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1. The Technique of my Musical Language
2. Olivier Messiaen and the Music
3. Olivier Messiaen: Music and Color:
4. Messiaen
5. The Reinvention of Religious Music:
6. Olivier Messiaen: A Research and
7. Catalogue D'oiseaux Pour Piano,
8. Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin
9. Messiaen Studies (Cambridge Composer
10. Rain Tree Sketch II: In memoriam
11. Olivier Messiaen: Oiseaux exotiques
12. Performing Messiaen's Organ Music:
13. Contributions to the spiritual
14. Die gedruckten Orgelwerke Olivier
15. Doorbraak en idolatrie. Olivier
16. The organ music of Olivier Messiaen
17. L'euvre pour piano d'Olivier Messiaen
18. Musikalische Symbolik in Olivier
19. Olivier Messiaen: La cite celeste,
20. Olivier Messiaen: Music, Art and

1. The Technique of my Musical Language (Bibliotheque-Leduc)
by Olivier Messiaen
 Paperback: Pages (1956)
-- used & new: US$84.95
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Asin: B0006AW8CW
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant
Olivier Messiaen may be the greatest composer of the 20th century. His discussion of his own musical technique is brilliant, lucid, and almost as endearing as the music itself. A must fr any serious scholar of music.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very practical demonstration of Messiaen's techniques`
This book is arranged in short lessons or demonstrations of Messiaen's musical concepts, with musical examples that illustrate the points. In comparison to the other books on Messiaen's composition techniques, thisone is the best at getting to the point quickly. ... Read more

2. Olivier Messiaen and the Music of Time
by Paul Griffiths
Paperback: 278 Pages (2009-09-30)
list price: US$33.00 -- used & new: US$33.00
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Asin: 0571247326
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Olivier Messiaen was one of the outstanding creative artists of his time. The strength of his appeal, to listeners as well as to composers, is a measure of the individuality of his music, which draws on a vast range of sources: rhythms of twentieth-century Europe and thirteenth-century India, ripe romantic harmony and brittle birdsong, the sounds of Indonesian percussion and modern electronic instruments. What binds all these together is, on one level, his unswerving devotion to praising God in his art, and on another, his independent view of how music is made. Messiaen's music offers a range of ways of experiencing time: time suspended in music of unparalleled changelessness, time racing in music of wild exuberance, time repeating itself in vast cycles of reiteration.In Olivier Messiaen and the Music of Time, leading writer and musicologist, Paul Griffiths, explores the problems of religious art, and includes searching analyses and discussions of all the major works, suggesting how they function as works of art and not only as theological symbols. This comprehensive and stimulating book covers the whole of Messiaen's output up to and including his opera, Saint Francoise d'Assise. ... Read more

3. Olivier Messiaen: Music and Color: Conversations with Claude Samuel
by Claude Samuel
Hardcover: 296 Pages (2003-03-01)
list price: US$29.95
Isbn: 0931340675
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Olivier Messiaen is widely revered as a great 20th-century composer. His distinctive music was born of his fascination with experimental modes, complex rhythms, metallic sonorities, and above all, bird songs. In these conversations, Messiaen talks candidly about his sources of inspiration, musical methods, and aesthetic views. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Messiaen in his own words, works almost like a great autobiography
OLIVIER MESSIAEN: Music and Color, a book-length interview conducted by Claude Samuel, is the closest thing we have to an autobiography of the late French composer of deeply religious music. Samuel, a friend of the composer for three decades, set down with Messiaen in 1986 to discuss his career, philosophy, musical techniques, travels, and thoughts about contemporary music.

