Cambridge Music Tripos – Part II – Paper 1 – Dissertation
‘La toute-puissance de l’exemple’ Olivier Messiaen, composer-pedagogue.
Candidate Number: 2579K
Word Count: 9,560
PART ONE 1
The Master himself An examination of Messiaen’s experiences as a pupil and of his three pedagogic texts
PART TWO 2
Messiaen’s Pupils A collation and commentary of published recollections from the pupils of Olivier Messiaen
PART THREE 3
Boulez vs. Messiaen A battle of two great minds or the student following the master?
New recollections A presentation of newly collated recollections of Messiaen’s pupils
Introduction Messiaen is now not only seen as one of the most important composers of the twentieth century, but also as a leading figure in the teaching of music after the Second World War. Messiaen’s pupils have become influential composers, instrumentalists and musicologists. His pupils do not belong to a certain school, such as those of Schoenberg or more loosely of Boulanger. They range from Boulez to Xenakis and include Stockhausen, Goehr and Benjamin. Seen as an individualist in both composition and teaching styles, Messiaen held professorships at the Paris Conservatoire from the age of 32 as well as teaching at the Ecole Normale de Musique, the Schola Cantorum, holding regular private classes and teaching abroad (in Budapest – 1947, Tanglewood – 1947 and 1949, Darmstadt – 1949, 1952, 1953 and 1961, Saarbrücken – 1953, Buenos Aires – 1963). Messiaen’s individuality seems to have been transmitted to those whom he has taught. Many of Messiaen’s pupils have written recollections of their time studying with him. This material mainly exists in the first person, such as Benjamin (1995) and Boulez (1986). Jean Boivin has devoutly collected extensive material from Messiaen’s pupils (1995) and more recently has commented broadly on Messiaen’s pedagogical style at the Paris Conservatoire (2007 and 1998). The writings of Olivier Messiaen must be central to any such study. Few teachers have left such a comprehensive personal collection of thoughts, ranging from birdsong to proposals about the properties of time. Both detailed and plentiful, Messiaen’s writings could be seen as personal reflections after years of teaching rather than instructive manuals to aid further generations of students. It is possible to assess Messiaen’s teaching style from the various accounts given by his pupils, eminent and otherwise. It is also possible, as discussed above, to understand Messiaen’s ideas and views on music through his copious writings. Both sources of information are as important as each other in understanding the mind of this great pedagogue. ‘The master is prepared to accept ingratitude and injustice, rebufss and rebelliousness […] in order to establish him [the pupil] as an original’, wrote Boulez (1986, p 418) in reference to Messiaen’s teaching. It is important to investigate how Messiaen created the ‘individualism’ found in his pupils’s styles. I aim to provide a third person account of Messiaen as a compositional pedagogue, from the various personal recollections that exist. Since analysis would seem to be Messiaen’s primary compositional pedagogical technique, an important aspect of my research will be to examine the similarities between the seminal analyses of Le Sacre du Printemps by Boulez and Messiaen. If analysis was crucial to Messiaen’s teaching, did it influence the analysis style of Boulez?
CHAPTER ONE The Master himself An examination of Messiaen’s experiences as a pupil and of his three pedagogic texts Messiaen evidently had an individual approach to teaching. The way he taught was a reflection of his character and his musicianship. This ‘musicianship’ must have been in part a reflection of how he was both brought up as a child, how he was taught and also a reaction to how he was taught. He may have adopted methods of teaching from his own teachers, or reacted against those methods, preferring to use his own. The process of his development as a musician and therefore the way he taught composition will have been affected by how he was taught. In such a study it is important not only to look at Messiaen’s pupils and his teaching, but also reflect on the past and to look at how he was taught. *
Messiaen started his music studies by the age of seven-and-a-half when he obtained Gluck’s Orphée, bought for him from Deshairs in Grenoble. Messiaen initially taught himself to play the piano. From the piano he gave performances of operas, whilst singing principal roles himself, ranging from Mozart’s Don Giovanni to Wagner’s Die Walküre. Aged 8, Messiaen had already composed his first work Le Dame de Shalot, inspired by a Tennyson poem. From a very young age Messiaen was already interested not only in core repertoire, but also works by Wagner, Ravel, Berlioz and Debussy as well as poetry and Shakespeare. He was obviously influenced by his parents; his mother the poetess Cécile Sauvage and his father who translated the complete plays of Shakespeare into French. In 1918 he met his first Harmony teacher Jean de Gibon. Whilst living in Nantes Messiaen mentions two other musicians who ‘helped him on his way’, the singer Lucy Vuillemin and pianist Robert Lorta. When the Messiaen family moved to Paris Jean de Gibon gave Messiaen a score of Pelléas et Mélisande by Debussy. It was to become the most important work for Messiaen, both in his teaching and his own compositons. The first time Messiaen appears in the formal register of students is October 1920. It is likely that he had been an auditeur at the Conservatoire for year prior tio his enrolement. During his time at the Conservatoire, he was taught by Dukas (composition), Widor (composition), Joseph Baggers (timpani and percussion), Georges Falkenberg (preparatory piano), Jean Gallon (harmony), Georges Caussade (counterpoint and fugue), César Abel Estyle (piano accompaniment), Marcel Dupré (organ improvisation) and Maurice Emmanuel (music history). While at the conservatoire he also saw Jean Gallon’s brother Noël for extra tuition. Messiaen described Noël Gallon as a ‘marvellous teacher […]. He was extremely kind […] patient [and he would] encourage me […] he knew how to adapt to my age and my tastes.’ This is a description which one could easily conceive as having been given by one of Messiaen’s pupils about their Master. Perhaps it was from Noël Gallon that Messiaen discovered how he might wish to teach if given the opportunity. Maurice Emmanuel aided his fascination and interest in ancient modes *
This biographical detail is a much condensed collation of the information presented in Hill and Simeone, 2007
and non-Western modes as well as bird song. In Emmanuel’s second piano sonatina (1897) entitled Pastorale each movement takes a different bird for its title; the quail, the nightingale and the Cuckoo. His third piano sonatina (1920) is entitled Sur des Modes Hindus. The other teacher that seems to have had an influence on Messiaen’s interest in non-traditional musical practices is Joseph Baggers. Baggers is known for his interest in unusual percussion instruments, as can be seen in his Méthode de timbales et instruments à percussion (1906). The fact that Messiaen’s mother died just before Messiaen started in Dukas’ composition class, aged 18, may well have had an impact on the relationship between master and pupil. Dukas showing compassion to his new student would have altered their relationship. This experience could have contributed to the compassion that Messiaen seems to have displayed towards his own students. It is easy to be sceptical about the seemingly rose tinted view most, if not all his students have of him as a teacher. Boulez, although critical of his teacher’s compositions on many occasions, is reluctant to dull the praise that has been ladened on Messiaen’s pedagogical techniques: ‘Messiaen was the determining influence of my student days’ (1966, pp 8). It is important to assess how much praise is given on account of his evidently charming personality, yet at the same time realise that much of Messiaen’s success as a teacher is because of that character and personality. Messiaen’s now fully published writings on composition (Vingt leçons d'harmonie (1939), Technique de mon langage musical (1944) and Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d'ornithologie (published posthumously, 1994 - 2002)) must be the beginning for any serious study into his aptitude and style of teaching. The seven volumes of Messiaen’s Traité alone are an extensive aspect on his teachings and are invaluable to any student wishing to further their study. They present us with possibly the largest collection of thoughts, on compositionally related topics, of any major composer to date. Roger Nichols (1996) states that there are a few ‘quibbles […] although they pale into relative insignificance beside the treasures these volumes do include’. The Traité is not an autobiography, like that of Berlioz or Stravinsky, nor is it a collection of letters like those of Mozart or Britten. It is not Messiaen trying to recreate a past that did not exist. That, as has been seen by the recent research of Rebecca Rischin (2006), was to some extent carried out in his interviews with Claude Samuel and others. The Traité reveals Messiaen as a thinker and a teacher, writing from his own perspective, his views are as crucial to the work as the facts on which those views are based. Scholars have been quick to discuss and object to Messiaen’s thoughts, yet have missed the important fact that such a work can tell us so much as it stands without criticism. Although one can disagree with the viewpoints Messiaen proposes, it is obviously difficult to criticize the content of the Traité when looking at Messiaen’s pedagogical techniques. *** Vingt leçons d'harmonie (1939) looks at harmonisation of both melodies and base lines from Monteverdi to Ravel. Messiaen says it is for those ‘who have completed their apprenticeship in Harmony’ (p 1). One can see the styles of the composer’s used in Apendix 1 (p x). This pre-World War Two text already demonstrates the influences at the centre of Messiaen’s teaching. It is important to note that one melody is in the style of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and another is
