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Visions of Amen
The Early Life and Music of Olivier Messiaen
HARDCOVER; Published: 7/10/2014
ISBN: 978-0-8028-0762-5
594 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
In Stock
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Informed study of composer Olivier Messiaen in light of recent research

French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) is probably best known for his Quartet for the End of Time, premiered in a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1941. However, Messiaen was a remarkably complex, intelligent person with a sometimes tragic domestic life who composed a wide range of music. This book explores the enormous web of influences in the early part of Messiaen's long life.

The first section of the book provides an intellectual biography of Messiaen's early life in order to make his (difficult) music more accessible to the general listener. The second section offers an analysis of and thematic commentaries on Messiaen's pivotal work for two pianos, Visions of Amen, composed in 1943. Schloesser's analysis includes timing indications corresponding to a downloadable performance of the work by accomplished pianists Stéphane Lemelin and Hyesook Kim.
Andrew Shenton
— Boston University
"In this erudite and well-researched book Stephen Schloesser presents a detailed and engaging portrait of composer Olivier Messiaen, whose individual voice dominated much of the twentieth century. In addition to offering new insights into Messiaen as rhythmician, surrealist, synesthete, ornithologist, and theologian, Schloesser uncovers topics that deepen our understanding of this complex and colorful character. . . . Combining rich theological assessment with penetrating musical analysis, this work is essential reading."
James David Christie
— College of the Holy Cross
"Fascinating. . . . Schloesser has done an admirable job of presenting his material on Messiaen in a concise, flowing, and passionate manner — you just don't want to put this book down!"
Jane Fulcher
— University of Michigan
"Schloesser offers a new, insightful, and valuable perspective on Messiaen's family background, training, and experience. . . . Delving more deeply than previous studies into the composer's changing circle of influences, this work provides a detailed portrait of Messiaen the man, the thinker, and the artist within the rapidly shifting French political, cultural, and musical world of his time."
Vincent P. Benitez
— Pennsylvania State University
"An insightful and compelling narrative about Olivier Messiaen's early life and work. Schloesser investigates Messiaen's intriguing 'ultra-Catholic avant-gardism' to uncover what might have influenced the composer as he created his early pieces, leading readers to a greater appreciation of Messiaen's later works. . . . Schloesser's Visions of Amen will become essential reading for any scholar researching this great musical figure of the twentieth century."
Olivier Latry
— Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
"One might think that everything has already been said and written about Olivier Messiaen. But this book gives us access to another dimension: Stephen Schloesser ably places us amid Messiaen's entire musical creation, describing his life, his educational and musical formation, his faith, his philosophy of time, his synesthesia, his interests, and his research. . . . An indispensable book for all who are interested in the personality, the work, and the spiritual musical message of Olivier Messiaen."
Robert Sholl
— Royal Academy of Music
"Schloesser deftly wields biographical, philosophical, theological, and musical sources to create this rich intellectual tapestry. What emerges from his fertile and imaginative study is a fine-grained image of Messiaen's originality that illuminates the question Who are you, Olivier Messiaen?"