His youth and first love of birds is covered, as well as the various adventures he had through life searching new bird-watching (and bird-listening) opportunities. Tens of pages are dedicated to how he perceived sound and colour, as he experienced synasthesia, and his rhythmic innovations. As Messiaen was nearing the end of his life, the interview deals at length with generations after Messiaen's own. The composer is full of praise for Boulez and Xenakis and his younger wife Yvonne Loriod, but his most effusive praise is reserved for George Benjamin, one of his last students (whose career doesn't seem to have taken off quite as much as Messiaen expected). The book decades over 40 pages to "Saint Francois d'Assisi", Messiaen's opera of epic proportions premiered in 1983. Messiaen seems to hold this as his most important work, and it's a pity that nowadays it is almost forgotten while "lesser" works like "Turangalila-symphonie" and the Quatuor are frequently performed.

I learned a little bit more about certain works by Messiaen by reading this interview, and a lot more about the man Messiaen and what he felt was his mission in life. Worth reading for fans of the great composer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Most informative
I find this book the definitive source of information about the personal views of Olivier Messiaen. Claude Samuel seems to be well aquainted with Messiaens music and poses interesting and thought-provoking questions tothe maestro. The book contains passages about bird-song and greek poetrywich are quite fascinating for a layman. Also quite curious are some ofMessiaens personal opinions on some of the most important composers inhistory. There is enough facts about Messiaens music to satisfy even thosewho are allready familiar with his works. The book is written in anunderstandable manner, yet deep enough for musicians and scholars to get alot out of it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely informative
This book is the definitive source of information about Messiaens personal views and opinions. Claude Samuel, the interwiever, is apparently quite familiar with Messiaens works and sets intelligent and thought-provokingquestions to the maestro. Messiaen talks about his compositional techniquesin an understandable manner, yet deep enough to satisfy the need ofprofessional musicians as well. Delightful information is also given aboutMessiaens pupils and peers: Boulez, Xenakis and Stockhausen. Also somewhatsurprising are his (often quite cruel) personal opinions about somecomposers who normally are considered to be some of the most influential inhistory. Also for a non-ornithologer there is a fascinating passage aboutbird-song and its influence and application to Messiaens music. I deeplyrecommend this book to everyone even remotely interested in one of the mostimportant musical figures of the 20th century. ... Read more

4. Messiaen
by Professor Peter Hill, Professor Nigel Simeone
Hardcover: 450 Pages (2005-10-11)
list price: US$50.00 -- used & new: US$33.75
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Asin: 0300109075
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908–92) is a musician about whom most remains to be discovered. More than a decade after his death our knowledge of Messiaen is largely conditioned by what he said about himself in lectures and interviews, in his work as a teacher, and in the monumental seven-volume treatise that encompassed the whole of his composing world. But Messiaen’s public documents conceal as much as they reveal, seldom explaining why a work was written or what complexities went into its making. The composer was similarly reticent about his private life.

This is the first book to explore the world that Messiaen was at pains to keep hidden. Based upon unprecedented access to Messiaen’s private archive granted to the authors by the composer’s widow, Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen, Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone trace the origins of many of Messiaen’s greatest works and place them in the context of his life, from his years at the Paris Conservatoire and his passionate first marriage to Claire Delbos through the immense achievements of his final decades.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
The content is comprehensive, while narrating the life of Messiaen, it gives all the background of when, where, and why works were written.It makes sense for a performer, it helps a performer to really connect with the composer.Easy to read and very accurate.Highly recommended!!

5-0 out of 5 stars A major biography that finally sheds light on the life and inner thoughts of a very private composer
Over a nearly 70-year career the French composer Olivier Messiaen gave the world a number of monumental works, usually ascribing their quality to divine inspiration. While Messiaen was one of the major composers of the 20th century, he really let little slip about his personal life or the process of composition. After his death in 1992, his widow Yvonne Loriod began to open up his archives, revealing the inner man behind the hype. MESSIAEN (Yale University Press, 2005) by Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone is the first biography to take into account Messiaen's private papers and a great number of never-before-seen photographs. It vastly expands our knowledge of Messiaen's life and work.

