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Title:Messiaen's "Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jesus": A historical and pedagogical study
Author(s):Seifert, Charles Ernest
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Colwell, Richard J.
Department / Program:Music
Discipline:Music Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:In the preface to the score of Vingt Regards, Olivier Messiaen states that in the composition he was searching for a language of mystical love. With that preface, the investigator explained how this programmatic piano cycle can be interpreted by the performer and listener. Messiaen's musical language and the representation of its religious symbolism in the score were examined.
Relevant histories, biographies and literature were studied. To determine the historical background of the composition interviews were conducted and letters written. Results of the investigation revealed that Vingt Regards is a reflection of the French culture during the German Occupation of Paris during World War II. Olivier Messiaen's family, particularly his mother, Cecile Sauvage, exerted a profound influence upon his life and his music through her poetry. Other influences evident in Vingt Regards include birdsong, plainsong, Russian Music, Debussy, Hindu rhythms, Greek metrics, Machaut, and the influences of nature.
The religious sources cited by the composer were examined. Because Maurice Toesca's Les Douze Regards was not available for study, he was contacted in Paris. Toesca answered that Les Douze Regards was originally intended to be read on Radio France with appropriate music composed by Messiaen. Instead of composing fifteen minutes of music, Messiaen created a piano work requiring a performance time of over two hours. Consequently the radio program never materialized and Toesca's Les Douze Regards was published in 1957 as La Nativite.
The discussion of the musical style of Vingt Regards includes an exposition of statements by Yvonne Loriod. Significant stylistic features of Vingt Regards include innovative rhythmic techniques of agrandissement asymetriques, valeurs progressivement acclellerees ou ralienties, nonretrogradable rhythms adapted from Hindu deci-talas, the use of Greek rhythms and the revival of canonic rhythms used by fourteenth century composers. Synthetic scales, called "modes of limited transpositions" are the basis of melody and harmony in the piano cycle. Superscriptions in the score referring to various instruments evoke images of piano timbre for the composer.
A "Dictionary of Symbols" and the cyclical theme, Theme de Dieu, is described in three regards. In the conclusion the need to incorporate the role of imagination in interpreting is presented with references to John Dewey's writings.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Seifert, Charles Ernest
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI8924941
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI8924941

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