MUSIC 1AA3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 18: Synesthesia, Fot, Irreversible Process

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9 Aug 2016
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Chapter 17 - Zgorzelek, Poland: Oliver Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time
Introduction
- First performed by 4 french prisoners (including the composer, Oliver Messiaen)
in a German prison camp in 1941
- The Quartet is based on a mystical vision of the Apocolypse as described I the
book of Revelation
- Messiaen was a deeply religious Catholic
The Setting
World War 2
- Germany invaded Poland in 1939, and France and England declared war in
response
- War would eventually involve the soviet union and united states, allied with
France and England, against Germany, Italy, and Japan
-Massien
- After fall of Belgium and the Netherlands in may 1940, he was captured by the
advancing German troops; eventually sent to Stalag VIIIA in Zgorzelek, Poland
- France signed an armistive with Germany in June 1940; northern France was
occupied by Germany
Oliver Messiaen (1908-1992)
- Organist, pianist, composer; widely admired and influential composer,
particularly in French culture
- Born into an intellectual family; mother was a poet and father an English teacher
- Entered Paris Conservatory at the age of 11
- First published work, the eight Preludes for piano, already used techniques such
as modes of limited transposition and nonretrogradable rhythms
Messiaen’s Important Musical Characteristics
- Religious themes and expression
- Birdsong as melodic material
- Complex rhythmic structures
- Colorful harmonies
- Nontraditional scales
- Music leased not on thematic development but rather on juxtaposition of idea
Organ and composer of organ music
- Organist at La Trinite in Paris
- Important compositions for organ, core of modern organ repertory
Stalag VIIIA
- Prison camp formerly used as a camp for Hitler youth
- Not an extermination camp but rather a forced labor camp, with nearly 30,000
prisoners during the time Messiaen was imprisoned there
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