Hill and Simeone have really succeeded in writing an exemplary musical biography, giving equal attention to the life of the composer and the specifics of his musical output as it relates to his life. The musical details are described in terms understandable by the layman with some minimal level of musical education, and except for the composer's manuscripts used as simple illustrations, there are no score samples used. Furthermore, while even new musical biographies (e.g. Kurtz's Sofia Gubaidulina: A Biography) treat only the composer's journeys to and opinions of concert performances, Hill and Simeone give abundant space to recordings of Messiaen's music.

The new light shed on Messiaen here includes details of the creative process from the abundant notebooks he kept. We can finally see the steps towards masterpieces like "Oiseaux exotiques" or "Chronochromie". Information on the writing of "La Transfiguration" is augmented by the exhaustive correspondence between Messiaen and his exasperated patroness at the Gulbenkian Foundation. The most noteworthy of the information Hill and Simeone provide on Messiaen's personal life is the story of his first wife Claire Delbos' early breakdown and death, apparently some kind of terrible physical neural degeration instead of the usual rumour of garden-variety madness.

I've often found Messiaen's works challenging, with his monumental structures and arcane religious themes being somewhat daunting compared to the total abstraction and conciseness of other avant-garde composers. This biography by Hill and Simeone has helped me become more comfortable with Messiaen's oeuvre, and so as a musical biography I think it immensely successful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Messiaen the Man and Artist
Olivier Messiaen is one of my favorite composers. I have performed, studied, and listened to his music avidly ever since I "caught the bug" during college. Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone's book was fascinating to read because it gave me a more complete picture of Messiaen the man: his personal habits, his compositional methods, his day-to-day activities, etc. Messiaen himself wrote copiously about his works, but he most often passed over the sorts of details that fill the pages of this book.

As such, I would not recommend "Messiaen" to those who have only a passing curiosity in the man or his music. The authors seem to presuppose at least some familiarity with most of his compositions, and they discuss several of his self-analytical theories (e.g. modes of limited transposition, "rhythmic personnages," "color" chords) without further explication. Fortunately, Messiaen spared no detail in explaining these and other concepts in numerous treatises, prefaces to scores, and program notes.

For those who already know and love Messiaen's music, though, this book will be a goldmine full of insights. After reading it, I listened with new ears to even my least favorite among Messiaen's works, such as "Livre d'Orgue" and "Chronochromie." As a performer, I am now eager to dive into more of his organ and piano pieces. My renewed enthusiasm for Messiaen's music is a testament to the authors' successful way of assembling many and various details into a compelling narrative.

In addition to this book, I would recommend Rebecca Rischin's "For the End of Time" to those who are especially interested in the "Quatuor pour la fin du temps" and Messiaen's time in a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. Rischin tells the story of all four performers from the 1941 premiere (not just Messiaen himself) and gives a fuller picture of camp life at Stalag VIIIA than do Messiaen or Hill and Simeone. (Be forewarned, however, that her musical descriptions often come across as unsophisticated, especially in comparison with Hill and Simeone's--her book would rate at 4 stars versus their 5.)

Chances are that Hill and Simeone's "Messiaen" will reach its target audience without my help, but if you are a Messiaen fan and are still unsure whether you will enjoy this book, I cannot recommend it more highly.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read For Messiaen-ists!
This book is a five star joy.The authors certainly have the chops: Professor Hill is an accomplished musician whose recordings of Messiaen's piano works are top flight, and Professor Simeone previously wrote the standard bibliography of the composer's works.Their access to Messiaen's previously unavailable letters and notebooks, together with their ability to condense that material into coherent story lines, means that every chapter (there are 14) has irresistible nuggets of revelation about Messiaen's music.

One good way to judge a critical or biographical book is whether it makes you - the reader - seek out or revisit the works of the book's subject.With this book, I practically stopped reading after every chapter to play a recording of one or more of Messiaen's works, because my interest had been sparked, or re-sparked, by something I had just read.

The book focuses on the process by which Messiaen composed his works, and it is fascinating to learn about the inner workings of his particular genius.The authors essentially show that Messiaen was an astonishing omnivore, taking just about everything in his mind and heart and combining that with what he saw and heard to produce an enormous catalog of amazing music over an approximately 60 year period (circa 1930 to 1990).

