Olivier Messiaën

Olivier Messaien

1908 (Avignon, France) – 1992 (Clichy-la-Garenne)

One of the great 20th C composers, Messiaën’s unusually individualistic music has been widely influential. He studied with Dukas and Widor: his own body of students included Boulez (characteristically condescending), Stockhausen, Goeyvaerts, Barraqué, Henry, Grisey and Kurtág, while Xenakis sat in on his classes. Boulanger disapproved of his teaching methods, Delaunay lent him a painting by her husband, Jolivet was influential as a fellow-member of la Jeune France, and Bernstein conducted an important première. Messiaën wrote to Poulenc thanking him for defending him, and visited Durey during the Occupation. Milhaud described the Messiaëns as “charming and impossible.”

Olivier Messiaën knew…