Born: 1908, Avignon, France
Died: 1992, Paris, France
"It's probable that in the artistic hierarchy birds are the greatest musicians existing on our planet."
Olivier Messiaen was one of the most important figures of 20th-century French music. His compositional style was wholly his own, strongly flavored by his devout Catholicism and his interest in the Far East and birdsong. The brash high spirits of a work like Poèmes pour Mi show just how unique a voice Messiaen was in the neoclassically oriented Paris of the 1930s. The Turangalîla Symphony, premiered by Leonard Bernstein and the Boston Symphony, secured Messiaen's international reputation. He was also organist at Paris' La Trinité cathedral for six decades and a profoundly influential teacher - his students include Stockhausen, Xenakis, and Boulez.
Poèmes pour Mi (soprano and orchestra, 1937) Pollet, Cleveland Orch., Boulez (DG)
Turangalîla Symphony (1946-48) Philharmonia Orch., Salonen (Sony)
Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum (winds and percussion, 1964) Cleveland Orchesta, Boulez (DG)