Commission and Omission: The Canon According to Messiaen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter examines the nature of the musical canon espoused by Messiaen. It argues that his evolutionary approach to music history was especially potent, offering his postwar Paris Conservatoire student composers a past?present perspective, which legitimized borrowing to transform anew, while firmly rejecting neoclassicism. Evidence for which figures Messiaen saw as important is collected from writings, speeches, teachings and informal anecdotes; but, despite such varied sources, the impression remains that composers like Verdi, Brahms, Mahler, Britten or Steve Reich simply did not exist. The result was a highly influential narrative of progressive musical thought, which, through Messiaen?s students, gained wide currency in the decades after the Second World War as the authorized version of musical history. In addition, the chapter undertakes a critical examination of notions of influence and non-influence, inclusion and exclusion, drawing on two main case studies: Pierre Boulez as present; Gustav Mahler as absent.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHistorical Interplay in French Music and Culture, 1860-1960
    EditorsDeborah Mawer
    Place of PublicationLondon and New York
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Print)9781472474759
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 2018


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