in the style of Hindu Cantilenas. The other obvious influence of note is the amount of French composer’s present and the omission of Beethoven or Brahms. Technique de mon langage musical (1944) acts as a handbook for students wishing to progress in the methods of composition. It is clear and simple. It presents much that Messiaen was to comment on in his Traité, yet evidently in a much more concise manner, and with limited examples and lacking analysis. It is, one could say, the ‘do’s’ of composing through the eyes of Messiaen as a teacher in 1944. What is interesting is that it includes few, if any, negative statements. The writing comes across as advice rather than instruction. It is clear that within ten years of the publication of Technique de mon langage musical, Messiaen felt that his work in this area needed extending and thus in 1954 started compiling his Traité. In the preface Messiaen says: It is always dangerous to speak of oneself. However, several persons have vigorously either criticized or praised me, and always wrongly and for things I had not done. On the other hand, some students particularly eager for novelty have asked me numerous questions relative to my musical language, and I decided to write this little “theory”. (p 7)
At the end of the preface, Messiaen thanks a number of people. It allows the reader to see those who influenced him: Jean and Noël Gallon, who stimulated in me the feeling for the “true” harmony, Marcel Dupré, who orientated me toward counterpoint and form, Paul Dukas, who taught me to develop, to orchestrate, to study the history of the musical language in a spirit of humility and impartiality; - those who influenced me : my mother (the poetess Cécile Sauvage), my wife (Claire Delbos), Shakespeare, Claudel, Reverdy and Eluard, Hello and Dom Columba Marmion […], birds, Russian music, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, plainchant, Hindu rhythmics, the mountains of Dauphiné, and finally all that evokes stained-glass window and rainbow.
The preface gives a clear indication of those who influenced Messiaen, evidently with omissions. A close reading of the text will lead one to discover two important French treatises that inspired Messiaen; Dupré’s ‘remarkable’ (p 35) Traité d’improvisation and Vincent d’Indy’s Cours de composition musicale. Messiaen not only references them separately in Chapter X, but in Chapter XI he also discusses Dupré’s development of d’Indy’s idea of the ‘song-sentence’ (p 37). When looking D’Indy’s text one immediately sees a resemblance to Messiaen’s later Traité. In Technique Messiaen states the composers which believes are important to his musical language (for a list see Appendix 2 p x). Finally, one must note that the only composer Messiaen includes in either a chapter heading or sub-heading is Debussy. This is yet further evidence of the large influence that Debussy had on Messiaen as a composer and a musician. Messiaen gives importance to two quotes from Dukas, ‘Listen to the birds. They are great masters’ (p 34) and ‘Rhythmicize your harmonies!’ (p 27). The first quote reveals a possible origin of Messiaen’s ornithological passion. The second of these quotes is particularly interesting, in this instance, due to Messiaen’s treatment of rhythm in Technique. The Technique devotes six of the first seven chapters to rhythm and then four chapters to melody and six to harmony (including four of those to
modality). In Technique he treats rhythm with the importance that has only been ascribed to melody and harmony in the past. However, he does open Chapter VIII with the words: Supremacy to melody! The noblest element of music, may melody be the principal aim of our investigations [â€Ś] rhythm remains pliant and gives precedence to melodic development.
This initial statement of Messiaenâ€™s views on composition is a concise display of many of the factors which influenced him. It is already clear that, as a teacher, he understands what the student needs, and also how to present those needs in such a manner that does not impose, but rather encourages further study.
CHAPTER TWO Messiaen’s Pupils A collation and commentary of published recollections from the pupils of Olivier Messiaen Jean Boivin in La classe de Messiaen (1995) states that Messiaen’s class was ‘without equal in the music teaching world of the 20th century and possibly unique within the history of western art’ (p 13). Boivin in his study of 1995 presents the first in depth investigation into Messiaen as a teacher. He explains that the phenomenon of la classe de Messiaen can be split into four sections; the place, the people, the Master and the teaching. Boivin says that the place (i.e. the matters of discussion within the class) was concerned with the very latest techniques and processes from the musical world, and not solely confined to western art music. Boivin explains that the pupils, had already garnered some recognition in their own genres, yet in the class they were all equals, a ‘brotherhood’. He emphasises the diversity of musical style and countries of origin, which were represented in the class. The Master was a musician, a ‘theoretician’, a revered, albeit religious, humanist and was thoroughly versed in science and perception. The teaching as already stated was without equal and not with in the confines of the strict tradition of the Paris Conservatoire. These are bold claims, yet can be quickly confirmed in most cases. If one looks at Messiaen’s Traité it is evident just how well versed he was in many topics. The class lists provided by Boivin (pp 410-432) show the diversity of the participants, and it is clear that from Messiaen’s own interests and from his Vingt leçons d'harmonie and Technique de mon langage musical that the class would have been concerned with the latest developments of the compositional world. It should be noted that much of Boivin’s work was completed before the Traité was published and that then (in 1995) much less was known about Messiaen than is today. We now take much for granted, where as Boivin was providing scholars with an original source of research, in addition to Messiaen’s already published writings. As already stated, Boivin (1995) presents the most important resource for a study into the pedagogical aspect of Messiaen’s life. In effect, in an edition of the thesis for his doctorate, Boivin meticulously charts the progression of La Classe de Messiaen from after the second World War, through Messiaen’s three positions at the Paris Conservatoire as a professor of harmony, analysis and finally composition. Throughout part one of his investigation, Boivin is not principally aiming to present the facts as such. What he suggests is more important is the reason behind the facts, a stance he continues in the second part of his investigation. By associating different problems concerning the pedagogy of composition with different times in Messiaen’s teaching career, Boivin is able to go further than those who have simply presented recollections. Boivin associates those recollections with the methodology of Messiaen’s teaching. An obvious example is in the third section (la classe de compositon) of the first part where Boivin entitles a subsection La composition ne s’enseigne pas mais s’enseigne tout de même*1. Here he quotes the recollections of six students: Mari, *
All translations can be found in Apendix 3 (pp x-x)
