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Yvan Nommick

Saint Francis of Assisi: pinnacle and synthesis of the works of Messiaen URL:

Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) is without doubt one of the most important and original composers of the 20th century, and his teaching had a huge transcendence for some of the greatest musicians of the second half of the century. One of the most remarkable aspects of Messiaen's art was its universality: his music combines with total freedom the synchronic and the diachronic, the European and the Asian, the sacred and the profane, very communicative melodies and rhythmic procedures of great complexity; it embeds with the great European composing tradition, but it was also the starting point of techniques as vanguardist then as the integral serialism or spectralism. Born as a believer, Messiaen defined himself as a "theological musician", and attempted to express through sounds the essence of his faith. In the religious realm, the figure of Saint Francis of Assisi was a huge inspiration for him, and he recreated his devotion for the "Poverelli" in his monumental opera Saint-François d’Assise, in which he worked day and night along eight years, between 1975 and 1983, and whose sheet music is composed by 2.000 pages. Along its eight scenes, distributed in three acts, Messiaen evokes the path of the divine grace in the soul of the Saint.

This conference will offer a synthetic trajectory and compositional evolution of Messiaen, since his Préludes (1928-29) until the composition of Saint-François d’Assise, a work incorporating resources and materials coming from all the history of music, multiple extra-European references, and the stylized song of many birds.

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