Although the book is full-length and very detailed, the authors indicate in their introduction that they could not include information about, for example, the initial public reaction to each and every Messiaen composition.This is understandable, given the focus on how the music was composed.

Also understandable, given the amount of primary material (the letters and notebooks) they had at hand, is the authors' decision to limit their own inferences and opinions (although those that are included suggest that it is well worth considering the views of Hill and Simeone about most things related to Messiaen).

The book also includes hundreds of black and white reproductions of photos, ephemera, and a few bits of musical scores.These reproductions would be much better if larger, and if the later photos were in color.Of course, doing those things probably would have doubled the book's cost.On balance, it's great to have so many reproductions just as they are; they definitely liven up what might otherwise come across as a too dense mass of facts.

I read this book carefully, and did spot a couple of minor errors.Perhaps the biggest howler is the authors' suggestion (see footnote 24 at pages 157 and 393) that a book by Andre Breton about surrealism and painting that Messiaen read in 1945 was the "Second Manifesto of Surrealism."The authors missed the obvious here: the book by Breton about surrealism and painting that Messiaen readwas most probably - er, um - "Le Surrealisme et la Peinture" ("Surrealism and Painting"), first published in 1928 with a new edition published in, yes, 1945.

In a book this size, presenting so much information, such errors are inevitable and don't at all mar the authors' stupendous achievement.I strongly recommend this book, particularly to those who know Messiaen's work and would enjoy learning more about how his marvelous music came to be. ... Read more

5. The Reinvention of Religious Music: Olivier Messiaen's Breakthrough Toward the Beyond
by Sander van Maas
Hardcover: 224 Pages (2009-04-13)
list price: US$55.00 -- used & new: US$25.89
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Asin: 0823230570
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Present-day music studies conspicuously evade the question of religion in contemporary music. Although many composers address the issue in their work, as yet there have been few attempts to think through the structure of religious music as we hear it. On the basis of a careful analysis of Olivier Messiaen's work, this book argues for a renewal of our thinking about religious music. Addressing his notion of a "hyper-religious" music of sounds and colors, it aims to show that Messiaen has broken new ground. His reinvention of religious music makes us again aware of the fact that religious music, if taken in its proper radical sense, belongs to the foremost of musical adventures.The work of Olivier Messiaen is well known for its inclusion of religious themes and gestures. These alone, however, do not seem enough to account for the religious status of the work. Arguing for a "breakthrough toward the beyond" on the basis of the synaesthetic experience of music, Messiaen invites a confrontation with contemporary theologians and post-secular thinkers. How to account for a religious breakthrough that is produced by a work of art?Starting from an analysis of his 1960s oratorio La Transfiguration de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ, this book arranges a moderated dialogue between Messiaen and the music theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, the phenomenology of revelation of Jean-Luc Marion, the rethinking of religion and technics in Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler, and the Augustinian ruminations of Søren Kierkegaard and Jean-François Lyotard. Ultimately, this confrontation underscores the challenging yet deeply affirmative nature of Messiaen's music. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A choice pick for any college or community library collection focusing on music and religion
Music has always been a key part of religion, yet music has reinvented itself many times over. But what of religious music? "The Reinvention of Religious Music: Oliver Messiaen's Breakthrough Toward the Beyond" is a scholarly study of religious music with a close focus on the work of Oliver Messiaen, and what it has meant to religious music as a whole. Arguing that Messiaen has changed religious music radically, and that his work is worthy of theological debate, "The Reinvention of Religious Music" is a choice pick for any college or community library collection focusing on music and religion. ... Read more