Reverdy, Levinas, Denis, Benjamin and Ancona. Mari (Olivier Messiaen – L’Homme et son oeuvre, 1965) describes how Messiaen displayed ‘fundamental kindness’ and never showed any sign of ‘scepticism’. Messiaen ‘gave a chance to all works’ even those with a ‘shortage of talent’ to which he showed ‘respect if not support’. He only gave ‘criticism’ to increase a work’s ‘chances of survival’. This commentary by Mari is then enhanced by information from Reverdy, who explains Messiaen’s ‘great modesty’. Reverdy talks about Messiaen’s ‘respect of our independence’, as well as discussing Messiaen’s approach to the compositions of the class; ‘Jamais il ne s’attachait à une question d’ordre esthétique ou formel’2 because ‘été dangereux pour notre avenir’3. This highlights an important aspect of Messiaen’s approach to teaching composition. He did not wish to influence the artistic creativity of an individual, but enhance that individual’s possibility of successfully fulfilling his own creativity. Evidently this teaching is not suited to all tastes, as Lévinas explains, ‘Je n’ai jamais pu avoir de lui le moindre secret artisanal’4. What is clear however from Lévinas is that Messiaen very much divided up his classes into sections. In one section, Messiaen would discuss and analyse scores both current and from the past (in regard to aspects of composition such as rhythm, harmony or colour), as well as aspects of philosophy or science. Quite separate from the analysis was the appraisal of the students’ scores where Messiaen simply discussed technical matters of composition, not artistic content. It seems that if a student came to Messiaen’s class wanting to be shown his compositional voice, or path, then he would leave empty handed. This is underlined by Denis. He comments that when Messiaen was analysing a score from the repertoire there was a clear difference in his approach, compared with looking at a score of a member of the class ‘il la démontait complètement, la regardait de fond en comble; cela pouvait prendre toute la matineé’5. Benjamin strengthens Messiaen’s likeable persona in saying; ‘Au contraire de Schönberg, Messiaen ne se montrait jamais sévère’6. In the second half of his investigation, Boivin looks at the crux of Messiaen’s teaching style – the analyses of works taught in his classes. Boivin commences his conclusion by asking the question, ‘did Messiaen achieve what he did because he was just ‘the right person, in the right place, at the right time’? Evidently, after the Liberation of France from Nazi rule at the end of World War Two, young composers were looking for a new voice. Paris had been a great centre of culture at the start of the twentieth century with the likes of Diagelev, Stravinsky and Les Six, not to mention Debussy. Paris at the start of the twentieth century was providing an alternative solution to the break down of chromaticism, as opposed to that favoured by the Second Viennese school. Paris was still a centre of revolution, as argued by Jane Fulcher in The composer as Intellectual: Music and Ideology in France 19141940 (2005). Boivin then underlines the forward thinking approach of Messiaen and the amount of music to which he exposed his students, much of which was outside what could be considered orthodox for the times. He raises the important point that during Messiaen’s teaching period the only way of hearing new works was via the radio or by going to concerts, and the rare chance of obtaining a recording. However, all of these were much more difficult to obtain, compared to the ease with which students can now access new works. Messiaen created ‘un enviroment artistique et intellectuel bouillonnant’7. Bovin explains that the students of Messiaen have a reverential type of praise for their teacher. To his pupils he is a ‘true Master’ in the
Confucian concept of the word*. If one pairs La classe de Messiaen with the Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d'ornithologie (although unpublished at the time of la classe de Messiaen going to print), it seems that Boivin is suggesting that it is possible in some sense, and to a certain extent to recreate the ‘Messiaen experience’. Dingle (1997) in his review of la classe de Messiaen states that ‘a quantum leap has now been made in our understandings of Messiaen’s activities as a teacher’. Dingle rightly raises the important fact that Boivin relies not only on the pupils of Messiaen who have been successful, but also on those who have not, thus allowing the reader a fuller picture of Messiaen’s prowess. Dingle surmises that Boivin’s study shows that some students are critical of their master’s actual analyses, but have nothing other than praise for his teaching method. It is Messiaen’s openness that allows for the creative spirit of the individual to be established and to grow in confidence, so the true voice of the composer can speak. There are problems with the way in which Bovin has presented his material. There is a sense that if he had simply reproduced the commentaries and recollections of the pupils, followed by a critical commentary and appendices (such as the approach of Philip Weller in his chapter concerning L’Ame en bourgeon in Olivier Messiaen: Music, Art and Literature, 2007) a work of much greater use would have been produced. By structuring his argument as he has, Boivin has undermined both his own commentary and the recollections of Messiaen’s pupils. This has thus devalued the extent to which the investigation is of use for further scholarly study. The other obvious problem with this type of investigation is the large degree to which it relies on the interviewing technique of Boivin, something that is very much hidden from the reader. An explanation of how this study was conducted could have furthered the credibility of the factors on which Boivin bases his arguments. It is not clear whether much of the information collated is a primary source, or whether it is derived from written or verbal conversations. *** In ‘Messiaen’s teaching at the Paris Conservatoire’ (1998), Boivin rightly brings to the reader’s attention “the French composer’s rare ability to reach beyond technique or theory to the universal questions of creativity and inspiration”. Once again Boivin uses evidence from the pupils’ recollections to support his argument. Drawing on much of his research presented in 1995, Boivin underlines Messiaen’s desire to find the ‘inner’ composer in his pupils. Boivin quotes Xenakis saying ‘everything is possible in music [as long as it is] guided by a talent in which reason and intuition commingle.’ Boivin argues ‘that Messiaen’s rare human profile can help explain his undeniable influence as a teacher’. By using both biographical material and recollections from past students, Boivin demonstrates the broad scope of Messiaen’s class. Messiaen analysed works ranging from Machaut to Schoenberg. The ‘harmonist and rhythmician’ ensured that his students, both private and at the Paris Conservatoire, were presented with a extraordinarily broad repertoire. Thus, by his method of teaching via analysis of composition, Messiaen did not limit his students to one genre. He therefore avoided forging parameters in their minds within which they felt compelled to compose. Boivin argues that it was by Messiaen’s own *
individualism, that he attracted his stylistically unconstrained students. Boivin also argues that Messiaen’s symphonic style of piano playing aided his teaching. His virtuosic skill at being able to link various contrasting genres and periods via demonstration of musical excerpts (at the piano) allowed his students to see music as a whole. Boivin tries to focus on specific areas of interest to Messiaen that were central to his teaching, such as time, love and philosophy. However, the briefest encounter with such large topics does little more for the reader than to make them aware of where Messiaen’s interest lay. Boivin draws quick conclusions from the influence Messiaen had on his students and others, such as Murail and Grisey. He does however, make note of the fact that Messiaen did not specifically dwell on his own beliefs, until later, analysing his own music, where it was necessary to explain the principal behind the composition. Yet one wishes that instead of presenting the topics (both musical and otherwise) which Messiaen discussed in class, Boivin had isolated one or two of Messiaen’s pupils as case studies, and offered an argument about the links from Messiaen’s teaching to his student’s composing style. This would allow any influences to be revealed in more detail and in a more convincing manner. Boivin’s study has a tendency to act only as an introduction to his preceding work and sadly seems to add nothing more. *** In ‘Musical analysis according to Messiaen: a critical view of a most original approach’ (2007), Boivin once again revisits the subject of Messiaen’s teaching style. On this occasion he quite rightly focuses on what Messiaen excluded, for example Bach, Haydn, Schubert and Brahms, as well as Mahler, Sibelius and a lack of Italian repertoire, except for Monteverdi’s Orfeo. This seems at a superficial level an unnecessary objective, but Messiaen’s unorthodoxy does not lie solely in what he did include, but also what he chose to ignore. Boivin does in some instances confuse the reader. He mentions the lack of attention paid to Schoenberg in Messiaen’s class, but in other parts of the chapter discusses the broad-minded inclusion of the Second Viennese School. Boivin states that ‘Masterworks of the repertoire were from the outset examined by Messiaen in an effort to transmute their richness into creativity.’ Boivin also rightly says, ‘intuition and liberty […] always remained a fundamental part of his [Messiaen’s] approach’. A large proportion of the chapter looks at the now complete Traité, using it to support arguments on Messiaen’s teaching principles. With Boivin’s 2007 article, he adds to the discussion of his already stated beliefs on Messiaen’s teaching style. He however reduces the amount of commentary based on the recollections of Messiaen’s pupils. Thus, by combining his two later publications of 1998 and 2007, Boivin presents an argument and in a sense a conclusion to his own La Classe de Messiaen of 1995. Rather than this piecemeal approach, which in all fairness may have arisen due from the fact that in 1998 the Traité was only part published, a more direct and combined approach could have been taken in the first instance. If in La Classe de Messiaen Boivin had presented a more detailed and clear argument, a publication would have been produced that underlines Messiaen’s true genius as a pedagogic master. Such a treatise would have become not only an invaluable source for further
