In his foreword to the first volume of Messiaen's long? awaited Traité de rythme, de couleur et d'ornithologie, French composer Alain Louvier recognizes his teacher's contribution to contemporary music thinking:To read this treatise is to marvel at the genius of Olivier Messiaen, at his universal spirit, curious about everything, which brings to the waning days of our century a great gust of divine inspiration.
The work is that of a Renaissance Man, of a Leonardo da Vinci, free of the chore of pleasing princes, whose rhythmic invention disdains passing fashions in order to partake exclusively of the glories of God, Nature, Time and Space.'The three volumes of Messiaen's posthumous treatise available by March 1997 already reached a total of over 1,300 pages.
The complete seven volume set will be immense, nourished by Messiaen's thirtyseven years of teaching at the Paris Conservatoire 1941978) and a lifetime of research in the fields of music analysis, composition, rhythms both ancient and modem, bird songs, and theology.The thorough reader will share AlainLouvier's admiration for Messiaen's cultural openness and his vast knowledge of the musical repertoire, from the Middle Ages to the avant-garde.
The introduction to the treatise (the first two chapters of the first volume) is devoted to definitions of rhythm and time. It brings together, strikingly, a variety of approaches as shown by the broad and far reaching list of references proposed to the reader, which includes:Confucius, Pythagoras, Dürer Victor Hugo, Saint Paul, Teilhard de Chardin,Shakespeare,Einstein, Virgil, Shri Aurobindo, Edith Piaf, and H.G. Wells. One should think that Leonardo da Vinci might not have been offended by Louvier's audacious pairing.
Messiaen's Teaching at the Paris Conservatoire:
A Humanist's Legacy by Jean Boivin