Olivier Messiaen [1908-1992]

On this day,

December 10, 1908

French composer, organist, and ornithologist

Olivier Eugène Prosper Charles Messiaen

was born

in Avignon, France

One of the major composers of the 20th century.

His music is rhythmically complex; harmonically and melodically he employs a system he called modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from the systems of material generated by his early compositions and improvisations.

He wrote music for chamber ensembles and orchestra, vocal music, as well as for solo organ and piano, and also experimented with the use of novel electronic instruments developed in Europe during his lifetime.

❝ I give bird songs to those who dwell in cities and have never heard them, make rhythms for those who know only military marches or jazz, and paint colors for those who see none.❞

Olivier Messiaen

We listen to


Symphonie for piano, ondes martenot & orchestra

Susanna Mälkki

conducting the
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Roger Muraro, piano
Cynthia Millar, Ondes Martenot

I. Introduction: Modéré, un peu vif
II. Chant d’amour I: Modéré, lourd
III. Turangalîla I: Presque lent, rêveur
IV. Chant d’amour II: Bien modéré
V. Joie du sang des étoiles: Vif, passionné, avec joie
VI. Jardin du sommeil d’amour: Très modéré, très tendre
VII. Turangalîla II: Un peu vif, bien modéré
VIII. Développement de l’amour: Bien modéré
IX. Turangalîla III: Bien modéré
X. Finale: Modéré, presque vif, avec une grande joie

“Turangalîla” means love song, hymn to joy, time, movement, rhythm, life and death, all at once.
[“Lîla” literally means play — but play in the sense of the divine action upon the cosmos, the play of creation, destruction, reconstruction, the play of life and death. “Lila” is also love. “Turanga”: this is the time that runs, like a galloping horse; this is time that flows, like sand in an hourglass. “Turanga” is movement and rhythm.]

Here are works by Messiaen, Oannes has posted in his blog:




photos taken on a stormy day, looking towards mt. Parnitha, Athens


Stay Safe!

41 replies »

  1. I usually like to listen to him in early Spring, say a sunny day in March. The sound goes with the idea of ice breaking up! Does it freeze over near the shore where you are? 🤷🤷‍♀️🤷‍♂️🧩🤔❓

  2. This music is so lovely!
    I’m 45 minutes in, and time to make dinner!
    I’ll listen to it in the kitchen, but I’ll comment now.

  3. Wonderful composer! His Quartet for the end of time is sublime and I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the work to my A level students for a few years when it was a set work. For me though, Les Enfant De Dieu from La Nativite du Seigneur is the most brillant, beautiful and frightening work of his. To hear this in a cathedral is an awesome thing!

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