commentary on Messiaen, but also an important resource for those wanting to examine musical pedagogy in a broader context. *** Two sets of recollections of Messiaen’s pupils are brought together in The Messiaen Companion (edited by Peter Hill, 1995) and the more recent Olivier Messiaen le livre du centenaire (edited by Anik Lesure and Claude Samuel, 2008), whereas Goehr provides his own recollection in his book Finding the Key (1998) as does Levinson in his interview with Benitez (2006). In The Messiaen Companion (1995) Boulez, Benjamin and Hill recount about Messiaen as a teacher. In addition there is an interview with Yvonne Loriod. These four pupils of Messiaen clearly represent the different types of students that made up his class, excepting those who have not come to prominence. Boulez is the world famous composer and conductor who was a pupil of Messiaen’s during his early career at the conservatoire; he is also a pupil who reacted against Messiaen. Benjamin is a famous composer from the end of Messiaen’s teaching time at the Conservatoire, who saw Messiaen as a father figure. Peter Hill is both the scholar and the instrumentalist, who studied with Messiaen not at the conservatoire but privately. He has devoted much of his life to widening the resources available for Messiaen scholarship, as well as greatly increasing the amount and quality of that scholarship. Finally, Loriod is the second wife as well as a student of composition who became a world-class performer and promoter of Messiaen’s works. Boulez in his recollection entitled The Power of Example describes the power of Messiaen’s personality and his unique gift of revealing one to oneself, allowing one to establish oneself firmly as an original. Boulez believes, in a broader sense, that Messiaen freed French music and allowed music to be treated as a worldwide, universal phenomenon. Messiaen saw the distinguishing marks of any civilisation, not as barriers but as possible links. Boulez closes his ‘dedication’ by saying: ‘he fascinates us by the diversity of his options and the elaborate simplicity of his choices’. Benjamin describes that as ‘with Schoenberg, he [Messiaen] must be the central teacher of this [20th] century’, ‘Messiaen was benign, gentle, encouraging’ ‘he created an environment where there was much love, enthusiasm, human generosity and great richness of resource’, ‘it was like studying with a friend, an uncle, a wiser and better companion’. Hill on the other hand, reminiscing from a performer’s perspective, again talks about Messiaen’s natural ‘courtesy, sweetness and charm’. Hill allows us to understand better how Messiaen saw his own compositions. He had no urge to revise his works, only to correct and amend misleading notation. Messiaen was concerned with allowing no phrase to be under-characterised and emphasised that intensity and feeling were paramount to the interpretations of his works. It is evident that Messiaen’s approach to those who came to him, like Hill, (to understand his works better) was similar to his approach to his composition students: ‘Messiaen was quick to encourage’. Hill recounts, that in reference to a pianist’s style ‘Messiaen detested bringing out the top note […]. What interested him were the effects produced by
experimenting with the balance within harmony’, ‘Messiaen was a stickler for clarity’. Hill describes Messiaen as having ‘such selflessness’, ‘his scores were not an end in themselves. For Messiaen the “music” was not in the notes, nor in the sounds they represent, but in the meaning which lies beyond and which through sound we hope to reveal’. In the interview Peter Hill conducts with Yvonne Loriod, Hill asks ‘would you tell us more about the Treatise?’ Loriod replies that the Traité represents ‘all his teaching at the Conservatoire’. On Loriod’s first meeting with Messiaen, at the first lesson of the his harmony class after Messiaen returned from captivity in Silesia, she remarks ‘We were absolutely captivated; the whole class adored him straight away.’ Loriod finishes the interview by saying that ‘all his life Messiaen believed in joy.’ Although the above recollections and interview were published in 1995, three years after Messiaen’s death in 1992, the Boulez article comes from 1978 and the interview with Yvonne Loriod was undertaken in January 1993, less than a year after Messiaen had died. Therefore, it is important that the reader is careful to understand the circumstances under which the various articles were written. The Benjamin and Hill articles are very much coloured with a rose tinted hew and evidently the interview with Loriod is full of emotion and probably influenced by Messiaen’s recent death. However, they let the reader appreciate that Messiaen as a man seemed to have the same approach and manner, whether as a teacher of composition (to both younger and older students as well as at the beginning and end of his career), or when advising about the playing of his piano works. Although experiences and memories fade as time passes, it seems clear from this cross-section of recollections that Messiaen’s genuine personality is not something that has been conjured up from rosy recollections, yet was a true representation of both the teacher and the man. *** In A conversation with Composer Gerald Levinson about Olivier Messiaen by Vincent P. Benitez (2006), Benitez gives a transcript of the conversation followed by a short commentary. Following his studies with Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire (1974-1976), he served as a translator and assistant for many master classes, lectures, texts and programme notes that Messiaen gave when in the United States. Initially Levinson describes that he perceived Messiaen to be ‘totally unapproachable’ as in all of his pictures ‘he looks as if he is on another planet’. However, on his first meeting with Messiaen, he was in ‘shock, because they [Messiaen and Loriod] were such nice people, so courteous, unpretentious and friendly […] actually I think he was quasitelepathic, or at least very intuitive about people.’ It is not surprising that Levinson found Messiaen ‘very-patient’ as throughout the interview he confirms what others have said about Messiaen’s kind, thoughtful and gentle nature. Levinson, like Benjamin, also comments on the amount of time he devoted to teaching at the Conservatoire, ‘Messiaen’s class met for twelve hours a week – three four-hour sessions – talk about generous; that was just amazing!’. Not only did Messiaen spend this large proportion of time with his students but also ‘was willing to come in early to do dictation exercises with us [‘foreigners who had crossed the oceans to try to get into his class’]’. Levinson demonstrates that in Messiaen’s class it was ‘actual music’ which was central to his teaching. When discussing dictation, which was taken to a very high level at the Conservatoire, Levinson recounts that ‘Messiaen couldn’t bring
himelf to drill these kinds of non-musical melodies with us, so […] he brought in Schoenberg or Berg – the actual music’. Levinson also shows the importance of the Traité, ‘when I started getting volumes of the Traité, I thought, wow this is just like being there! I could almost hear him talking. What’s in the Traité is just like what he did in class.’ Most of what Levinson says has in some form been said by others. On Messiaen’s reaction to his students’ compositions ‘he wasn’t very, very hands-on about digging into how a piece was written. […] He would give us many detailed tips on orchestration [and there] was a lot of attention to instrumental details’. He goes further to support the argument that one of the major factors that was important to Messiaen’s teaching was the support he showed his students. The most important thing you came away with, more than any specific compositional advice, was the feeling that your musical efforts had been deeply understood and generously supported.
