1985Arts and PhilosophyMusic
Olivier Messiaen  photo

Olivier Messiaen

  • France / 1908-1992
  • Composer

A Composer Who Left a Significant Mark on the 20th Century Music with His Original Theoretical Framework Fundamentally Dependent upon Catholicism

The greatest music composer of the 20th century. His music is the freely embraced non-classical position, which attempted to bring contemporary expression to Catholicism. Among his masterpieces are "Catalogue d'Oiseaux," and "La Transfiguration de notre Seigneur Jésus Christ."
*This category then was Category of Creative Arts and Moral Sciences.

Profile

Brief Biography

1930
Graduated from Conservatoire de Paris
1931
Organist, Eglise de la Sainte Trinite in Paris
1942
Professor, Conservatoire de Paris (harmony, rhythmic analysis, composition)
1972
D.H.C., Catholic University (U.S.A.)

Selected Awards and Honors

1971
The Erasmus Prize, The Rhineland Prize, The Sibelius Prize
1975
The Von Siemens Prize
1977
The Leonie Sonning Prize

Major Works

1941

Quatuor pour la fin du temps

1944

Vingt Regards sur I’Enfant-Jesus

1948

Turangalila-Symphonie

1958

Catalogue d’Oiseaux

1969

La Transfiguration de N.S. Jesus Christ

Citation

A Composer Who Left a Significant Mark on the 20th Century Music with His Original Theoretical Framework Fundamentally Dependent upon Catholicism

Mr. Olivier Messiaen is the greatest composer to have emerged from 20th century France. An organist who studied musical composition and related subjects at Conservatoire de Paris, he has since become steadily more involved in composition. He has written theoretical work such as “Technique de Mon Langage Musical” and as an educator has helped to develop the musical talents of such renowned persons as Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Mr. Messiaen’s music, fundamentally related to his Catholic faith, is an effort to impart contemporary expression to Catholicism. That is to say, his music is an attempt to universalize the musical concept by active dependence upon Catholicism.

To thus universalize the music, Mr. Messiaen created his own method of composition, his aim being to create a new, pantheistic approach to expressing the true meanings of Catholicism. In other words, his music is the freely embraced nonclassical position, which rejects simple adherence to the traditional approaches to Catholic music.

One of his interests is in rhythm; his desire to seek out all possible rhythms beyond the frames of time and space resides at the heart of his music. It was in his theoretical pursuit of rhythmic sense that his own theories, such as “added value” technique and “non-retrogradable rhythms” evolved in their uniqueness.

Another characteristic of Mr. Messiaen’s music appears in unique melodies. He does not follow the classic mode, which develops motifs organically; at a glance, his structure appears to contain numerous mechanical repetitions. Closer examination, however, reveals this music to have a unique sense of order, achieved by repetition of certain kinds of patterns. Mr. Messiaen’s music thus comes to generate a certain special kind of beauty.

Mr. Messiaen’s works range from symphony, chamber music, piano music, organ music, and ondes martenot music to vocal music. Most of his controversial works express their excellence in different ways.

Mr. Messiaen’s is a master musician who has followed his own path among the various musical currents of the twentieth century, and has won a high place among the world’s greatest living composers. Already the recipient of the Rhineland Prize and the Erasmus Prize, he has thus been adjudged as most worthy of the first Kyoto Prize in the field of Creative Arts and Moral Sciences.

Lecture

Abstract of the Lecture

MA VIE AVEC LA FOI ET LA MUSIQUE

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Workshop

Workshop

LaJournée avec Olivier Messiaen

date
Tuesday, November 12, 1985 9:30~17:00
palce
Kyoto International Conference Center

Program

Chairperson Makoto Moroi
Member, Kyoto Prize Committee in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences;
Composer
10:00
Introductory Remarks Kazuo Inamori
President, The Inamori Foundation
10:03
Opening Remarks Toru Yano
Chairman, Kyoto Prize Committee in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences;
Professor, Kyoto University
10:10
Speech "Religion and Philosophy in the Music of Messiaen"
Takeshi Umehara
Member, Kyoto Prize Committee in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences
10:30
Lecture "Téchnique de mon Language Musical -après 1945-"
Olivier Messiaen
Laureate in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences
12:00
13:00
Speech "The Position of Messiaen in the Music of France"
Kazuyuki Toyama
Member, Kyoto Prize Screening Committee in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences;
Music Critic
13:15
Commemorative Performance Extracts from: "Vingt Regards sur L'enfant Jsus"
Piano: Yvonne Loriod
13:55
14:00
Symposium "Olivier Messiaen and the Music of the 20th Century"

Coordinator:
Takashi Funayama
Member, Kyoto Prize Screening Committee in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences:
Professor, Tokyo University of Arts

Panelist:
Kuniharu Akiyama
Professor, Tama College of Art
Akimichi Takeda
Assistant Professor, Masashino College Music
Eisei Tsujii
Professor, Soai University
Kunio Toda
Professor, Senzoku Gakuen University
Masaaki Niwa
Member, Kyoto Prize Screening Committee in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences; Professor, Toho College of Music
15:30
15:45
Praise for Messiaen I Greetings: H.Puig-Rogét
Visiting Professor, Tokyo University of Arts
Sadao Bekku
Professor, Chuo University
Toru Takemitsu
Composer
16:15
Praise for Messiaen II Performance: "Visions de l'amen" for Two Pianos
Piano: Kaori Kimura
Kazuoki Fujii
16:45
Praise for Messiean III Hans Åstland
Secretary-General, Swedish Royal Academy of Music
16:55
Closing Remarks Makoto Moroi
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