Messiaen, Olivier (-Eugène-Prosper-Charles)


Messiaen, Olivier (-Eugène-Prosper-Charles)

biographical name

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Olivier Messiaen.—Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

(born Dec. 10, 1908, Avignon, France—died April 27, 1992, Clichy, near Paris) French composer. At age 11 he entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he won five first prizes. In 1931 he became principal organist at the church of the Sainte-Trinité, where he would remain for 40 years. He wrote his Quartet for the End of Time in a German POW camp. After the war, he taught at the Conservatoire (1947–78), where his students included Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Iannis Xenakis. His main source of inspiration was his quasi-mystical devout Catholic faith. His love of nature is evident in his many works inspired by birdsong. He also was influenced rhythmically by his study of Indian music, and he systematically explored nontonal harmonic materials. Major works include Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus (1944) and Catalogue d'oiseaux (1958) for piano, La Nativité du Seigneur (1935) for organ, the Turangalîla-symphonie (1948), Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum (1964), and the opera Saint François d'Assise (1983).

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