*** In ‘The Messiaen Class’ (Finding the Key, 1998) Messiaen’s pupil Alexander Goehr allows for a greater understanding of Messiaen’s class than many of the recollections provided by former pupils. The opening statement; ‘I am not sure whether this is in fact about Messiaen or whether it is about myself at the time’ provides the reader with an interesting idea of Messiaen being crucial to his students not as a developer of their composition as such, but more importantly ensuring their development as a musician and broadening their experiences. Goehr says that he became a composition student of Messiaen’s to see ‘if I could learn to “draw blood” by my compositions’. It was the ‘persistence’ of Messiaen that he wanted to learn. In an interesting early statement Goehr says that classes took place three times a week for four hours each, a considerable amount of time. Messiaen was impatient with those who could not speak French in class with a relative degree of fluency, seemingly because that contributed to the pressure of available time. This underlines the degree of concentration and amount of information presented in these classes. Goehr believed that he ‘was coming to the most advanced composition class in Europe’. In his chapter he gives a flavour of what they studied with Messiaen in the class of ‘Musical Philosophy in 1955-6. However, what is more interesting is an explanation of why Messiaen’s class was so diverse in the extramusical topics it covered: If an English composer had been interested in any one of these things, [Psychology etc.] […] it would have been regarded, […] as an extramusical concern […] – as opposed to the “real” and technical musical concern with harmony, counterpoint or form. But here, as I was to find out throughout my year with Messiaen, such things were all bound together. There were often very surprising leaps from general observations about natural phenomena, […] to purely musical ideas […]. For him, and this he perpetually emphasised to us, there was no dividing line between the observable world and the microcosm of music
Not only does one get a specific idea of how the class proceeded throughout the year, something that is less than frequent in other students’ recollections, but there are also interesting observances about the Master in question: ‘Messiaen was absolutely predictable: more than any musician I’ve ever come across he had very strong aural preferences.’ It seems that in many cases Goehr, at the time of his studies
with Messiaen, was quick to jump to conclusions about Messiaen’s method of teaching. In the teaching of analysis he was surprised by the over simplistic, yet correct answer to: ‘What is the form of the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony’, the answer being: ‘Sonata form with two subjects’. Yet, after analysing Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Goehr realised that the strength of Messiaen’s analysis ‘lay in his ability to combine his own different interests in a single study’. It was Messiaen’s analysis of melody and its relation to literary and visual imagery that was so personal and striking to Goehr. In ending his chapter, Goehr remembers that: ‘a man of that kind of ability, of genius needed no positions or systems but retained always his new and open relationship to sound, and a humility’. This once again sheds light on a reason behind Messiaen’s success as a teacher. He was not a man dogged by a specific style or allegiance to a certain cause such as Schoenberg, and thus he did not produce disciples that felt an urge to recreate and use what their Master had already created. He was open to everything, thus it was everything he taught. Although a seemingly obvious statement, it helps to reveal Messiaen’s ability of avoiding the production of one ‘type’ of composer. The proposition of such an argument in effect suggests that Messiaen did produce a type. He allowed his students to develop styles that although firmly rooted to the past, were not beholden to that past. *** In Olivier Messiaen le livre du centenaire (2008) articles are once again presented by Yvonne Loriod, Pierre Boulez and Peter Hill as well as Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Myung-Whun Chung. Here in a book, which is very much a work compiled to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of Messiaen’s birth, one must again be wary when approaching such texts from a scholarly perspective. Boulez talks about his ‘second shock’ with Messiaen being ‘la modernité de son enseignement par rapport aux autres professeurs à la même époque’8. This statement is not particularly surprising and acts as an initial reaction to Messiaen’s general teaching style. Possibly, what is more interesting is Boulez’s reaction to Messiaen’s set harmony exercises: Cette leçon, jamais oubliée, sur l’évolution et la relativité des constituents du langage musical aura été, au-delà de l’exercise de style, un des fondements de mon 9 rapport avec le passé, avec la modernité permanente du passé
This shows a direct influence that Messiaen’s teaching had on Boulez. It is in effect a statement of more importance given the fact that Boulez has been able to see that influence in himself for more than fifty years. Loriod’s recollection is a more brief, yet personal account, of Messiaen’s musical studies and his stay at Fulingy after his mother’s death in 1927. In Hill’s recollection, he touches on a subject of particular relevance. Although much, in fact volumes, has been published about Messiaen and in particular his teachings (for example the Traité), there still seems to be somewhat of an ‘enigma’ surrounding him: ‘Pourtant, malgré cette masse d’informations, Messiaen reste une sorte d’énigme’10. It is this ‘enigma’ that has caused so much research, for example in the case of Boivin, with little true outcome, except more questions. Hill focuses in part on the Messiaen archives that exist, as the title suggests (Les archives entrouvertes), and adds little to what he said in The Messiaen
Companion (1995) about Messiaen as a teacher. However, he does talk about Messiaen’s ‘obsession artisanale’11. It is possible to suppose that due to Messiaen obtaining success with the aid of this ‘obsession’, he wanted to impart this concept to his students and thus his teaching took the manner of passing on information rather than an instructive primer. His teaching was not one of influence but of access, access to what he had discovered through his ‘obsession artisanale’. Pierre-Laurent Aimard in his recollection Messiaen au Coeur de ma vie musicale describes Messiaen’s music as his ‘langue maternelle’12, ‘tout le reste est passé par ce filtre’13. Thus through Messiaen’s teaching but more specifically his music, Aimard has ‘learnt’ the rest of the piano repertoire and the ‘filtre’ has affected his interpretations of that repertoire. He describes the piano works of Messiaen as ‘l’oeuvre d’un prophète’14. Such comment on a composer might reflect Aimard’s beliefs, yet it also replicates the feelings and comments of Messiaen’s composition students who have shown a Masterly respect. He makes an interesting statement in regard to Messiaen’s influence on his pupils and makes a slight suggestion to there being a Messiaen ‘school’: C'est la voie déjà indiquée par Debussy sur l'espace, que Messiaen singularise et radicalise, et qui aboutira finalement, plus tard, au travail totalement novateur de Stockhausen et de Boulez – travail véritablement acoustique, manière d’ouvrir la 15 source sonore qu’est l’instrument sur un espace donné.
