Instruments | Styles | Artists | Members | Forums |
      Subscribe Register Login 
Olivier Messiaen biography 
 

Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen Biography


Olivier Messiaen (December 10, 1908–April 27, 1992) was a French composer, organist, and ornithologist.

Biography

Messiaen was born in Avignon into a literary family: his mother was the poet Cécile Sauvage, while his father was a translator who worked on an edition of Shakespeare in French. He began composing at a young age, and at the age of eleven, entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he had a traditional music education under Marcel Dupré and Paul Dukas among others.

He secured a post as organist of La Sainte Trinité church, Paris, in 1930. He retained this position into his eighties, and the music he composed for the organ throughout his life was informed by his interest in theological subjects.

In 1939, with the outbreak of World War II, he was called up for military service. He was captured by the Germans, and in 1941 wrote one of his most famous pieces, the Quatuor pour la fin du temps as a prisoner of war.

Later the same year, he was released, and in 1942 took up a post as professor of harmony at the Paris Conservatoire (he became composition professor in 1966). He also gave informal lessons to young avant garde composers, including Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. It was through these that he met his second wife, Yvonne Loriod, who was to become a champion of his work as a pianist.

He went on to teach in many places abroad, including in the summer school courses at Darmstadt.

Music

Messiaen's musical style is typically a mix of extended, but essentially tonal, harmony with often complex rhythms and structures. He frequently used what he termed modes of limited transposition, which he formulated in conjunction with a mathematician friend, and are not related to church modes. He was also interested in medieval and Indian rhythms. During the early 1950s, he became interested in dodecaphony, and is considered to be a pioneer in the field of serialism, a method to which he introduced his pupil Pierre Boulez. His music is rife with a variety of idiosyncratic sound-structures that he dubbed 'special chords' (accords speciaux). His sheet music sometimes contains indications of particular colors; Messiaen experienced a condition known as synaesthesia that caused him to see colors whenever he heard music.

Many of Messiaen's works are concerned with the Roman Catholic faith (for example Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus), but he also drew inspiration from Hinduism; his Turangalîla Symphony takes its name from two Sanskrit words with manifold meanings, including 'time', 'play' and 'love song'.

Messiaen was also influenced by bird song, often walking in the woods with manuscript paper and transcribing the songs he heard. His books of piano pieces, Catalogue d'oiseaux, and his orchestral work, Oiseaux exotiques, are both based on bird song. All of his works composed after 1955 include fragments of birdsong.

Messiaen was a pioneer in the use of new instrumental forces. His works introduced the Gamelan-like sound of a large tuned percussion section into European music. He was also a champion of the Ondes Martenot, of which his sister-in-law, Jeanne Loriod, was a leading exponent.



This biography is published under the GNU Licence






Items to buy by Olivier Messiaen



Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps - Quartet For The End of Time "(Score And Parts). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For clarinet, violin, cello and piano. Editions Durand. 20th Century. Difficulty: medium-difficult. Set of performance parts (includes separate pull out parts for clarinet, violin, and cello). Full scor

...more info



Quatuor pour la fin du Temps "(Quartet for the End of Time). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For mixed quartet (violin, clarinet, cello and piano) (Score). Editions Durand. 20th Century. Difficulty: difficult. Miniature score. Full score notation and introductory text. 52 pages. Edi

...more info



Preludes pour piano (Piano Solo). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For solo piano. Editions Durand. 20th Century. SMP Level 10 (Advanced). Collection. Standard notation (does not include words to the songs). 55 pages. Editions Durand #DF1184300. Published by Editions Durand

...more info



Banquet Celeste (Orgue). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For organ. Published by Alphonse Leduc

...more info



Rain Tree Sketch II (In memoriam Olivier Messiaen - for Piano). By Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996). Schott. 8 pages. Schott Music #SJ01072. Published by Schott Music

...more info



O Sacrum Convivium (O Sacred and Holy Feast) "(SATB a cappella). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For SATB choir (a cappella - Soprano, Contralto, Tenor, Bass) and organ (ad libitum) (SATB A Cappella). Editions Durand. Text in Latin. With optional Organ (ad libitum). Choral. 20th Century. Difficulty

...more info



Nativite du Seigneur (Volume 4: (Meditation 9) Orgue). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For organ. This edition: Volume 4. Published by Alphonse Leduc

...more info



Theme et Variations (Violon et Piano). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For violin and piano. Published by Alphonse Leduc

...more info



20 Regards sur l'Enfant-Jí©sus (Piano Solo). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). Editions Durand. SMP Level 10 (Advanced). 188 pages. Editions Durand #DF1323000. Published by Editions Durand

...more info



Apparition de d'Eglise Eternelle "By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For Organ. Original Works. 20th Century, French. Score. Composed 1931. Published by Masters Music Publications Inc."

...more info



Merle No. ir (Flute et Piano). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For flute and piano. Score and part. Published by Alphonse Leduc

...more info



Oliver Messiaen in Thirteen Pieces for Piano (The Best of Olivier Messiaen). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). Editions Durand. Advanced. Softcover. 57 pages. Editions Durand #DF1583800. Published by Editions Durand

...more info



Nativite du Seigneur (Volume 1: (Meditations 1 et 2) Orgue). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For organ. This edition: Volume 1. Published by Alphonse Leduc

...more info



Ascension (Orgue). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For organ. Published by Alphonse Leduc

...more info



Turangalí¬la Symphonie (Version 1990) "(Pocket Score). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For Piano solo, Ondes Martenot solo and orchestra (Score). Editions Durand. 448 pages. Editions Durand #DF1454200. Published by Editions Durand"

...more info



Fantaisie (Violin and Piano). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). Editions Durand. 32 pages. Editions Durand #DF1572600. Published by Editions Durand

...more info



Poemes Pour Mi Vol1 Voice/piano By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). Editions Durand. 16 pages. Editions Durand #DF1272900. Published by Editions Durand

...more info



Nativite du Seigneur (Volume 2: (Meditations 4 et 5) Orgue). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For organ. This edition: Volume 2. Published by Alphonse Leduc

...more info



3 Mí©lodies (Voice and Piano). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). Editions Durand. 12 pages. Editions Durand #DF1194300. Published by Editions Durand

...more info



Catalogue D'Oiseaux Vol. ume 1 (1: Chocard Des Alpes/2: Loriot/3: Merle Bleu Piano). By Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For piano. Published by Alphonse Leduc

...more info



Search for other pieces by Olivier Messiaen by entering text in the box below:





 




8notes in other languages:              


 
© 2000-2014 8notes.com