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Olivier Messiaen


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(1908 – 1992)

Olivier Messiaen (December 10, 1908 – April 27, 1992) was a French composer, organist, and ornithologist. Messiaen’s music is rhythmically complex (he was interested in rhythms from ancient Greece and from Hindu sources), and is harmonically and melodically based on modes of limited transposition, which were Messiaen’s own innovation. Many of his compositions depict what he termed “the marvellous aspects of the faith”, drawing on his unshakeable Roman Catholicism. He travelled widely, and he wrote works inspired by such diverse influences as Japanese music, the landscape of Bryce Canyon in Utah, and the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Messiaen experienced a mild form of synaesthesia manifested as a perception of colours when he heard certain harmonies. For a short period Messiaen experimented with “total serialism”, in which field he is often cited as an innovator. His style absorbed many exotic musical influences such as Indonesian gamelan (tuned percussion often features prominently in his orchestral works), and he also championed the ondes Martenot.

Messiaen found birdsong fascinating; he believed birds to be the greatest musicians and considered himself as much an ornithologist as a composer. He notated birdsongs worldwide, and he incorporated birdsong transcriptions into a majority of his music. His innovative use of colour, his personal conception of the relationship between time and music, his use of birdsong, and his intent to express profound religious ideas, all combine to make it almost impossible to mistake a composition by Messiaen for the work of any other Western classical composer.


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  • archon_sound

    The best Catholic besides Saint Peter himself.

    25 Jul 4:11am Reply
  • Ntagfoo

    Interesting preludes; I'll seriously have to check more of his stuff out now.

    25 Jun 1:50pm Reply
  • MonarchKingdom

    Well... I didn't like him much. I cannot say I like him even now. But his music somehow started to grow on me.

    10 Apr 4:45pm Reply
  • sodr2

    I0000days how come you dont talk to me

    19 Mar 4:20am Reply
  • I0000days

    Downloading Vingt Regards sur l'enfant-Jesus alone raised my IQ by 12% ))) so it was between this shout and what I would consider the most beautiful shout in history of - I am happy with the choice I made(((

    15 Mar 9:51pm Reply
  • str8slammin

    had to learn how to really listen, but the biggest problem was a lack of patience, i think.

    14 Mar 11:03am Reply
  • REDvv

    @str8slammin: What exactly you think was the problem with you?

    25 Feb 10:03pm Reply
  • str8slammin

    a couple of years ago i couldnt stand this shit, but now i see the problem was with me.. and not with the music. messiaen was a sublime composer and his music is beautiful. i especially enjoy the quartet for the end of time.

    22 Feb 2:50pm Reply
  • PP667


    17 Jan 7:51am Reply
  • REDvv

    He could even infect the listener with his sound-colour synaesthesia.

    28 Jul 2014 Reply
  • Evisceratorium

    ">come to brazil the dude died 22 years ago..." you're new around here aren't you

    9 May 2014 Reply
  • HaHaHaYoureDead

    гений, его наследие - одно из основных в музыке ХХ века вообще.

    19 Mar 2014 Reply
  • Aeroaviones

    Anyone else see the main pic and think he's shouting "CAN YOU DIG IT?!?" to all the music gangs

    4 Mar 2014 Reply
  • edubbwitthevdub

    >come to brazil the dude died 22 years ago...

    26 Feb 2014 Reply
  • dylansko

    come to brazil

    19 Nov 2013 Reply
  • pleaserepent

    subscribed :)

    21 Oct 2013 Reply
  • I0000days

    "I'm a believer, so I sing words of God to those who have no faith. I give bird songs to those who dwell in cities and have never heard them, make rhythms for those who know only military marches or jazz, and paint colors for those who see none."

    20 Oct 2013 Reply
  • bantha_fodder_


    4 May 2013 Reply
  • Aserikoth

    "nichtsein000 So emotionally neutral... " What? Have you even listened to his organ works?

    15 Apr 2013 Reply
  • ji_jimenez

    Vingt Regards? I got the Aimard version -that I like

    21 Feb 2013 Reply
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