CHAPTER THREE Messiaen vs. Boulez A battle of two great minds or the student following the master? Boulez was a revolutionary and studied with Messiaen from 1944-45 in Messiaen’s harmony class at the Conservatoire. According to Hill and Simeone (2005) Boulez first attended one of Messiaen’s private classes, for ‘Les Flèches’ at Delapierre’s house on 8th December 1944, aged 19. As described by Griffiths and Hopkins (Oxford Music Online), Boulez first showed proof of his ‘exceptional abilities as a musical analyst’ in Messiaen’s class at the Conservatoire. Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande was a central theme and common to Messiaen’s teaching at the Conservatoire. Messiaen would devote up to six weeks of the course to Pelléas et Mélisande, according to George Benjamin (Hill 1995). However, Messiaen’s analysis of Le Sacre du Printemps (Traité Vol. 2) has garnered equal if not more fame. Boulez, in his study of the work, builds on Messiaen’s ideas. On general analysis Boulez (‘Towards a Technology’ from Stocktakings, pp 44-179) says that: Ciphered analyses of music are legion, but studies in depth are very rare; and it is these that are needed. […] What is rewarding is to observe the dialectic of events, to obtain a bird’s eye view of the whole procedure and see how a composer contrives to formulate by means of such system.
We know that in simple terms, Messiaen focused his analysis on rhythm, melody and chords (in an individual setting), and that structure of a work was initially analysed in a general manner. In the quote above Boulez asserts that one must first obtain a general or ‘bird’s eye view’ of a work, a simple approach. This seems to be similar to Messiaen’s aim in reference to Goehr’s recollection in The Messiaen Class (1998). It is evident that Boulez saw Le Sacre as a crucial corner stone of modernism in the 20th Century. He says ‘The Rite of Spring serves as a point of reference to all who seek to establish the birth certificate of what I still call “contemporary” music […] this “piece” has become […] the cornerstone of modern music’ (1986). Boulez admits that the starting point of his analysis must be those elements that have been proposed by Messiaen. These important factors create the basis of Boulez’s analysis. Boulez uses Messiaen’s ideas of the added value, the irregular rhythms and rhythmic canons (in their different guises) as well as development, diminution or augmentation of cells and of course the idea of ‘non-retrogradable rhythm’. What is perhaps more striking is Boulez’s fixation on the rhythmic aspects of the work. Messiaen was obviously concerned with the importance of rhythm ‘Rhythm, is the primordial and perhaps essential part of music; I think it most likely existed before melody and harmony, and in fact I have a secret preference for this element’ (Samuel, 1994, p 67). In fact in Messaien’s initially published short analysis of Le Sacre (Le rythme chez Igor Strawinsky, 1939) he says, ‘Le rythme, depuis l’acquisition de l’hamronie, a été relégué au dernier rang de preoccupations musicales […] Remercions Strawinsky d’avoir remis le rythme à l’honneur’16. Here, Messiaen shows the importance of Le Sacre to his learning, which is reflected by Boulez who says ‘with Stravinsky, the pre-eminence of rhythm is shown by the reduction of polyphony and
harmony to subordinate forms’. Boulez describes the work as a whole as ‘the new blood of barbarians” ’ which is similar in style to Messiaen describing the work as ‘primordial’. Messiaen looks to the origins from which this work has come, citing Rimsky-Korsakov, Debussy, Schoenberg and Gârngadeva as those who have engaged with irregular rhythm in the past, yet the factors outside of the work itself to which Boulez refers are in Messiaen’s already discovered truths and in his conclusion when talking about isorhythm. Boulez in his Proposals at the start of Towards a Technology from his Stocktakings (1991) says that ‘Messiaen’s teaching, [is] the only interesting thing on the subject, [and I will use it] as the starting point for the present study’. Here Boulez’s influence from Messiaen is clearly shown, as well as in the following paragraph where he looks at Stravinsky’s use of juxtaposition which he says is ‘clearly related to the Hindu raga’. In Boulez’s conclusion to the chapter when briefly discussing isorhythm he talks about the importance of Claude Le Jeune and other French Renaissance composers, which we can see from Boivin’s list were studied in Messiaen’s class at the Conservatoire. What is evident in Messiaen’s first published analysis of Sacre is that it is more a commentary, an idea of where the piece’s origins lie, in a broad sense, and how it fits into the progression of music as a whole. In the preface to Volume 2 of the Traité Alain Louvier says that Messiaen in many ways had ‘une double face’17 when it came to teaching. On the one hand he said how the ‘revoultionnaire’ approach to music, which was being taken in the 1950s and 1960s could find their roots or equivalence in the music of ‘les grands musicians du debút de ce siècle’18. On the other hand he said that ‘la nouveauté en soi est secondaire […] l’usage des métriques irrégulières passé directement de Claude le Jeune à Stravinsky’19. The problem with such a comparison between the two analyses is that Boulez admits that much of the work has already been done by Messiaen, and thus having stated this Boulez avoids repeating what Messaien has said. It is also important to understand that these two analyses have two different purposes. Messiaen’s analysis is, for first part, an in depth commentary on the whole piece and then the second half of the analysis is used to illustrate a discussion about personnages rhythmiques. Boulez however is using the analysis in part to argue about Stravinsky founding a ‘Technology’. An evident difference from the start is the fact that Boulez states he does not wish to go bar by bar through the piece as this will have little value. However, he does not say whether this is because Messiaen has already satisfactorily achieved this. The other obvious difference is that Messiaen is concerned not just with the music itself but with various factors surrounding it. For example he explores the similarity in a rhythm to that of Debussy’s Nuages, Hindu rhythms and what Stravinsky is trying to convey in an extra-musical sense. It is interesting to note that when Messiaen is discussing Walt Disney’s use of the music in Fantasia he includes a little information about the stegosaurus ‘7 métres de long – double rangée de plaques osseuses dressées sur le dos’20. This demonstrates just how broad minded in his approach to music Messiaen was. The only major area where Boulez and Messiaen disagree is in the use of polytonality. Messiaen looks at its use in some detail relating it to passages in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, whereas Boulez says Le Sacre owes its harmonic profile to its ‘hierarchical organisation on notes of attraction’ rather than to the ‘gratuitousness of polytonality’.
It is however possible to see many similarities between the two analyses. Both analyse the first phrase in a similar although obvious way, emphasising the use of the note C as a means of separating the phrase. They also both identify the use of two principal motifs, which then develop and permeate the whole of the Introduction. Throughout the work, both are interested in, and stress the importance of, the rhythmic and melodic pedals and the composition of the phrase metrically, and how those metrical divisions change as the unit develops. Boivin (1998) suggests that ‘Messiaen’s models in the field of music analysis were primarily Vincent d’Indy’s composition treatise and the teaching of both Paul Dukas and Maurice Emmanuel.’ Therefore, one could argue that the similarities between the analyses are largely due to the development of the French school of analysis, via Messiaen and Boulez, rather than Messiaen’s unique style contribution. However, Messiaen’s overtly strong emphasis on rhythm throughout his life in both his teachings and compositions is clear in the direction that Boulez takes in his analysis. Boulez is saying Stravinsky developed this new language mainly through a novel approach to rhythm. It could be suggested therefore that Boulez would not have come to this conclusion if it had not been for Messiaen’s rhythmic fascination.
