Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen (December 10, 1908 – April 27, 1992) was a French composer, organist and ornithologist, widely regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex (he was interested in rhythms from ancient Greek and from Hindu sources); harmonically and melodically it is based on modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations. Many of his compositions depict what he termed "the marvellous aspects of the faith", and drew on his deeply held Roman Catholicism.

He travelled widely and wrote works inspired by diverse influences such as Japanese music, the landscape of Bryce Canyon in Utah and the life of St. Francis of Assisi. He said he perceived colours when he heard certain musical chords, particularly those built from his modes (a phenomenon known as synaesthesia); combinations of these colours, he said, were important in his compositional process. For a short period Messiaen experimented with the parametrisation associated 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). He was one of the first composers to use an electronic keyboard—in this case, the ondes Martenot—in an orchestral work. Read more >>>

The majority of the text on this website is taken from Wikipedia and used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
The source of the text can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivier_Messiaen, a page which was first created on November 12th, 2002 by user Camembert | View full history

Olivier Messiaen