6. Olivier Messiaen: A Research and Information Guide (Routledge Music Bibliographies)
by Vincent Benitez
Hardcover: 352 Pages (2007-10-15)
list price: US$105.00 -- used & new: US$84.00
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Asin: 0415973724
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Olivier Messiaen: A Research and Information Guide is a unique bibliographical resource that presents the reader with the most significant and helpful resources on Olivier Messiaen, one of the twentieth century's greatest composers, published between 1930 and 2007. An introductory chapter offers a short biography of Messiaen, a consideration of his musical style and works, and a discussion of Messiaen studies. Chapters 2 and 3 concentrate on the primary literature, organized around manuscript collections, articles and reviews, pedagogical works, lectures and librettos, prefaces, interviews, correspondence, and documentaries and filmed performances. Chapters 4 through 9 focus on the secondary literature, namely, biographical and stylistic studies, topical examinations, discussions of particular works, accounts of Messiaen in works devoted to other topics, reviews of books and significant performances of Messiaen's music, and examinations of source materials on the Internet. A list of works and a selected discography conclude the book.

... Read more

7. Catalogue D'oiseaux Pour Piano, 6th Livre: Le Merle de roche (Olivier Messiaen, Catalogue D'oiseaux, Pour Piano)
by Olivier Messiaen
Sheet music: Pages (1964)

Asin: B000WL8L0I
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Sheet music for piano for Olivier Messiaen Catalogue D'oiseaux, Pour piano; Le Merle de roche; 28 pages; published by Alphonse Leduc, Paris. ... Read more

8. Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Cambridge Music Handbooks)
by Anthony Pople
Paperback: 128 Pages (1998-08-13)
list price: US$29.99 -- used & new: US$15.00
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Asin: 0521585384
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book is about one musical work, the popular Quartet for the End of Time by the great French composer Olivier Messiaen. Like virtually all of his works, the Quartet combines the striking technical achievement of Messiaen's rich and attractive musical style with a deeply felt theological inspiration. Anthony Pople's book provides an introduction to Messiaen's style through an examination of this great work, showing how it came to be composed while Messiaen was a prisoner-of-war and premiered under extraordinary conditions in Stalag VIIIA in 1941. He gives an in-depth assessment of each of its eight movements. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars An exceptional overview of one of Messiaen's most characteristic works
Olivier Messiaen's Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps is, in many ways, a textbook example of all of the techniques he had consolidated up until 1941 (and is still a characteristic "textbook" up until 1950). This explains the profusion of examples from this work that find their way into Messiaen's literal textbook dating from this period, Technique de mon langage musical.

Considering this, Anthony Pople's handbook on Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps is an excellent entry into the world of Messiaen. Pople amply extracts the most prevalent techniques in this music directly from Technique de mon langage musical (A publication relatively hard to find outside of the university or conservatory library), and elaborates on them.

Due to the length and space (as well as the presumed targeted audience) provided for Cambridge Handbooks, some of the analysis is rather glossed over: the rhythmic and harmonic pedals in 'Liturgie de cristal', for example, do indeed have variation, contrary to Pople's explanation of these cycles. To Pople's credit, he points out one of the instances of this in the rhythmic pedal of the cello.

As this may only occur in the first printing of this book, the following may be excused if it has been corrected in subsequent editions. In the Appendix that cites the modes of limited transposition, there is a mistake in the example of Mode 7. The correct version in C transposition is C, Db, D natural, Eb, F, F#, G, Ab, A natural, B (enharmonically spelled). Although this may seem like nitpicking, The suggestion will surely be helpful to the frustrated student trying to realize the 6 proper transpositions to no avail. This is obviously a misprint, as Anthony Pople correctly cites the mode in his paper "Messiaen's Musical Language: An Introduction", in The Messiaen Companion.

Overall, this is a wise place to start in any study or appreciation of Olivier Messiaen's music, and Anthony Pople should be commended for this exceptional work.

5-0 out of 5 stars A heady musicological analysis that reveals a work of great cleverness
Anthony Pople's work on Olivier Messiaen's war-time masterpiece "Quatuor pour la fin du temps" is, like all entries in the Cambridge Music Handbooks series, a rigorous musicological examination.

