google2df0dee9a57c11db.html French composer Messiaen | Olivier Messiaen 20th Century music

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)


© 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.

25th March 2020
It is with great sadness and sorrow that we report the passing of  Jennifer Bate . British organist and favoured Messiaen interpreter. There is more information and obituary Here

Jennifer’s funeral took place at the St Marylebone Crematorium, East Finchley, UK. on Tuesday 14th April at 2.00 pm  BST.


Due to coronavirus restrictions, a maximum of 10 people were present, so the funeral directors have made a webcast available, which can be viewed or downloaded within the following 28 days.  Instructions on how to access this here. Order of service here.

A celebratory memorial service is proposed and will take place when restrictions are lifted.

It is also with sadness that we report the passing of Pascal Emmanuel Messiaen (b.1937) the only son of Olivier and Claire Delbos (Messiaen's first wife). Pascal passed away on 31st January 2020 and is survived by his wife Josette who he married in 1958.

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:



In the Press

Reviews of events, concerts, books & CDs.
Any contributions to this page would be welcome. So if you would like to submit a review of any Messiaen related feature please get in touch.
Contact Us

Events etc.


Concert Calendar ~
CD New Releases and more!!

© 2019 Malcolm Ball