A discussion of Olivier Messiaen's contribution to organ composition as expressed through his philosophies and techniques of composition

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Brown, Rex L., 1936-
Crawford, Gerald
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Thesis (M.A.)
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Whenever a new form or style of musical composition is introduced, of which our society has not been adequately conditioned, there arises an immediate desire to present some type of logical and artistic interpretation to this person's new form of expressing himself. Thereby, if a performer or teacher of music desires to understand composition and the interpretation given to a piece of music, he usually draws from his reservoir of information which has been built upon the style and tradition of the past. However, this cannot be achieved when studying the music of our contemporaries, or of such a man as Olivier Messiaen, for he goes much further than any other composer and brings to use an entirely new form or media of musical expression. Although the organ music of Messiaen is becoming more and more widely known in this day of organ and stereo enthusiasts, there exists only in very rare cases, a musical and a spiritual understanding of his music. From the performing point of view, the music in most cases is technically difficult, requiring a real virtuosity in the French tradition, such as explored by Marcel Dupre (playing and composing or Improvising simultaneously). Unfortunately nearly all of our concert organists today employ the big, showy pieces of Messiaen as spectacular technical showpieces, forgetting entirely their deeply spiritual nature, and in many cases, insecure-or inacurate rhythmic presentations of the works, produce a distortion of the composers intent.Therefore, it is now the problem of the student, the recitalist, and theorist to study Messiaen's philosophies, plus the many new techniques in his composition, so that a true, concise, and valuable interpretation might be rendered in performance. Because the need for study in this area was felt, the creative project was selected and to these ends was directed.