Messiaen, Olivier (opera) (Eugène Prosper Charles )
- Paul Griffiths
(Eugène Prosper Charles )
(b Avignon, Dec 10, 1908; d Paris, April 27, 1992). French composer . He studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Dukas and others (1920–30) and later taught there (1941–78), his pupils including Boulez and Stockhausen. Though the theatre played a large part in his creative formation (as a boy he amassed a library of operatic vocal scores by Mozart, Gluck, Berlioz, Wagner and Debussy which he played through at the piano), he was attracted to a greater theatre, that of the church. From 1931 he played the organ regularly at La Trinité in Paris and his roots lay in Debussy and in the French organ tradition. During the 1930s, 40s and 50s he consistently added new things to his non-developing musical style: Indian modes and rhythms, 12-note speculations, vivid orchestral colours suggested by stained glass or electronic music (the simultaneity of medieval and modern is characteristic), and birdsong. Most of his works are religious, often taking the form of cycles of meditations on moments of divine intervention. ...