Commission and Omission: The Canon According to Messiaen

Dingle, Christopher (2018) Commission and Omission: The Canon According to Messiaen. In: Historical Interplay in French Music and Culture, 1860-1960. Routledge, London and New York, pp. 214-232. ISBN 9781472474759

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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.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: W300 Music
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Conservatoire
Depositing User: Christopher Dingle
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2017 21:15
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2018 10:05

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