The introduction of the work gives some background on Messiaen, speaking about his life and earlier works (useful for understanding where some of the material of the fifth movement came from). The the Quatuor's creation, within the Stalag prisoner-of-war camp in Nazi Germany, is legendary and receives some discussion here, although those hoping for even more information on the setting should turn to Rebecca Rishin's "For the End of Time: The Story of the Messiaen Quartet" (Cornell University Press, 2003).

Each of the eight movements of the Quatuor has its own chapter, and the analysis differs based on the special properties of each. For example, form and colour are the focus of the second movement ("Vocalise..."), while birdsong is the major topic of the third ("Abime des oiseaux"). The quartet was written as Messiaen was conducting the experiments that led to his early book "Technique", and Pople carefully charts the innovations of rhythm and pitch that Messiaen was developing at this time. As with all entries in the CMH series, quotations from the score abound.

If you have some musical training, Pople's book will vastly expand your appreciation of the "Quatuor". I went from thinking it a juvenille work compared to "Des canyons aux etoiles" or "Eclairs sur l'aux-dela" to seeing it as a piece of marvellous ingenuity. ... Read more

9. Messiaen Studies (Cambridge Composer Studies)
Hardcover: 270 Pages (2008-01-21)
list price: US$98.00 -- used & new: US$84.22
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Asin: 0521839815
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The French composer Olivier Messiaen is one of the major figures of twentieth-century music. This collection of scholarly essays offers new cultural, historical, biographical and analytical perspectives on Messiaen's musical œuvre from 1941 to 1992. The volume includes: a fascinating snapshot of Messiaen's life in occupied France; a study of the Surrealist poetics of Messiaen's song cycle Harawi; a chapter on Messiaen's iconoclastic path to the avant-garde heritage that he bequeathed to his pupils; discussion on Messiaen's place in twentieth-century music; and detailed analysis of specific works, including his opera St François d'Assise. The chapters provide fresh insights on the origins, style and poetics of Messiaen's music, and therefore provide an inspiration and foundation for future scholarship. Reflecting and expanding upon the broad range of Messiaen's own interdisciplinary interests, the book will be of interest to students and scholars of music, art, literature and theology. ... Read more

10. Rain Tree Sketch II: In memoriam Olivier Messiaen - for Piano (Schott)
 Paperback: 8 Pages (2005-07-01)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$9.16
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Asin: 489066372X
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11. Olivier Messiaen: Oiseaux exotiques (Landmarks in Music Since 1950)
by Nigel Simeone, Peter Hill
Hardcover: 140 Pages (2007-07-30)
list price: US$69.95 -- used & new: US$53.16
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Asin: 0754656306
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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What makes "Oiseaux exotiques" so important is that it is arguably the first of Messiaen's major works to create a successful synthesis between his music and his passion for ornithology. The earliest composition to use birdsong to a significant extent was the "Quatuor pour la fin du Temps" (1940-41). A newspaper interview a few years later ("France-Soir",1948) demonstrates Messiaen's growing desire to move away from the stylisation that had characterized the Quatuor towards a much greater realism, based on a close observation of birds in their natural habitat. At the same time, Messiaen continued to regard birdsong as music - and divinely inspired music at that - a belief that led for a time to an obsession with truth-to-nature. Against this background, "Oiseaux exotiques" proves to be a landmark, the work in which Messiaen the musician began to regain the upper hand over Messiaen the ornithologist.The introductory chapter (Chapter 1) outlines the background to "Oiseaux exotiques", discussing Messiaen's relations with the 1950s avant garde - in particular with his former pupil Pierre Boulez - and his involvement with the concerts of the Domaine musical, for which "Oiseaux exotiques" was composed. In Chapter 2, access to Messiaen's sketches enables the authors to analyse his compositional methods in unprecedented detail; a generous number of music examples refer to birdsong recordings actually used by Messiaen (which can be heard on the accompanying CD), and trace step-by-step the evolution of musical ideas from first notation to finished score. Chapter 3 provides a commentary on the music, investigating issues of continuity and texture, and revealing the processes underlying the score's dazzling profusion. In two further chapters, Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone recount the reception history of "Oiseaux exotiques", and compare recorded interpretations, taking as their point-of-departure the historic premiere, included in full on the CD.Finally, the Conclusion considers the implications of "Oiseaux exotiques" for the composer's subsequent music, from the "Catalogue d'oiseaux" (1956-8) to the later masterpieces of Messiaen's style oiseau. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A revelatory guide that will help you understand Messiaen's first birdsong triumph more deeply
Wow, I had never heard of Ashgate's series "Landmarks in Music Since 1950" until I stumbled across this in my university library. Already volumes have appeared on works by Shostakovich, Andriessen, and Kurtag, and here we have a study of Olivier Messiaen's "Oiseaux exotiques". This 1956 piece for piano and chamber orchestra was a major turning point for the French composer, where for the first time he succeeded in using birdsong as the basis of his musical material, setting the stage for all of his subsequent works. The study was written by Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone, authors of the acclaimed biography MESSIAEN.

