Olivier Messiaen

Born 10 December 1908. Died 27 April 1992
Olivier Messiaen
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1908-12-10
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/c6e5c5f4-984e-432a-87b8-b6afa288bca1
Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen Biography (BBC)

Messiaen was born in Avignon; his father taught English, his mother was a poet. During the First World War the family moved to Grenoble in the French Alps – a landscape to which Messiaen would constantly return throughout his life in order to compose. The other constant in his life was a deep Catholic faith, which he found early and which never left him.

In 1919 Messiaen entered the Paris Conservatoire, where his teachers included Marcel Dupré (organ and improvisation) and Paul Dukas (composition). There he discovered the key elements of his composing technique: Indian rhythmic cycles, and ‘modes of limited transposition’ (exotic scales constructed differently from the traditional Western major and minor ones). Le banquet céleste (1928) for organ, a set of piano Préludes (1928–9) and the orchestral Les offrandes oubliées (1930) already show the trademark features of Messiaen’s mature style: slow meditation in richly refracted chord-sequences (as an image of eternity); bounding dances of despair or joy; and irregular, objectively unfolding rhythmic sequences (another image of timelessness in musical time).

In 1931 Messiaen was appointed organist at the church of La Trinité in Paris, a post he held until his death. Major statements from this period were La Nativité du Seigneur (1935) and Les corps glorieux (1939) for organ, and the song-cycles Poèmes pour Mi (1936) and Chants de terre et de ciel (1938). When the Second World War broke out, Messiaen was called up as a medical orderly, captured, and sent to a prison camp in Germany. There he met up with a violinist, a cellist and a clarinettist, for whom he wrote the Quatuor pour la fin du temps (1940–41). The premiere took place, in freezing conditions and with the composer playing a decrepit upright piano, before an audience of fellow-prisoners in Stalag VIIIA.

Repatriated to France, Messiaen taught at the Paris Conservatoire, where his pupils included Yvonne Loriod, his future second wife. Her dazzling pianism helped to inspire the cascade of works that followed – among them Visions de l’Amen (1943) for two pianos, the solo piano cycle Vingt regards sur l’Enfant- Jésus (1944) and the Turangalîla-Symphonie (1946–8) for large orchestra, piano and ondes martenot. Stimulating contact with the European avant-garde engendered more piano and organ music (notably Livre d’orgue, 1951) and the orchestral Chronochromie (1959–60). And Messiaen’s love of birdsong – for him, a symbol of the resurrected soul in flight – flowered in the piano cycle Catalogue d’oiseaux (1956–8).

Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum (1964) for wind and percussion introduced a monumental, apocalyptic element that pointed towards Messiaen’s later works. These included huge, multi-faceted proclamations of his faith that drew together every aspect of his style: the choral and orchestral La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ (1965–9); Des canyons aux étoiles … (1971–4) for piano, horn, xylorimba, glockenspiel and chamber orchestra; an immense opera-as-fresco, Saint Francis of Assisi (1975–83); and the orchestral cycle Éclairs sur l’Au-delà … (1988–92).

Profile © Malcolm Hayes

Olivier Messiaen Biography (Wikipedia)

Olivier Eugène Prosper Charles Messiaen (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; harmonically and melodically he employs a system he called modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from the systems of material generated by his early compositions and improvisations. He wrote music for chamber ensembles and orchestra, vocal music, as well as for solo organ and piano, and also experimented with the use of novel electronic instruments developed in Europe during his lifetime.

He travelled widely and wrote works inspired by diverse influences ranging from 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 often cited as an innovator. His style absorbed many global musical influences such as Indonesian gamelan (tuned percussion often features prominently in his orchestral works).

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Olivier Messiaen Tracks

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Olivier Messiaen
Louange a l'Eternite de Jesus from Quartet for the End of Time
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Louange a l'Eternite de Jesus from Quartet for the End of Time
Olivier Messiaen
Quatuor pour la fin du Temps – VII. Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps
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Quatuor pour la fin du Temps – VII. Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps

Quatuor pour la fin du Temps – VII. Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps

