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Type: Thesis
Title: The theories of Olivier Messiaen : their origins and their application in his piano music.
Author: Williams, Graham
Issue Date: 1978
School/Discipline: Dept. of Music
Abstract: This dissertation is an investigation of the printed writings and sayings of Olivier Messiaen and the relationship they bear to his piano music. The objective is to describe the composer's writings in general, but with particular emphasis upon the influences he has acknowledged and the sources he has recognized as formative to his thought and expression. These influences are then examined both in their original sources and in the more personal and specific selection Messiaen has made of them. Thus described, they are then related, through his words and practice, to the technique of his musical language. The research is presented in four main categories. Firstly, biographical data is discussed (Chapters I-IV) including Messiaen's early childhood and education (1908-1930), his first appointments and private researches (1931-1939), his return to the Paris Conservatoire as a professor (1942-47)and finally his international position since 1948. The second section describes the major theological, philo¬≠- sophical and literary influences which Messiaen has recognized, examining from a general historical and derivative basis those features to which the composer has particularly ascribed importance. These include (Chapters V-IX) the writings of the Catholic theologians, St. Thomas Aquinas and Dom Columba Marmion, the philosophy of time in the writings of Plato and Aristotle and the twentieth-century French philosopher Henri Bergson, the poetry of his mother Cecile Sauvage and the contributions of his father Pierre Messiaen to Shakespearean scholarship, the philosophy of Paul Claudel, and the Surrealist movement in France, particularly through the works of Andre Breton and Paul Eluard. Thirdly, the dissertation investigates the major sources of Messiaen's musical language with particular concentration upon his rhythmic practice. These chapters (X-XIII) discuss Indian music, ancient Greek music, plainsong, and the influence of Claude Debussy, Maurice Emmanuel, Paul Dukas and Igor Stravinsky. The fourth part (Volume II, chapters I-III) comprises an analysis of Messiaen's piano works in which the evolution of his musical language is traced through the formal, rhythmic, harmonic, melodic and timbral structures, these then being related to the theories outlined in the above sections. Included as an appendix to this volume of the dissertation is a list of the meanings of the names of the Hindu talas which Messiaen has incorporated into his rhythmic vocabulary. The bibliography is divided into two sections: (1)primary sources, that is, Messiaen's printed articles and sayings, and those published scores consulted in the preparation of this dissertation, and (2)secondary sources comprising printed books, printed articles, dissertations, reports and reviews.
Advisor: McCredie, Andrew D.
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, Dept. of Music, 1979
Subject: Messiaen, Olivier, 1908-1992 Criticism and interpretation; Messiaen, Olivier, 1908-1992. Piano music.
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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