Olivier Messiaen was born in Avignon on 10 December 1908 to rise steadily to a unique position in world music, as an organist and improvisor, a teacher, and composer of startling originality. His music was a distillation of many elements powerful to his sense of creativity - rhythmic subtleties derived from early music, birdsong, liturgical modes, all as unique to Messiaen's style as the rhythmic elaborations which were partially based on ancient usage. The world's inheritance from Messiaen, who lived until 27 April 1992, will take position as a unique chapter in the 20th century's contribution to artistic progress.
A selection of articles about Olivier Messiaen
Ensemble. A Powerful Experience - Rimsky-Korsakov and Messiaen from Ensemble Mirage, heard by Mike Wheeler
Plangent and Nimble - Naples-born clarinettist and composer Luca Luciano impresses Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Much to be Gained - Jenny Q Chai explores sound and colour, impressing Geoff Pearce. 'The pianist is assured, exciting to listen to and totally compelling.'
Ensemble. Angel of the Apocalypse - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Messiaen in Rome
Historical Spread - Michael Overbury's Derby Cathedral organ recital impresses Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Uniquely Peculiar - French music for brass and piano, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Careful attention to the music's slightest details means the interpretive aspect is consistently special and charismatic.'
Ensemble. Civil Engagement - Giuseppe Pennisi discusses operas representing intrigues which couldn't be discussed in public
CD Spotlight. Highly Personal - Messiaen organ music, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'An excellent introduction to Messiaen's unique sound-world ...'
Ensemble. Warmth and Dignity - Mike Wheeler listens to the Derwent Singers
Ensemble. Quite Stunning - The 2015 Three Choirs Festival, enjoyed by Roderic Dunnett
Ensemble. Celebrating Pierre Boulez - Giuseppe Pennisi continues his reports from the Salzburg Summer Festival
CD Spotlight. Colouristic Potential - Vocal music by Olivier Messiaen impresses Gerald Fenech. '... imaginative conducting ...'
Ensemble. Quartet for the End of Time - Mike Wheeler continues his reports from Buxton
Ensemble. Highly Successful - Roderic Dunnett looks back to Worcester's 2014 Three Choirs Festival, and forward to Hereford's Festival in July 2015
CD Spotlight. Top-Notch - The Dobson organ at Merton College, praised by Gerald Fenech
CD Spotlight. Imaginative and Profound - Olivier Messiaen's 'Turangalîla-Symphonie', heard by Keith Bramich. '... a vibrant, sparkling performance ...'
CD Spotlight. Temporal Stasis - Olivier Messiaen's 'Vingt Regards', heard by Andrew Schartmann. '... Evan Hirsch ... brings forth the very essence of Messiaen's vision.'
Especially Brilliant - An evening of piano music from Giuseppe Andaloro, heard by Giuseppe Pennisi
CD Spotlight. Aching Beauty - Messiaen's 'Turangalîla-Symphonie', heard by Stephen Francis Vasta. '... vibrant, almost hesitant strings ...'
DVD Spotlight. Chamber Opera - Works by Sciarrino and Messiaen, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi. '... quite eclectic ...'
Nicely Paced - Martyn Rawles at the organ of Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
Great Energy - Jane Watts launches Derby Cathedral's series of summer organ recitals, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. A Strange Mixture - Bach, Messiaen and David Sherr, heard by Patric Standford. '... Sherr is very clever, and there is an appealing transparency ...'
Fun-and-games Time - Mike Wheeler listens to Venetian pianist Alessandro Taverna
CD Spotlight. Superb Music - Susanna Phillips sings Debussy, Messiaen and Fauré, heard by George Balcombe. '... Fauré knew how to make music live ...'
Ensemble. Deeply Affecting - A Remembrance Concert in Clapham, attended by Michael Graubart
CD Spotlight. Consummate Artists - Zemlinsky and Messiaen from Ensemble Liaison, recommended by Howard Smith. 'Melba's spot-on quartet recording ... fares brilliantly ...'
Ensemble. Luminous Scoring - Jongen, Dukas, Fauré, Respighi and Messiaen from Jonathan Scott, Cristian Mandeal and the Hallé Orchestra, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Very Moving - A recital by Janine Jansen and Itamar Golan, heard by Bill Newman
Utterly Compelling - Jon Gillock's 'Performing Messiaen's Organ Music: 66 Masterclasses', read by Tom Corfield
Highly Characterful - Tom Corfield plays Whitlock, Howells, Messiaen, Bach and Peeters, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. A Worthy Introduction - Song cycles and chamber music by Gareth Walters, heard by Patric Standford. '... deserves a firm place in the CD library.'
Ensemble. Total Confidence - Sinfonia Viva's summer schools project, 'Floratorio', reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Utmost Clarity - William Appling plays Joplin and Bach, heard by Howard Smith. '... consistently four square, honest, unpretentious ...'
CD Spotlight. Mice in the Manger - A selection of Christmas music, enjoyed by George Balcombe. '... an amazing collection.'
Ensemble. A Fascinating Anthology - Music on the theme of angels, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Jaw-Dropping Technique - Sharon Bezaly plays Gubaidulina, Beamish and Takano, recommended by Ron Bierman. '... a beautiful tone at any volume in any octave ...'
Ensemble. Exceptional Gifts - Lawrence Budmen reports from the 2009 Miami International Piano Festival
Ensemble. Lucidity and Conviction - Karis Stretton plays Messiaen, impressing Mike Wheeler
Record Box. Flawless Ensemble - Music by Messiaen, recommended by Patric Standford
Youthful Freshness - Gareth Green gives the final organ recital in Derby Cathedral's summer series, and Mike Wheeler was in the audience
Dynamic Extremes - Mike Wheeler enjoys Timothy Noon's recital of Bach, Bohm, Dubois, Messiaen and Widor
An Interesting Programme - An organ recital by Martin Neary, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Lucid Messiaen - Cathy Lamb at the organ, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Four Heroes - Mike Wheeler enjoys a multi-player organ recital
Extraordinary Clarity - Naji Hakim begins the Derby Cathedral summer organ recital series, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
An Enviable Technique - Matthew Schellhorn's Wigmore Hall début recital, reviewed by Robert Hugill
Chopin in the Boondocks - Stephen De Pledge returns to New Zealand, by Howard Smith
Richness and Clarity - Ashley Grote opens Derby Cathedral's series of summer organ recitals, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Interval Talk - Alistair Hinton comments on Patric Standford's recent 'Provocative Thoughts'
Ensemble. Silvery Tone - A recital by Serena Leader and Gordon Back, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
'Shooting the Pianist'! - The eerie case of a South-American pianistic 'revenant', by Malcolm Troup
Ensemble. Three Premières - Malcolm Miller applauds the latest concert of music by Julian Dawes
Stylistic Variety - Passiontide music sung by the Derwent Singers, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Giants? - Alistair Hinton replies to Patric Standford's latest Provocative Thoughts
CD Spotlight. A voice to cherish - Dawn Upshaw sings Messiaen, Debussy, Golijov and Fauré, recommended by David Wilkins. '... a great disc!'
CD Spotlight. This is music - Listening to Japanese composer Akio Yashiro, by Keith Bramich. '... good performances and a clear recording.'
CD Spotlight. A palpable reality - Gillian Weir plays Messiaen, and Robert Anderson is thrilled. '... exciting fidelity ...'
Distinction and imagination - Malcolm Miller attended a recent concert by violinist Grigory Zhislin
Japanese tone painting - Takemitsu, Schumann and Musorgsky. Malcolm Miller at a recent recital by Noriko Ogawa
(Features listed in grey are in our archive, and available to subscribers only.)