Olivier Messiaen: A Centennial Celebration

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No discussion of new music is complete without the name Olivier Messiaen. On the 100th anniversary of the birth of this composer, teacher (of Boulez, Xenakis, and Stockhausen to name a few) and ornithologist, host Terrance McKnight draws upon a collective of voices recently recorded live in the WNYC studios. We immerse ourselves in Messiaen's deep, loving theology; his lifelong fascination with birds (or what he called "God's messengers"), and his kaleidoscopic soundscapes. Guests include conductor (and Messiaen's friend) Reinbert de Leeuw, pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and hornist/scholar William Purvis.

Comments [11]


Beautiful show.

What is the name of the piece at minute 88?

Jan. 25 2009 12:48 AM
karen from highland park, nj

whoops! At Hunter college in the 70s I heard Messiaen and Loriod play Visions de l"Amen -- and not "Vingts Regards...." which I mistakenly typed on the blog on the 10th. just wanted to correct myself.

Dec. 17 2008 02:28 PM
karen from highland park, nj

... by the way, it was wonderful to hear Pierre Laurent Aimard talk about Messaien -- AImard is a wonderful pianist - his Messaien, his Ligeti, etc -- I try to see him whenever he performs locally.

Dec. 10 2008 10:38 PM
karen from highland park, nj

Ecstatic.... the word for tonight's programming on Messiaen's 100th birthday. Thank you Terence for this wonderful evening.

I had the good fortune to be in NYC when Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod performed the "Vingt Regards..." for 2 pianos at Hunter College - it must have been in the early 70s --what a thrill! It was my first exposure to his music.

I heard you say that Messaien said birds were the greatest musicians on earth; indeed...and hearing les Oiseaux Exotiques is always a treat; I bird by ear and can really get into their songs and calls. (I once heard that Mozart was inspired by the "songs" of his "pet" Starling.)

I'll never forget where I was when I heard Messaien had died. I was driving back to the city late at night on the NJ Turnpike and was just about at the "gas works" where thousands of lights hang in a black sea, and as the car went uphill into what seemed either heaven or nothingness I heard the announcer say Messaien had died. Every time I'm on that bit of highway I remember the moment... it's like my personal memorial to Messaien.

I've been enjoying evening music more and more lately!

Dec. 10 2008 10:31 PM
Frank Feldman

A little bird music goes a long way, with me at least.

Dec. 10 2008 09:34 PM
Emma from Brooklyn

I had the distinct privilege to choreograph the first moment of Quartet for the End of Time. It has become one of my favorite pieces of music.

When I was directing a theater production of The Conference of the Birds I listened to much of his bird inspired music. This is profound, colorful, sculptural, edgy and passionate music.

Dec. 10 2008 09:23 PM
Richard M. from Brooklyn

Please - Chopin was Polish, not French.

Dec. 10 2008 09:17 PM

Dec. 10 2008 07:19 PM
steve kaufman from nyc


Sorry to be pedantic, but Paul McCartney wrote 'Blackbird', not John Lennon. They say he wrote it in response to the American racial struggle in the 60's.

thanks for the Messiaen night - I've been waiting...

Dec. 10 2008 07:12 PM
Claudia from Brooklyn

Blackbird was a McCartney song, not Lennon. This version of the song is really beautiful though. Thank you!

Dec. 10 2008 07:11 PM
Winenegress from Jersey City

Perhaps evening music can help. I have an extra ticket to the Elliott Carter Making Music concert at Zankel Hall on Friday. If there's an Evening Music listener out there who is interested, they can e-mail me at 7:30 liftoff. The George Crumb show was amazing....

Dec. 10 2008 09:57 AM

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