Olivier Messiaen was one of the outstanding creative artists of his time. The strength of his appeal, to listeners as well as to composers, is a measure of the individuality of his music, which draws on a vast range of sources: rhythms of twentieth-century Europe and thirteenth-century India, ripe romantic harmony and brittle birdsong, the sounds of Indonesian percussion and modern electronic instruments. What binds all these together is, on one level, his unswerving devotion to praising God in his art, and on another, his independent view of how music is made. Messiaen's music offers a range of ways of experiencing time: time suspended in music of unparalleled changelessness, time racing in music of wild exuberance, time repeating itself in vast cycles of reiteration.
In Olivier Messiaen and the Music of Time, leading writer and musicologist, Paul Griffiths, explores the problems of religious art, and includes searching analyses and discussions of all the major works, suggesting how they function as works of art and not only as theological symbols.
This comprehensive and stimulating book covers the whole of Messiaen's output up to and including his opera, Saint Francoise d'Assise.
Paul Griffiths, born in Wales, has written novels, librettos and books on music. Among his many titles are The Penguin Companion to Classical Music and Olivier Messiaen and the Music of Time (also being reissued in Faber Finds).