Performer
Yvonne Loriod (piano), Christoph Poppen (violin), Manuel Fischer-Dieskau (cello), Wolfgang Meyer (clarinet)
Olivier Messiaen
Quartet for the End of Time (Praise to the immortality of Jesus)
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Quartet for the End of Time (Praise to the immortality of Jesus)
Olivier Messiaen
Turangalîla Symphony
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Turangalîla Symphony
Olivier Messiaen
Quartet for the end of time - VIII Louange a l'immortalite de Jesus
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Quartet for the end of time - VIII Louange a l'immortalite de Jesus
Olivier Messiaen
O sacrum convivium
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O sacrum convivium
Olivier Messiaen
Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus (Quartet for the End of Time)
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Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus (Quartet for the End of Time)
Olivier Messiaen
L'Alouette calandrelle
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L'Alouette calandrelle
Olivier Messiaen
Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus (No.5, Quatuor pour la fin du temps)
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Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus (No.5, Quatuor pour la fin du temps)
Olivier Messiaen
Abîme des oiseaux (Quatuor pour la fin du temps)
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Abîme des oiseaux (Quatuor pour la fin du temps)
Olivier Messiaen
O sacrum convivium
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O sacrum convivium
Olivier Messiaen
Quartet for the End of Time: Vocalise pour l’ange qui announce la fin du temps
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Quartet for the End of Time: Vocalise pour l’ange qui announce la fin du temps
Olivier Messiaen
Quartet for the end of time
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Quartet for the end of time
Olivier Messiaen
Quatuor pour la fin du temps: Louange a l'immortalite de Jesus
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Quatuor pour la fin du temps: Louange a l'immortalite de Jesus
Olivier Messiaen
Transports de joie (L'Ascension)
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Transports de joie (L'Ascension)
Olivier Messiaen
Des canyons aux etoiles – Les Orioles
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Des canyons aux etoiles – Les Orioles
Olivier Messiaen
Rondeau
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Rondeau
Olivier Messiaen
Vingt Regards sur l'enfant Jesus - No.9 Regard du temps
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Vingt Regards sur l'enfant Jesus - No.9 Regard du temps
Olivier Messiaen
Visions de L'Amen
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Visions de L'Amen
Olivier Messiaen
Le Loriot [Golden Oriole] (No.2 of Catalogue d'Oiseaux)
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Le Loriot [Golden Oriole] (No.2 of Catalogue d'Oiseaux)
Olivier Messiaen
L'alouette lulu
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L'alouette lulu
Olivier Messiaen
Le Loriot
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Le Loriot
Olivier Messiaen
Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum
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Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum
Olivier Messiaen
L'Ascension: III. Alleluia sur la trompette
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L'Ascension: III. Alleluia sur la trompette
Olivier Messiaen
Turangalila-Symphonie
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Turangalila-Symphonie
Olivier Messiaen
Turangalîla Symphony
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Turangalîla Symphony
Olivier Messiaen
Turangalila (Finale)
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Turangalila (Finale)
Olivier Messiaen
Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum v: And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude.
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Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum v: And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude.
Olivier Messiaen
Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum iii: The hour is coming, and now is,when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God
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Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum iii: The hour is coming, and now is,when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God
Olivier Messiaen
Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum ii: Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
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Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum ii: Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Olivier Messiaen
Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum i: Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord hear my voice.
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Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum i: Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord hear my voice.
Olivier Messiaen
Trois petites Liturgies de la Presence Divine - 2nd movement
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Trois petites Liturgies de la Presence Divine - 2nd movement
Olivier Messiaen
Preludes: Plainte Calme (Calm Paint)
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Preludes: Plainte Calme (Calm Paint)
Olivier Messiaen
Le merle noir
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Le merle noir
Olivier Messiaen
Catalogue d'Oiseaux 1/42 no. 8: L'Alouette Calandrelle
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Catalogue d'Oiseaux 1/42 no. 8: L'Alouette Calandrelle
Olivier Messiaen
Quartet for the End of Time (2nd mvt: Abyss of the birds)
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Quartet for the End of Time (2nd mvt: Abyss of the birds)
Olivier Messiaen
Joie et clarte des corps glorieux (Les corps glorieux)
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Joie et clarte des corps glorieux (Les corps glorieux)
Olivier Messiaen
Le rouge gorge (Petites esquisses d'oiseaux)
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Le rouge gorge (Petites esquisses d'oiseaux)
Olivier Messiaen
Le Tombeau resplendissant
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Le Tombeau resplendissant
Olivier Messiaen
La Nativite de Seigneur IX Dieu parmi nous
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La Nativite de Seigneur IX Dieu parmi nous
Olivier Messiaen
Tarangalila Symphony: Finale
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Tarangalila Symphony: Finale
Olivier Messiaen
Organ Voluntary: Transport de Joie
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Organ Voluntary: Transport de Joie
Olivier Messiaen
Le désert (Des canyons aux étoiles)
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Le désert (Des canyons aux étoiles)
Olivier Messiaen
Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum
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Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum
Olivier Messiaen
Des canyons aux étoiles - No 2: The Orioles
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Des canyons aux étoiles - No 2: The Orioles
Olivier Messiaen
no.18 Regard de l'Onction terrible from Vingt Regards sur l'enfant Jesus
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no.18 Regard de l'Onction terrible from Vingt Regards sur l'enfant Jesus
Olivier Messiaen
Des canyons aux étoiles - No 5: Cedar Breaks and the Gift of Awe
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Des canyons aux étoiles - No 5: Cedar Breaks and the Gift of Awe
Olivier Messiaen
Quartet for the end of time - 5th Movement - Louange a l'eternite de Jesus
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Quartet for the end of time - 5th Movement - Louange a l'eternite de Jesus
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