CHAPTER SIX New Recollections Recollections collated by the author Over the past year I have been fortunate to speak to some of Messiaen’s pupils about their experiences of studying with him. I have met with those who have studied with him as a teacher of composition at the Conservatoire (Pierre Boulez and George Benjamin), as an adviser for interpretation of his piano works (Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Peter Hill) and those who attended his lectures at Darmstadt (Theo Hirsbrunner). With two of these student’s, Benjamin and Aimard I conducted interviews relating to Messiaen’s influence as a teacher. I was taught by both Boulez and Hirsbrunner on the subject of le Sacre du Printemps. I took part in a conducting master class principally devoted to this work in Luzern from the 22nd to the 27th of August 2008. Boulez instructed me in my interpretation and conducting style of the work, and Hirsbrunner led discussions on the analysis of the work. The overriding factor that was evident in their comments about Messiaen was the kind hearted and supportive nature he showed to all his varied pupils. However, he cared very greatly about detail and would always examine an idea in the fullest possible manner. It was interesting to observe Boulez, who aged 83, is no longer the abrasive, upsetting tyrant of new music that he was purported to be in the 1950s and 1960s. Now in many ways he has taken Messiaen’s place as the ‘old master’ of French music and it is possible to see many similarities in his manner to that of Messiaen’s. Boulez was continuously supportive yet ensuring every detailed was examined, although it was his interpretation that had to be produced. The interview with George Benjamin took place on the 13th November at Kings College London. As the interview proceeded it was interesting to see the ways in which Benjamin had adopted much into his teaching style from Messiaen, yet still felt that his compositional voice was very different to that of Messiaen’s. Benjamin described how it was ‘inspiration’ that Messiaen gave not influence and thus a school of Messiaen did not exist. What was important to Messiaen was ‘originality’. Messiaen’s analyses of works were very detailed, yet he showed great enthusiasm for what he did. He thought it important to ‘write music for joy’ and that composition was a ‘technical and aesthetic craft’. It was the ‘rigour of decision’ that was important. An important factor for Benjamin was that Messiaen, through the exercises that he undertook in class, allowed the pupil to hear their composition in their head. When examining his pupils’ compositions he thought it necessary to clear their mind, to ‘sort out [any] confusion’, something which Benjamin says is very important to his own teaching. Benjamin says that for Messiaen encouragement was the very point of teaching, and his objective was to make people happy with what they were doing. He believed achievement was obtained by unfettered individuals. It was his love to try and inspire this individuality. The interview with Pierre-Laurent Aimard took place on the 10th December 2008. Although very generalised in what he said his opinions once again are similar to those already expressed. Aimard described how Messiaen was very pleased with different interpretations of his own works. He was always encouraging and admired creativity, yet was specific in what he wrote and demanding when it came to clarity
and precision. What he said was very similar to the interview he gave on the 21st July 2008 for the BBC Proms. In this interview with Charles Hazlewood, Aimard describes Messiaen as the ‘Pope’, once again showing this Confucian reverence towards Messiaen, which Messiaen’s pupils had. He goes on to say what ‘great strength and belief [there was] behind [his] discreet attitude’ reinforcing the evident modesty he showed in his own capabilities towards his pupils. When questioned about the legacy which Messiaen left Aimard describes it as ‘his music […] a lot of light, colour and hope in a very dark century […] a prophet for a new time in music […] as a prophet for a new time in music […] and [he showed us] a new way to hear music’.
CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions Much has been written about Messiaen as a person, both how he taught and also the influence that he may have had on his pupils. His legacy is likely to survive for many years to come. How long this legacy exists will depend greatly those he has influenced. He has influenced people who have never met him by the publication of his writings and his music. He has exerted influence through his pupils. The influence one person has on another is obviously an unquantifiable factor. In today’s age it is easy to try to look for specifics, patterns and trends from one person to the next. However, in the case of Messiaen, the term influence is not concerned with facts or processes but rather a mindset. Messiaen was wary of influence, he wished to be a vehicle for creativity and avoid constraint. It was not for him to tell his students what they should write or play. He wished to teach his pupils in such a way that they could teach themselves. He realised that in the modern world non-western culture would become increasingly important and the more rounded the individual, the more people they could reach with their music. By attempting to convert his influence into inspiration, Messiaen did not create a method of composition but more importantly a school of thought. It was just as much through Messiaen’s writings, teachings and discussion as the manner of man he was, which ensured that this inspiration was so effective. Thus, La classe de Messiaen that contained Boulez, Benjamin, Stockhausen and Xenakis, all share similarities; their ‘joy’ for music, a ‘persistence’ and clarity in their composition and most importantly a freedom, individuality and sincere novelty in all that they have done. In such a materialistic world concerned with glory and fame Messiaen, by the man he was and by the legacy he given us, has provided musicians with a reminder of what is truly at the heart of music, and that is the music itself.
APPENDICIES Apendix 1 A list of the exercises presented in Olivier Messiaen’s Vingt Leçons d’Harmonie. Monteverdi – Melody Rameau: Passepied – Melody Bach: Chorale – Bass, Prelude – Bass, Trio Sonata for Organ – Bass Gluck – Melody Mozart: String Quartet – Bass, String Quartet – Melody Schumann – Bass Franck: Canon – Melody Part Schumann/Part Lalo – Bass Part Chabrier/Part Massenet – Melody Fauré: Sicilienne – Bass Part Schumann/Part Fauré/Part Albeniz - Melody Part Franck/Part Debussy – Melody Part Massenet/Part Debussy – Melody Part Chabrier/Part Debussy – Melody Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande – Melody Ravel - Melody In the style of Hindu Cantilenas - Melody Above is given: First the composer of the style; secondly (if stated and in italics) the specific genre pertaining to that composer; finally whether it is the bass melody line from which the student is to derive there answer.
