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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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  • REDvv

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

    28 Jul 4:11pm Reply
  • Evisceratorium

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

    9 May 6:06am Reply
  • HaHaHaYoureDead

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

    19 Mar 1:19pm Reply
  • Aeroaviones

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

    4 Mar 5:13pm Reply
  • edubbwitthevdub

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

    26 Feb 4:04pm 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
  • mahleria

    Ozawa's classic '68 Turangalîla still rules them all.

    20 Feb 2013 Reply
  • CypheroN

    I've always liked this version.

    3 Feb 2013 Reply
  • Metal_Ganon

    Which version of Vingt regards should I get?

    27 Jan 2013 Reply
  • ji_jimenez

    Vingt Regards is excellent. Although Eclairs sur l'au delá can be very arresting even in a first listening

    28 Sep 2012 Reply
  • PsychoLold

    La nativité du Seigneur is so fascinating. I also remember one piece of him being played "in" the piano, picking the strings. If anyone knows what its name is, please let me know.

    12 Jul 2012 Reply
  • CypheroN

    "Quatuor pour la fin du temps" (Quartet for the End of Time), then "Vingt regards sur l'enfant-Jésus" should be okay.

    8 Jul 2012 Reply
  • tim4tw

    Where to start?

    7 Jul 2012 Reply
  • Seavas

    Emotionally neutral? Nah this is 100% exalted orgiastic brothel music

    25 May 2012 Reply
  • bit188


    29 Apr 2012 Reply
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