Hill and Simeone's study begins with the context of the work's writing and premiere. They make the interesting suggestion that Messiaen had become a marginal figure on the Parisian music scene in the late 1940s and early 1950s. What won him a new audience was the avant-garde, beginning with the courses he gave at Darmstadt and continuing through the establishment of the Domaine musical concerts where "Oiseaux exotiques" was ultimately premiered. Messiaen was completely remaking his musical language due to his sudden consuming interest in birdsong, which saw him visiting aviaries and ordering gramophone recordings of birds in order to notate their calls. The authors show how drastically different this new birdsong style was from the earlier decorative uses of birdsong in works like the "Quatuor" and "Vingt Regards".

The middle part of the study is an analysis of the music itself. Working from Messiaen's never-before-seen sketches, they first show the birdsong transcriptions of the birds represented in "Oiseaux exotiques". These evolved greatly from the first notation to the finished score, and whenever possible Hill and Simeone give all the stages the music went through. They then go through the completed piece almost bar by bar. You should be able to read music to some extent if you want to get anything out of this analysis, and having a copy of the study score would help, but Hill and Simeone's study is indeed accessible for the average home listener, which is why I rate it so highly.

Finally, the authors describe the first performance of the work, its reception and its publication. They include the programme of the Domaine musical concert where Messiaen's work was premiered, describe the placement of the ensemble on the stage, tell something of the audience that night, and give samples of the critical response. They also compare the various interpretations of the work that have appeared on disc.

One of the great things about this study is that it comes with a CD containing the whole of the work, as well as the individual birdsong transcriptions played on piano by Peter Hill. The recording of "Oiseaux exotiques" present on the CD is the live recording from the Domaine musical. The authors really admire this recording, but I have to say I find the performance on the Naive/Montaigne disc "Hommage a Olivier Messiaen: The 80th Birthday Concert" much clearer, in spite of a little bit of coughing.

This is a pricey book, and if you have access to a university library you might want to search for it there. However, if you are a fan of Messiaen and can afford it, this is a book well-worth getting. I had big problems getting Messiaen's late music, when the birdsong seemed hokey stock gestures. "Oiseaux exotiques" proved my inroads to the late style, and this guide by Hill and Simeone has helped me get so much more out of it. ... Read more

12. Performing Messiaen's Organ Music: 66 Masterclasses
by Jon Gillock
Hardcover: 428 Pages (2009-11-23)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$30.04
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0253353734
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Olivier Messiaen (1908--1992) was the most influential composer for the organ in the 20th century. Shaped by French tradition as well as the innovations of Debussy, Stravinsky, and Bartók, Messiaen developed a unique style that would become his signature. Using Messiaen's own analytical and aesthetic notes as a point of departure, Jon Gillock offers detailed commentary on the performance of Messiaen's 66 organ works. Gillock provides background information on the composition and premiere of each piece, a translation of Messiaen's related writings, and a systematic explanation of performance considerations. Gillock also supplies details about the organ at La Trinité in Paris, the instrument for which most of Messiaen's pieces were imagined.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy to Understand Master Classes
I love to listen to organ music, and especially Messiaen's music. This is a beautifully written book, It is very clear, and easy to understand.I have enjoyed reading it, and love to read the introduction of each chapter, as I listen to Messiaen's music. ... Read more