Appendix 2 A list of the composers and examples used in Messiaen’s Technique de mon langage musical (Stated in alphabetical order). J. S. Bach Bartók Beethoven Berg Chabrier Chopin Debussy Préludes, les Images Dukas de Falla Greig Haba de la Halle Honegger Jolivet Massene Milhaud Monteverdi Moussorgsky Mozart Rameau Ravel Rimsky-Korsakov Schönberg Scriabine Stravinsky Tournemire Wagner Wischnegradsky French Folk Songs Hindu Rhythms Hindu Ragas Plainchant Russian Folk Songs
Second Kyrie of the Mass in B minor, first movement of the Sixth Trio Sonata, the great Fugue in G minor, chorale Adam’s Fall, ornamented chorales Fifth Symphony in C minor Suite lyrique Pelléas et Mélisande, Reflets dans l’eau, les Estampes, les Ariane et Barbe-bleue Chanson de Solveig Judtih, Horace victorieux, Antigone, Danse des morts Mana, Danses rituelles Orfeo Boris Godounov Daphnis et Chloé (Danse générale), Ma Mère l’Oye Sadko Le Scare du Printemps Orgue mystique
Introit de Noël, movements from the Catholic Mass Point n’était de vent
Appendix 3 Translations of text given in French throughout the investigation (translations by the author). 1
Composition can not be taught, but it is taught all the same Never did he approach a question about form or aesthetics 3 It was dangerous for our future 4 I never could have received the slightest artistic secret from him 5 He deconstructed it completely, he looked at it from the foundation upwards, it could take all morning 6 As opposed to Schoenberg, Messiaen was never severe 7 An artistic and intellectually bubbling enviroment 8 The modernity of his teaching, compared to the other professors at that time 9 This never forgotten lesson, on the evolution and the relativity of the constituents of the musical language has been, beyond the exercise of style, one of the bases of my relationship with the past, with the permanent modernity of that past 10 However, in spite of this mass of information, Messiaen is still sort of an engima 11 Artistic obsession 12 Maternal [governing] language 13 All the rest is passed through this filter 14 The works of a prophet 15 It’s the idea of space, already proposed by Debussy, that Messiaen defines and radicalises, which will later, finally succeed with the completely innovative ideas of Stockhausen and Boulez, truly acoustic work, a way of opening up the source of the sound, which is the instrument, in a given space. 16 Rhythm, since the acquirement of harmony, has been relegated to the bottom shelf of musical concerns […] let us thank Stravinsky for giving rhythm back its honour 17 A two faced approach 18 The great musicians from the start of the century 19 The innovation in itself is secondary […] the use of metric irregularities passes directly from Claude le Jeune to Stravinsky 20 7 meters long – two lines of osseous plates drawn up along its back 2
Aimard, Pierre-Laurent: ‘Messiaen au Coeur de ma vie musicale’ in Lesure and Samuel (ed.): Olivier Messiaen: le livre du centenaire (Lyon: Symétrie, 2008) 251– 252. Aprahamian, Felix: ‘Messiaen, Olivier’, Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th edition, Vol.5, ed. Eric Blom (London: MacMillan, 1954). Baggers, Joseph: Méthode de timbales et instruments à percussion (Paris: Enoch & Cie, 1906). Benitez, Vincent: A conversation with Composer Gerald Levinson about Olivier Messiaen: www.oliviermessiaen.net/sitedocs/papers/Levinson.pdf, 2006, accessed 25 January 2009. ———: Olivier Messiaen: A research and information guide, (New York and London: Routledge, 2007). Benjamin, George: ‘The Master of Harmony’, in Hill (ed.): The Messiaen Companion, (London and Boston, MA: Faber and Faber, 1995) 268–273. Boivin, Jean: La Classe de Messiaen (Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1995). ———: ‘Messiaen's Teaching at the Paris Conservatoire: a Humanist Legacy’, in Bruhn: Messiaen's Language of Mystical Love (New York and London: Routledge, 1998): 5–32. ———: ‘Musical analysis according to Messiaen: a critical view of a most original approach’, in Dingle and Simeone: Olivier Messiaen: Music, Art and Literature (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007b): 137–157. Boulez, Pierre: ‘Rétrospective’, L’artiste musicien de Paris, No. 14, 1966, pp. 8-10 ———: ‘La toute puissance de l’exemple’, a speech given at the Paris Opéra on 10 December 1978 on Messiaen’s seventieth birthday. ———: Orientations: Collected Writings, ed. Jean-Jacques Nattiez, trans. Martin Cooper, (MA: Faber and Faber London and Boston, 1986). ———: Stocktakings from an apprenticeship ed. Paul Thévenin, trans. Stephen Walsh, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) ———: ‘Une sorte de principe d’incertitude’ in Lesure and Samuel (ed.): Olivier Messiaen: le livre du centenaire (Lyon: Symétrie, 2008) 47–52.
Bruhn, Siglind: Messiaen's Language of Mystical Love (Kentucky: Routledge, 1998) Dingle, Christopher: ‘Review: [untitled]’, Tempo, New Series, No.202 (Oct. 1997) 25–26. ———, and Nigel Simeone (eds.): Olivier Messiaen: Music, Art and Literature, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007b). ———: The Life of Messiaen, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007c). Dupré, Marcel: Traité d’improvisation à l’orgue, 2 volumes, (Paris: Durand, 1926) Emmanuel, Maurice: Sonatine No. 2 ‘Pastorale’ pour Piano, Op. 5, (Universal Music Publishers: 1897). ———: Emmanuel, Maurice: Sonatine No.3 ‘Sur des Modes Hindus’ pour Piano, Op. 19, (Universal Music Publishers: 1920). Fulcher, Jane: The composer as intellectual – Musical ideology in France 1914-40, (Oxford: OUP, 2005). Goehr, Alexander: ‘The Messiaen Class’ in Goehr: Finding the Key, (London, Boston, MA: Faber and Faber, 1998). Griffiths, Paul and G. W. Hopkins: ‘Boulez, Pierre’ from Oxford Music Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/03708?q=boule z&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit, 2002, accessed 2 March 2009 ———: Messiaen, Olivier, The Penguin Companion to Classical Music, (London: Penguin, 2007). Hill, Peter (ed.): The Messiaen Companion, (London and Boston, MA: Faber and Faber, 1995). ———: ‘Les archives entrouvertes’ in Lesure and Samuel (ed.): Olivier Messiaen: le livre du centenaire (Lyon: Symétrie, 2008) 243–249. ——— and Nigel Simeone: Messiaen, (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2005) d’Indy, Vincent: Cours de compostion musicale, 2 volumes, (Paris: Durand, 1912) Loriod, Yvonne: ‘Interview with Yvonne Loriod (Peter Hill)’ in Hill (ed.): The Messiaen Companion, (London and Boston, MA: Faber and Faber, 1995) 283–303. ———: ‘Fioretti’ in Lesure and Samuel (ed.): Olivier Messiaen: le livre du centenaire (Lyon: Symétrie, 2008) 239–241. Messiaen, Olivier: Vingt leçons d'harmonie, (Paris: Leduc, 1939)
———: ‘Le rythme chez Igor Strawinsky’: Revue musicale, 191 (1939b mai-juin) 331–332 [91–92]. ———: Technique de mon langage musical, 2 volumes, (Paris: Alphonse Leduc, 1944). ———: Technique of my Musical Language, 2 volumes, trans. John Satterfield, (Paris: Alphonse Leduc, 1956). ———: Traité de rythme, de couleur et d’ornithologie – Tome II, (Paris: Alphonse Leduc, 1995) Nichols, Roger: ‘Review: And a little child shall lead them’, The Musical Times, vol. 137, No. 1841 (Jul. 1996) 17–19. Orledge,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/08770, accessed 25 March 2009. Samuel, Claude: Olivier Messiaen: Musique et couleur – nouveaux entretiens avec Claude Samuel, (Paris: Pierre Belfond, 1986). ———: Olivier Messiaen: Music and Color – Conversations with Claude Samuel, trans. E. Thomas Glasow (Portland, Oregon: Amadeus, 1994). Sauvage, Cécile: ‘L’Âme en bourgeon, translation and afterword by Philip Weller’, in Dingle and Simeone: Olivier Messiaen: Music, Art and Literature (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007b): 191–278 With thanks to: Pierre-Laurent Aimard BBC Proms Office Pierre Boulez George Benjamin Peter Hill Theo Hirsbrunner Matthew Schellhorn