Performing Messiaen's Organ Music

Performing Messiaen's Organ Music

66 Masterclasses
Jon Gillock
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/14/2009
Format: Hardback 7 b&w illus., 35 musical exx.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35373-3
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Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992) was the most influential composer for the organ in the 20th century. Shaped by French tradition as well as the innovations of Debussy, Stravinsky, and Bartók, Messiaen developed a unique style that would become his signature. Using Messiaen's own analytical and aesthetic notes as a point of departure, Jon Gillock offers detailed commentary on the performance of Messiaen’s 66 organ works. Gillock provides background information on the composition and premiere of each piece, a translation of Messiaen's related writings, and a systematic explanation of performance considerations. Gillock also supplies details about the organ at La Trinité in Paris, the instrument for which most of Messiaen’s pieces were imagined.

Author Bio

Jon Gillock studied with Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory and premiered several of his late organ works in the United States and Japan. Gillock has performed several concerts on the organ at La Trinité in Paris, the church at which Messiaen served as organist for more than 60 years.


“[This] book . . . has been acclaimed for its exhaustive scope and insights. Nov. 16, 2011”
 — New York Times

“Performing Messiaen’s Organ Music is a significant contribution to both the Messiaen literature as well as to performance practice in general. . . . [T]hrough his numerous interpretative insights about Messiaen’s organ works, Gillock has shown himself to be not only a first-rate artist but also a fabulous teacher of a music whose beauty and grandeur reflect the qualities of the French Romantic-symphonic organ school from which it emerged.16.1 2011”
 — Performance Practice review

“For anyone who plays Messiaen on the organ, this is a book to treasure.”
 — Music & Vision

“Jon Gillock is a true messenger of Messiaen’s music. . . . Through him, audiences can easily understand the musical message of the great composer Olivier Messiaen. In his performances, [Gillock] takes the listener with him into Messiaen’s spiritual world from the sounding of the first note until the very end. ”
 — Yuko Hayashi , New England Conservatory

“Gillock excels at conveying his understanding of the meaning and spirit of the pieces, and this aspect forms the core of the book. . . . With the most complete primary-source guide in English to the performance of this music, Gillock presents an invaluable and deeply felt manual. . . . [He] . . . imparts vividly in words the involvement and passion the performer needs in order to bring the music to life, encouraging the player again and again to feel the gesture. September 1, 2010”
 — The Diapason

“With a unique style that would become his signature, Olivier Messiaen was the most influential composer for the organ in the 20th century. "Jon Gillock is a true messenger of Messiaen’s music....Through him, audiences can easily understand the musical message of the great composer..." -Yuko Hayashi, New England Conservatory”

“Drawing on intensive experience with the music and his close relationship with Messiaen, the author provides organists and others interested in this music with an engaging, accessible narrative that sheds much new light on Messiaen's complex music, which has confounded performers for many years. . . . Highly recommended.July 2010”
 — Choice

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents
List of Figures
Foreword by Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen
Note to Reader: How to Use This Book

Part 1. The 66 Masterclasses
Introduction: A Philosophy of the Performer's Role as an Interpreter
1. Le Banquet céleste (1928)
2. Diptyque (1928)
3. Apparition de l'<E,ACU>glise éternelle (1932)
4. L'Ascension (1933, version for organ)
I. Majesté du Christ demandant sa Gloire à son Père
II. Alléluias sereins d'une <A,CIR>me qui désire le Ciel
III. Transports de Joie d'une <A,CIR>me devant la Gloire du Christ qui est la sienne
IV. Prière du Christ montant vers son Père
5. La Nativité du Seigneur, Nine Meditations (1935)
I. La Vierge et l'Enfant
II. Les Bergers
III. Desseins éternels
IV. Le Verbe
V. Les Enfants de Dieu
VI. Les Anges
VII. Jésus accepte la Souffrance
VIII. Les Mages
IX. Dieu parmi nous
6. Les Corps glorieux, Seven Short Visions of the Life of the Resurrected (1939)
I. Subtilité des Corps Glorieux
II. Les Eaux de la Grâce
III. L'Ange aux Parfums
IV. Combat de la Mort et de la Vie
V. Force et Agilité des Corps glorieux
VI. Joie et Clarté des Corps glorieux
VII. Le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité
7. Messe de la Pentecôte (1950)
I. Entrée--Les Langues de Feu
II. Offertoire--Les Choses visibles et invisibles
III. Consécration--Le Don de Sagesse
IV. Communion--Les Oiseaux et les Sources
V. Sortie--Le Vent de l'Esprit
8. Livre d'Orgue, Seven Pieces (1951)
I. Reprises par Interversion
II. Pièce en Trio
III. Les Mains de l'Abîme
IV. Chants d'Oiseaux
V. Pièce en Trio
VI. Les Yeux dans les Roues
VII. Soixante-Quatre Durées
9. Verset pour la Fête de la Dédicace (1960)
10. Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité (1969)
I. (Le Père inengendré)
II. (La Sainteté de Jésus Christ)
III. ("La Relation réelle en Dieu est réellemen

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