A tribute to Olivier Messiaen / ONASSIS CULTURAL CENTRE

A tribute to Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen's multifaceted contributions to 20th-century music for four full days at the Athens Conservatoire.

4-7 MAR 2019
Athens Conservatoire
A tribute with concerts, lectures, classes open to instrumentalists and composers, and guest artists including two outstanding figures from the French music scene: the pianist Florent Boffard and the composer Alain Louvier.
This year is the 110th anniversary of the birth of the great theorist, musician, composer and teacher Olivier Messiaen, whose work occupies a central place in the music of the 20th century. Intent on enhancing its students' familiarity with the modern and contemporary repertoire, the Athens Conservatoire has joined forces with the OCC to stage an important tribute to Olivier Messiaen. 

His pioneering work and inspired teaching will be spotlit with the help of the pianist Florent Boffard, who studied under Yvonne Loriod, Messiaen's wife and the ideal performer of his works, and the composer Alain Louvier, who, along with many of the key composers of the 20th century, studied under Messiaen.


All the events will be held at the Athens Conservatoire. 
The full programme will be announced shortly.

With the support of the French Institute in Greece, and in collaboration with the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse.

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Olivier Messiaen (Avignon 1918—Clichy 1992) is one of the most important composers of the 20th century. An organist and pianist, but also an ornithologist, his inspired teaching at the Paris Conservatoire earned him worldwide acclaim. Composers including Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, Gerard Grisey, Tristan Murail and György Kurtág studied under him. Messiaen developed a personal musical idiom based on rhythms from Indian music and the metre of ancient Greek music, a complete harmonic system which he combined with chromaticism, the incorporation of transcriptions of birdsong, intricate orchestration and the use of rare instruments (such as the ondes Martinot).

Many of his works are intensely religious in nature, since his creativity was fuelled in part by his Catholic faith. He composed major cycles for solo piano (“20 gazes on the infant Jesus”, “Catalogue of birds”) and organ (“Pentecost Mass”, “Organ book”), chamber music (“Quartet for the end of time”, “The blackbird”), works for voice (“Poems for Mi”, “Songs of earth and sky”, “Harawi”), large-scale orchestral works (“Turangalîla-Symphonie”) and the opera “Saint Francis of Assisi”. 

Alain Louvier (born 1945) studied Mathematics in parallel with his studies at the Paris Conservatoire National under Olivier Messian and Manuel Rosenthal. He graduated with nine first prizes, and won the French Institute's Grand Prix de Rome. He is also the recipient of the Honegger (1975), Paul Gilson (1981) and Georges Enesco (SACEM, 1986) awards. 

Alongside his career as a composer and conductor, he served as director of the Conservatoire of Boulogne-Billancourt (1972–1986) and later the Supreme National Conservatory of Paris (1986–1991). During his tenure, the Conservatoire created several new departments and made the move to the Cité de la Musique. He led the Music Analysis course in Paris, 1991–2009, before returning to the Conservatory of Boulogne-Billancourt in 2009 to resume his leadership role.

As a composer, his collaboration with the Ensemble de l'Itinéraire has been significant and incorporated premières of works by Stockhausen, Scelsi, Grisey, Murail, Lévinas, Mantovani and others. As a composer, he introduced a special graphic syntax along with unique performance techniques into his piano works after 1964. He is interested in the use of mathematical concepts and micro-intervals in his compositions. His orchestral works combine a personal lyricism with the musical heritage of France. alain-louvier.com

Florent Boffard entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of 12, where he studied under Yvonne Loriod. He has performed at leading festivals (Salzburg, Berlin, Bath, Aldeburgh, La Roque d’Anthéron etc.) under the baton of Pierre Boulez, Simon Rattle, Leon Fleisher and Peter Eötvös. He has also played with the Orchestre National de Lyon, the Philharmonisches Orchester Freiburg, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. As a soloist with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, 1988–1999, he worked with the foremost composers of our time and premièred pieces by Boulez, Donatoni, Ligeti and others.

He stages workshops and concert presentations in which he seeks to enhance the public's understanding of the contemporary repertoire. He also wrote and presented the film “Schoenberg, le malentendu” to accompany his highly-praised recording of Schoenberg’s piano works. His other recordings include works by Fauré, Debussy, Bartók, Boulez and Berio. In 2001, the Forberg-Schneider Foundation (Munich) awarded Florent Boffard its Belmont Prize for his commitment to contemporary music. He has taught at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon and at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart. Since 2016, he has taught piano at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris.

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