Messiaens growth in the past decade as an international figure in mid-Twentieth-Century music has demanded attention from various artistic quarters. As a contemporary musician of stature, M. Messiaen should find a ready audience for his comments on any aspect of the current musical scene, particularly on those aspects which most affect his own production. Tolerance and appreciation of any given music are always enhanced by a microcosmic approach to an understanding of the technical procedures involved. In this relatively brief book, the composer has laid out for properly equipped readers a clear outline of certain principles of construction he has employed in composition. Made aware of these principles, the listener brings to the music a more meaningful receptiveness.
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Messiaen later said this sequence of poems influenced him deeply and he cited it as prophetic of his future artistic career. There Messiaen became fascinated with drama, reciting Shakespeare to his brother with the help of a home-made toy theatre with translucent backdrops made from old cellophane wrappers. His interest included the recent music of French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel , and he asked for opera vocal scores for Christmas presents.
In his father returned from the war and the family moved to Nantes. Messiaen entered the Paris Conservatoire in , aged Messiaen sits at the far right; Dukas stands at the centre. At the Conservatoire, Messiaen made excellent academic progress. In , aged 15, he was awarded second prize in harmony , having been taught in that subject by professor Jean Gallon.
In he won first prize in piano accompaniment , and in he gained first prize in fugue. After studying with Maurice Emmanuel, he was awarded second prize for the history of music in That year he first heard a gamelan group, sparking his interest in the use of tuned percussion. His formal application included a letter of recommendation from Widor.
The appointment was confirmed in ,  and he remained the organist at the church for more than sixty years. She spent the rest of her life in mental institutions. Due to poor eyesight, he was enlisted as a medical auxiliary rather than an active combatant. He met a violinist, a cellist and a clarinettist among his fellow prisoners. He wrote a trio for them, which he gradually incorporated into his Quatuor pour la fin du temps "Quartet for the End of Time". The Quartet was first performed in January to an audience of prisoners and prison guards, with the composer playing a poorly maintained upright piano in freezing conditions.
The second of these works about human as opposed to divine love was the result of a commission from Serge Koussevitzky. Messiaen stated that the commission did not specify the length of the work or the size of the orchestra. It is not a conventional symphony , but rather an extended meditation on the joy of human union and love.
In he taught and performed with Loriod for two weeks in Budapest. It had a large influence on the earliest European serial composers, including Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
The latter piece was the result of a commission for a composition for three trombones and three xylophones ; Messiaen added to this more brass, wind, percussion and piano, and specified a xylophone, xylorimba and marimba rather than three xylophones. The composition occupied him from to and the musicians employed include a voice ten-part choir, seven solo instruments and large orchestra.
The composition was intensive he also wrote his own libretto and occupied him from to ; the orchestration was carried out from until It was first performed in Some commentators at the time thought that the opera would be his valediction at times Messiaen himself believed so ,  but he continued to compose. In he published a major collection of organ pieces, Livre du Saint Sacrement; other works include birdsong pieces for solo piano, and works for piano with orchestra.
He died in Paris on April 27, Four of the five intended movements were substantially complete; Yvonne Loriod undertook the orchestration of the second half of the first movement and of the whole of the fourth with advice from George Benjamin.
It was premiered by the dedicatees in September This is partly due to the symmetries of his technique—for instance the modes of limited transposition do not admit the conventional cadences found in western classical music. A page from Oiseaux exotiques. His youthful love for the fairy-tale element in Shakespeare prefigured his later expressions of Catholic liturgy. However, very few of these major works lack new technical ideas—simple examples being the introduction of communicable language in Meditations, the invention of a new percussion instrument the geophone for Des canyons aux etoiles Thus Messiaen maintained that a musical composition must be measured against three separate criteria: it must be interesting, beautiful to listen to, and it must touch the listener.
Messiaen said, "I am able to allow myself the greatest eccentricities because to her anything is possible. Messiaen rarely used the whole-tone scale in his compositions because, he said, after Debussy and Dukas there was "nothing to add",  but the modes he did use are all similarly symmetrical. Messiaen had a great admiration for the music of Igor Stravinsky , particularly the use of rhythm in earlier works such as The Rite of Spring , and his use of orchestral colour. He was further influenced by the orchestral brilliance of Heitor Villa-Lobos , who lived in Paris in the s and gave acclaimed concerts there.
He believed that terms such as " tonal ", " modal " and "serial" are misleading analytical conveniences. His descriptions range from the simple "gold and brown" to the highly detailed "blue-violet rocks, speckled with little grey cubes, cobalt blue, deep Prussian blue, highlighted by a bit of violet-purple, gold, red, ruby, and stars of mauve, black and white. Blue-violet is dominant".
Olivier Messiaen: The Technique of my Musical Language: Piano
Books by Olivier Messiaen
Technique of my musical language