Hilland Nigel Simeone, but provides an overview ofMessiaens life and works.

    Music and the Holocaust Olivier Messiaen

    A biography on IRCAM's website (French)

    My Messiaen Modes A visual representation ofMessiaens modes of limited transposition

    7.1 Listening Thme et variations Helen Kim, violin; AdamBowles, piano Luna Nova New Music Ensemble

    Le merle noir John McMurtery, ute; AdamBowles, piano Luna Nova New Music Ensemble

    Quatuor pour la n du temps Luna Nova NewMu-sic Ensemble

    Regard de l'esprit de joie from Vingt regards..., TomPoster, pianist

    Birdsong in Messiaen on YouTube Example of Birdsong in Messiaen on YouTubeplayed on a Mhleisen pipe organ

    In-depth feature on Olivier Messiaen by RadioFrance Internationals English service

    Excerpts from sound archives of Messiaens works.


    8 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses8.1 Text

    Olivier Messiaen Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivier_Messiaen?oldid=712981446 Contributors: Zundark, Tarquin, Koyaa-nis Qatsi, Andre Engels, Deb, Camembert, Youandme, Flamurai, Tregoweth, Jimfbleak, Sir Paul, Kaihsu, PS4FA, Bemoeial, Viajero,Pladask, Tpbradbury, Hyacinth, Jmabel, Romanm, Andrew Levine, Tanuki Z, JackofOz, Snader, Tsavage, Davidcannon, Snobot, Crcul-ver, Cobaltbluetony, Anville, Henry Flower, Alfa, Ferdinand Pienaar, Bobblewik, Andycjp, DavidBrooks, SarekOfVulcan, Antandrus,Karol Langner, The Land, D6, Mindspillage, A-giau, Discospinster, Xezbeth, Bender235, ESkog, Kwamikagami, Pinners, Jashiin, Small-jim, LuoShengli, Schissel, Alansohn, Gintautasm, Pwiener, Craigy144, Ksnow, Suruena, Angr, Woohookitty, ^demon, Zzyzx11, Noetica,Emerson7, Graham87, Kbdank71, Avram, Rjwilmsi, Wahoove, Jake Wartenberg, Gryndor, Carl Logan, Missmarple, Lockley, Pabix,Ligulem, Brighterorange, TBHecht, Hermione1980, FlaBot, RobertG, Gparker, Pinkville, Gareth E. Kegg, Chobot, DTOx, Korg, Gw-ernol, Carimcaskill, Epolk, Gaius Cornelius, Nicke L, MarcK, Badagnani, Welsh, Yahya Abdal-Aziz, Journalist, Tony1, Bota47, GlennMagus Harvey, Shadowblade, Homagetocatalonia, Ninly, Nikkimaria, KGasso, Josh3580, Stevouk, Adso de Fimnu, That Guy, FromThat Show!, Attilios, SmackBot, MattieTK, Johnrcrellin, AndyZ, Pandion auk, Ohnoitsjamie, Ckerr, Bluebot, Kleinzach, Timneu22,Eusebeus, Countersubject, Evgeny Lykhin, Grover cleveland, Makemi, A J Hay, Rob~enwiki, Jon Awbrey, Pkeets, Ceoil, Ohconfu-cius, Cor anglais 16, Ser Amantio di Nicolao, MegA, JzG, Rizzlebon, Voceditenore, Kyoko, Jamesellis, Egnever, Violncello, Van-ished user, Joseph Solis in Australia, Patriciagray1794, Igoldste, Courcelles, Tawkerbot2, ShelfSkewed, Tex, Cydebot, Grahamec, RaoulNK, Barticus88, JustAGal, Edhubbard, BigNorwich, RobotG, Shirt58, Roundhouse0, Rsocol, LibLord, GyspyScreamOut, Kaini, Cobeer,Sluzzelin, East718, Rothorpe, Geniac, Bencherlite, A4, Jerome Kohl, Mouchoir le Souris, Cgingold, Rickard Vogelberg, Clavecin, Jerryteps, CommonsDelinker, Lilac Soul, J.delanoy, Tadam, Mind meal, Btouburg, Trombipulation!, HOUZI, Ipigott, Jamesaellis, TheScotch,FJPB, ArgoBertrand, Treisijs, Hugo999, Roaring phoenix, Middlepedal, VolkovBot, HFJ, WarddrBOT, Martinevans123, TXiKiBoT, Rei-bot, Yogicat, Mimich, Rastrojo, Paulfesta, Tomaxer, Softlavender, Turangalila, Cantuscoptus, MuzikJunky, Ferstel, WereSpielChequers,Leejasonc, Gerakibot, Karaboom, Buddypoop, Pachon, Monegasque, Redmarkviolinist, Utorak-sedamdeset, Chrisdingle, Addaick, Stfg,Lbaich, Dabomb87, Ncchuckholton, RobertG II, ClueBot, The Thing That Should Not Be, Bump luke, Henkelstone, Bellperc, TheOldJa-cobite, Boing! said Zebedee, CohesionBot, Feline Hymnic, Sun Creator, Busonischolar, MrTsunami, Soranyn, SchreiberBike, Agnostizi,Thingg, Versus22, David enek, Orlov Herne~enwiki, Avoided, Spud88, RoverRexSpot, RichLow, XD ello, Addbot, Benn, LinkFA-Bot,Jello12, Cote d'Azur, Luckas-bot, Yobot, EchetusXe, Themfromspace, Amirobot, Pem440, IRP, Galoubet, Daniel.nnan, Materialscientist,RobertEves92, A123a, Citation bot, ArthurBot, AKappa, Obersachsebot, Capricorn42, Davshul, Karljoos, Petropoxy (Lithoderm Proxy),Tergum violinae, Someguy1200, Joepat12, Omnipaedista, Jezhotwells, DutchmanInDisguise, RibotBOT, FrescoBot, LeMiklos, Rigaudon,Atlantia, Citation bot 1, Artouge, Bheuninckx, RedBot, Gerda Arendt, Elekhh, Deskford, P100jboo, RjwilmsiBot, Messiaenman, Abfall-Reiniger, 4meter4, Moswento, Outriggr, MH1987, Danmuz, Xanchester, ClueBot NG, Accelerometer, Cc21002, Patriciathornton, Jacey-mon05, Furor Teutonicus, BG19bot, Chrysalifourfour, Toccata quarta, 14jbella, Marosc9, Dexbot, Mogism, JimVardakis, VIAFbot, DGG(NYPL), Euligulam, Whirlwind780, Monkbot, Eman235, Necronomitom, Mon-el-30, KasparBot, Zeke201 and Anonymous: 213

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  • 8.3 Content license 17

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    8.3 Content license Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

    BiographyYouth and studiesLa Trinit, La jeune France, and Messiaens warTristan and serialismBirdsong and the 1960sTransfiguration, Canyons, St. Francis, and the Beyond

    MusicWestern artistic influencesColourSymmetryTimePitch

    Time and rhythmHarmonyBirdsongSerialism

    WorksCompositionsPublishedUnpublished, posthumously published, or lost


    NotesReferencesFurther readingFilms

    External linksListening

    Text and image sources, contributors, and licensesTextImagesContent license