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Olivier Messiaen as Serialist

Olivier Messiaen as Serialist SERIALIST As we look back at the avant-garde music of the twentieth century and its practitioners, the figure of Olivier Messiaen presents a special and perhaps unique profile: flamboyant, Protean, hieratic ± these are adjectives that spring to mind at the mention of his name. It is perhaps surprising, then, that at a particular moment in his long career he associated himself with a sphere of musical activity whose aesthetics and underlying creative procedures seemed to be antithetical to his generally free-wheeling approach to the composition of music. I refer to the brief but remarkable period in which he wrote works that he himself described as `dodecaphonic', and which are sometimes referred to as `twelve-note' or `-tone' or, in many recent writings, by the less precise term `serial'. A consideration of exactly why Messiaen's serially-oriented music ± Â excluding the 1949 Mode de valeurs et d'intensites ± has (with two exceptions) largely been overlooked in the published writings about Messiaen or, indeed, in writings about serialism altogether, would itself be the intriguing subject of a substantial essay, and I can only touch upon three of the issues that such an undertaking might involve. Firstly, did Messiaen's status as http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Music Analysis Wiley

Olivier Messiaen as Serialist

Music Analysis , Volume 21 (1) – Mar 1, 2002

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0262-5245
eISSN
1468-2249
DOI
10.1111/1468-2249.00148
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

SERIALIST As we look back at the avant-garde music of the twentieth century and its practitioners, the figure of Olivier Messiaen presents a special and perhaps unique profile: flamboyant, Protean, hieratic ± these are adjectives that spring to mind at the mention of his name. It is perhaps surprising, then, that at a particular moment in his long career he associated himself with a sphere of musical activity whose aesthetics and underlying creative procedures seemed to be antithetical to his generally free-wheeling approach to the composition of music. I refer to the brief but remarkable period in which he wrote works that he himself described as `dodecaphonic', and which are sometimes referred to as `twelve-note' or `-tone' or, in many recent writings, by the less precise term `serial'. A consideration of exactly why Messiaen's serially-oriented music ± Â excluding the 1949 Mode de valeurs et d'intensites ± has (with two exceptions) largely been overlooked in the published writings about Messiaen or, indeed, in writings about serialism altogether, would itself be the intriguing subject of a substantial essay, and I can only touch upon three of the issues that such an undertaking might involve. Firstly, did Messiaen's status as

Journal

Music AnalysisWiley

Published: Mar 1, 2002

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