Music and Color: Conversations with Claude Samuel

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Amadeus Press, 1994 - Biography & Autobiography - 296 pages
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In 1967, when Olivier Messiaen agreed to collaborate on a book of conversations, the composer of the evocative and grandly scaled Turangalila-symphonie was already considered one of the masters of twentieth-century music. Yet outside professional circles and a small but enthusiastic public, his works remained little known; he was perhaps most famous as the influential teacher of avant-garde composers Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Iannis Xenakis.
Nearly three decades later, the distinctive musical works of Messiaen have achieved the status of contemporary classics. In the intervening years, the composer himself enjoyed increased fame thanks to the far-reaching influence of his Saint Francois d'Assise, a grand operatic fresco first performed in 1983 at the Paris Opera. Honors and commissions came in abundance, yet Messiaen never bound himself to a single compositional style and never stopped experimenting - with modes that give his works their unique color, with rhythms based on ancient Greek and Indian models, with metallic sonorities inspired by the Balinese gamelan, and above all with bird songs. Considering birds the "greatest musicians on our planet," Messiaen sought them out wherever he traveled, scrupulously notating their songs and transcribing them for musical instruments. At the time of his death in 1992 at the age of 83, he had made major contributions to every part of the concert repertoire.
This collection of conversations, revised and augmented in 1986, preserves the essence of the earlier version, but the subject matter has been updated, the book enriched by several new chapters, the discography and bibliography made current and more thorough, and the book's original contents revised and corrected, line by line. The result is a richly personal view of this prolific and original figure, who in a career of more than six decades sought to convey through music the wonders of nature and his fervent religious convictions.

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Preface by Claude Samuel
Olivier Messiaen by Claude Samuel

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About the author (1994)

One of France's most eminent critics and musicologists.

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