Related Content

Related Overviews

Paul Dukas (1865—1935)

 

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Music

GO

Show Summary Details

Overview

Olivier Messiaen

(1908—1992) French composer


Quick Reference

(b Avignon, 1908; d Clichy, Hauts‐de‐Seine, 1992).

Fr. composer, organist, and teacher. In his youth he studied Indian and Greek mus. rhythms, plainchant, and folk mus. He also notated the songs of all French birds, classifying them by region. Several of his works quote and make great use of birdsong. In 1931 he became organist of L'Église de la Trinité, Paris, holding the post for over 40 years. In 1936 he became a teacher at the École Normale de Musique and Schola Cantorum, and founded Jeune France, a group of young musicians, with Jolivet, Daniel Lesur, and Baudrier. He was imprisoned by the Germans for 2 years during the war, but on release, 1942, he was appointed a teacher at Paris Cons. (harmony, then analysis from 1947 and comp. from 1966). His pupils incl. Boulez, Stockhausen, Barraqué, Xenakis, Amy, Sherlaw Johnson, and Goehr. His 2nd wife, the pianist Yvonne Loriod, exercised great influence on his work.

Messiaen's mus., which is among the most influential and idiosyncratic of the century, was compounded from his deep Catholic faith, his celebration of human love, and his love of nature. He gave a new dimension of colour and intensity to org. mus., making special use of acoustic reverberations and contrasts of timbres. His harmony, rich and chromatic, derived from Debussy's use of 7ths and 9ths and modal progressions of chords. In his orch. works he made use of the ondes Martenot in the vast Turangalîla‐symphonie and of exotic perc. instrs., giving an oriental effect. Birdsong was also a major feature. His treatment of rhythm was novel, involving irregular metres, some of them originating in ancient Gr. procedures. Messiaen also acknowledged the supremacy of melody. Prin. works:

opera:

Saint François d'Assise

(lib. by comp., f.p. Paris 1983) (1975–83).

orch.:

Le Banquet eucharistique

(1928);

Les Offrandes oubliées

(1930);

Le tombeau resplendissant

(1931);

Hymne au Saint Sacrement

(1932);

L'Ascension

(1933);

Turangalîla‐symphonie

(1946–8);

Réveil des oiseaux

(1953);

Oiseaux exotiques

(1955–6);

Chronochromie

(1960);

7 Hai‐Kai

(1962);

Couleurs de la cité céleste

(1963);

Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum

(1964);

Des canyons aux Étoiles

(1970–4);

Un vitrail et des oiseaux

(1986);

La ville d'en haut

(1987);

Éclairs sur l'au‐delà

(1988–92);

Un sourire

(1989).

vocal & choral:

2 Ballades de Villon

, v., pf. (1921);

3 Mélodies

, sop., pf. (1929);

La mort du nombre

(1929);

Mass

, 8 sop., 4 vn. (1933);

Vocalise

, sop., pf. (1935);

Poèmes pour Mi

, sop., pf. (1936), orch. (1937);

O sacrum convivium

(1937);

Chants de terre et de ciel

(1938);

3 Petites Liturgies de la présence divine

, women's ch., pf., ondes Martenot, orch. (1944);

Chants des Déportés

, sop., ten., ch., orch. (1945);

Harawi, chant d'amour et de mort

, sop., pf. (1945);

5 Rechants

, 12 unacc. vv. (1948);

La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus‐Christ

, ten., bar., ch., pf., orch. (1965–9).

piano:

8 Préludes

(1929);

Fantaisie burlesque

(1931);

Pièce pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas

(1936);

Visions de l'Amen

, 2 pf. (1943);

Rondeau

(1943);

20 Regards sur l'Enfant Jésus

(1944);

Cantéyodjayâ

[...]

Subjects: Music


Reference entries