MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Happy Palindrome Day

It’s taken a little over a thousand years to arrive at today’s calendrical palindrome: 02-02-2020. Last time was 11-11-1111–909 years ago (using the eight-digit format).

The French composer Olivier Messiaen found special significance in the palindrome. When looking at the rhythmic parameter, for example, he developed structures based on “non-retrogradable rhythms,” as he termed them.

The German musicologist Siglind Bruhn explores the implications for Messiaen of palindromic structures: “Rhythmic palindromes are interesting above all for their spiritual significance. In the realm of human experience, the irreversibility that defines all acts, be they physical or linguistic, the course of a day or a life, and the expected execution of a plan, are of a quality intrinsically different from reminiscences, regrets, nostalgia, and other acts or feelings turned toward the past.”

from Messiaen’s Contemplations of Covenant and Incarnation

Filed under: miscellaneous, Olivier Messiaen

Turangalîla at Juilliard

Here’s my Juilliard Journal story for the upcoming performance of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie with David Robertson:

Turangalîla is the work of my life,” Olivier Messiaen wrote in a letter to a young Leonard Bernstein, who was preparing to conduct the world premiere near the end of 1949. Messiaen thanked him in advance for agreeing to take on this formidable challenge, “since I know (having seen you in The Rite of Spring) that you will do it in a way that is marvelous and brilliant.”

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Filed under: Juilliard, Olivier Messiaen

At Seattle Symphony, Cosmic Radiation from Beethoven and Messiaen

sso

The Seattle Symphony, with guest musicians and vocalists, perform works by Messiaen and Beethoven this weekend. (Brandon Patoc)

My Seattle Times review:

In their first program of the new year, Ludovic Morlot, the Seattle Symphony and guests offer an inspired pairing of Beethoven’s immortal Ninth and the spiritually attuned music of Olivier Messiaen.

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Filed under: Beethoven, Olivier Messiaen, review, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times

A Messiaenic Christmas

Filed under: Christmas, Olivier Messiaen

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