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Trompette d'un ange secret: Olivier Messiæn and the culture of ecstasy

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Olivier Messiæn was perhaps the last great figure in that post revolutionary resurgence of Catholic art heralded by Chateaubriand and brought to its height in its aftermath of the France Prussian War. Aside from the revival of the liturgy carried out by Dom Guéranger and his followers at Solesmes the key roles in this movement were played by Catholic laymen for its most part with encyclopaedic interests and a surprising knowledge of the world and its problems. Thus Messiæn's fascination with time, often attributed to a heterodox modernism has its roots in Maritain's accomodation of Bergson's concept of durée with his existentialist reading of St. Thomas. Using an essentially philological method to supplement the composer's public statements Robin Freeman places Messiæn's œuvre in a context of which those who have viewed it as a purely musical phenomenon may have been unaware.
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Keywords: Catholic; Franciscan; Messiæn; birdsong; plainchant; symbolism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1996

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