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Olivier Messiaen

Duration: 1:02:19

Donald Macleod and biographer Nigel Simeone discover the life and work of French composer and organist Olivier Messiaen.

Donald Macleod and biographer Nigel Simeone explore Messiaen's life and work, focusing on the early influences on the composer, including the volume of poetry his mother wrote while she was pregnant with him and the joys of family life.

Macleod and guest Nigel Simeone then turn to look at aspects of the composer's life and career in Paris, from the boy entering the Paris Conservatoire aged ten to his activities as professor of composition there, his role as godfather to the avant-garde during the 1950s and his duties as organist at the church of La Trinite over the course of more than five decades.

They then explore the works making up Messiaen's Tristan trilogy, including his Turangalila-symphonie, and his gifted student Yvonne Loriod's increasing importance to him in the 1950s.

Messiaen considered birds to be the greatest composers, and himself to be an ornithologist as much as a composer. Landscapes were also a constant inspiration to him. Macleod and Simeone discuss the presence of nature in Messiaen's music.

The discussion concludes with an exploration of Messiaen's final works, written after he had completed what he thought would be his final work - his huge opera based on the life of St Francis of Assisi.

Available since: Tue 8 Mar 2011

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Olivier Messiaen

Donald Macleod and biographer Nigel Simeone explore the live and work of Olivier Messiaen

Image for Olivier Messiaen

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