Olivier Messiaen

"My faith is the grand drama of my life. I'm a believer, so I sing words of God to those who have no faith. I give bird songs to those who dwell in cities and have never heard them, make rhythms for those who know only military marches or jazz, and paint colours for those who see none". 

(Olivier Messiaen)

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© Malcolm Crowthers

OLIVIER-EUGENE-PROSPER-CHARLES MESSIAEN (b. Dec. 10, 1908, Avignon, France.d. April 27, 1992, Clichy, near Paris), Olivier Messiaen was the son of Pierre Messiaen, a scholar of English literature, and of the poet Cecile Sauvage. Soon after his birth the family moved to Ambert (the birthplace of Chabrier) where his brother, Alain was born in 1913. Around the time of the outbreak of World War 1, Cecile Sauvage took her two sons to live with her brother in Grenoble where Olivier Messiaen spent his early childhood, began composing at the age of seven, and taught himself to play the piano. On his return from the war, Pierre Messiaen took the family to Nantes and in 1919 they all moved to Paris where Olivier entered the Conservatoire.

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The Cleveland Museum of Art invited Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod to perform a two-piano concert on October 13, 1978, in the Gartner Auditorium. The Museum has recently unearthed the recording made of the occasion.

See news page

A prayer composed by Olivier Messiaen

A rare document submitted by P. Jean-Rodolphe Kars

Matthew Schellhorn's special film for the
RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2021

15th January 1941

It is 80 years since the premiere of


at Stalag VIIIA Gorlitz by Messiaen and fellow musician prisoners Henri Akoka, Étienne Pasquier and Jean Le Boulaire.


The memorial and visitor centre at the site of

Stalag VIIIA


Rodrigo De la Prida introduces Messiaen's Modes for Electric Guitar

Robert Grenier (bass) rehearses with Messiaen and

Yvonne Loriod see Writings page


Tom's Messiaen vlog - Episode 1


Organist Tom Bell is keeping a video diary as he prepares Messiaen's Livre du Saint-Sacrement for a performance scheduled for November 2020. In his weekly vlog he will be exploring the learning process, the music itself, and the questions around how you perform it. 


Messiaen commissioned sculptor Josef Pyrz to create a work on St. François d'Assise

see Gallery page

St. François and a passing bluebird.


A rare and happy flash by Jim Frazier.

This sculpture was made by FRANK C. GAYLORD and is located in the city of CHICAGO-ILINOIS/USA.

Special Offer!


This Limited Edition publication explores the 20 year history of the Festival Messiaen au pays de la Meije. The book pays tribute to the commitment of its founder and artistic director, Gaëtan Puaud and  editor/author Raphaëlle Blin highlights the artistic, social and political experiences that maintained and supported creative music making and activities in the landscape that was so dear to Olivier Messiaen. The 160 stunning photographs by Colin Samuels and the testimonies of the performers, composers, musicologists, volunteers and members of the public reveal all the uniqueness of this adventure. 

1998-2018: born of the utopian idea of playing the work Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum for orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) according to his wish, at the foot of the glacier in front of which he liked to compose, the Messiaen festival in the land of Meije has become an essential place of contemporary musical life, bringing together the greatest performers and composers.


A book of more than 300 pages with magnificent photos and images by Colin Samuels, retracing the 20 years of the festival with many testimonies of artists and of festival-goers. 

With Swiss binding and soft cloth cover : a signed copy to the UK or anywhere in Europe for £31 or €35 including shipping. Any other country including USA and Japan: £36 or €40 includes shipping. 

Orders can be made directly from Colin Samuels via Paypal at:


Multiple copies or questions, please email Colin at:


Check out the 'writings and articles' page that includes contributions from Père Jean-Rodolphe Kars ~ Thomas Lacôte ~ Nicholas Armfelt ~ Jeffery Wilson and more.


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Concert Calendar ~
CD New Releases and more!!