13. Contributions to the spiritual world of Olivier Messiaen: With original texts by the composer
 Paperback: 188 Pages (1986)

Isbn: 3921104998
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14. Die gedruckten Orgelwerke Olivier Messiaens bis zum "Verset pour la fete de la dedicace" (Forschungsbeitrage zur Musikwissenschaft) (German Edition)
by Karl-Jurgen Kemmelmeyer
 Perfect Paperback: Pages (1974)

Isbn: 3764921080
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15. Doorbraak en idolatrie. Olivier Messiaen en het geloof in muziek
 Paperback: Pages (2002)

Isbn: 9051669216
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16. The organ music of Olivier Messiaen
by Stuart Waumsley
 Paperback: 56 Pages (1975)
-- used & new: US$26.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0006CWMX0
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17. L'euvre pour piano d'Olivier Messiaen (Au-dela des notes) (French Edition)
by Michele Reverdy
 Paperback: 100 Pages (1978)

Isbn: 2856890040
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18. Musikalische Symbolik in Olivier Messiaens Weihnachtsvignetten: Hermeneutisch-analytische Untersuchungen zu den Vingt regards sur l'Enfant-Jesus (Publikationen ... fur Musikanalytik Wien) (German Edition)
by Siglind Bruhn
 Unknown Binding: 253 Pages (1997)
-- used & new: US$136.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 3631310978
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19. Olivier Messiaen: La cite celeste, das himmlische Jerusalem : uber Leben und Werk des franzosischen Komponisten (German Edition)
 Turtleback: 240 Pages (1998)

Isbn: 387909585X
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20. Olivier Messiaen: Music, Art and Literature (Music and Literature)
by Dingle
Hardcover: 380 Pages (2007-06-07)
list price: US$124.95 -- used & new: US$114.83
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0754652971
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Editorial Review

Product Description
When Olivier Messiaen died in 1992, the prevailing image was of a man apart; a deeply religious man whose only sources of inspiration were God and Nature and a composer whose music progressed along an entirely individual path, artistically impervious to contemporaneous events and the whims both of his contemporaries and the critics. Whilst such a view contains a large element of truth, the past ten years has seen an explosion of interest in the composer, and the work of a diverse range of scholars has painted a much richer, more complex picture of Messiaen. This volume presents some of the fruits of this research for the first time, concentrating on three broad, interrelated areas: Messiaen's relationship with fellow artists; key developments in the composer's musical language and technique, and his influences, both sacred and secular. The volume assesses Messiaen's position as a creative artist of the twentieth century in the light of the latest research. In the process, it identifies some of the key myths, confusions and exaggerations surrounding the composer which often mask equally remarkable truths.In attempting to reveal some of those truths, the essays elucidate a little of the mystery surrounding Messiaen as a man, an artist, a believer and a musician. Specifically, the volume covers Messiaen's attitudes and associations to Cocteau, Stravinsky's "Les Noces", Dutilleux and Toesca, as well as exploring his teaching techniques, the Traite de rythme, de couleur et d'ornithologie, Messiaen's harmony, performing and transcription techniques, composing for ondes Martenot, his association with ballet, Saint Francois d'Assise and the influence of his faith. Messiaen himself contributes directly in the form of a speech that he gave about the tapestry-maker Jean Lurcat, and the collection also includes the first literary translation of "L'ame en bourgeon"; the garland of poems written by Messiaen's mother, Cecile Sauvage, when she was expecting him. The composer described these poems as 'the only influence' in his life, making "L'ame en bourgeon" a fascinating centrepiece to a rich and rewarding collection of essays. ... Read more

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