Olivier Messiaen stands as one of the most influential composers of the twentieth century and among the foremost religious artists of any era. When he died in 1992, the prevailing image was of a deeply religious man whose only sources of inspiration were God and Nature, and of a composer whose music progressed along an entirely individual path, impervious to contemporaneous events and the whims both of his fellow artists and the critics. The Life of Messiaen paints a more nuanced picture of the man and the musician, peering behind Messiaen's public persona to examine the private difficulties and creative struggles that were the true backdrop to many of his greatest achievements. Based upon the latest research, including previously overlooked sources, this book provides an excellent introduction to Messiaen's life and work, presenting a fascinating new perspective of a man whose story is more remarkable than the myths surrounding it.
'The best parts of this absorbing book are those where Dingle relates the music to Messiaen's religious faith and to the many difficulties he faced during his life ... many of the author's judgments on the music itself have made me want to go back and listen to works I know - or thought I knew.' BBC Music Magazine 'Christopher Dingle is a seasoned Messiaen insider with a good feel for narrative pacing, and for how much speculation can be risked alongside authentic documentary material.' Gramophone '... this neatly assembled and marvellously readable volume in the Cambridge Musical lives series. ... surprises with several new investigative strands and more than satisfies with a cogent and entertaining commentary ... a thoroughly researched, beautifully executed display if lightly-handled scholarship that makes one feel simultaneously admiring of such an all too rare facility and thoroughly envious of it.' Classical Music