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.
Free admission
This year is the 110th anniversary of the birth of the great theorist, organist, 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 Onassis Stegi 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.

Τwo masterclasses are organised in the context of this tribute. Click here to read more and submit your participation.


20:30 | Piano Recital: Florent Boffard 
Olivier Messiaen: “Le Courlis cendré”
Tristan Murail: “La Mandragore”
Olivier Messiaen: “L’Alouette lulu”
George Benjamin: “Shadowlines”
Olivier Messiaen: “Le Loriot”

10:00-13:00 & 15:00-18:00 | Piano & Chambre Music Μasterclass: Florent Boffard on Olivier Messiaen and students (in English, no translation available) 

20:30 | Lecture: Alain Louvier “Messiaen and the Nature concert” (in French with Greek subtitles)

10:00-13:00 | Analysis Masterclass: Alain Louvier
Analysis of the Messiaen pieces “Regard des Anges” [Contemplation of the Angels] (from the work Vingt Regards sur l’enfant-Jésus [Twenty Contemplations on the Infant Jesus]) for piano solo, “La Chouette hulotte” (from the Catalogue d'oiseaux) for piano solo, and “Couleurs de la Cité Céleste” for orchestra (in French with sequential translation).

15:00-18:00 | Composition Masterclass: Alain Louvier
Masterclass on selected participants’ pieces, which will be inspired by elements that appear in Messiaen’s oeuvre (in French with sequential translation)

20:30 | Athens Conservatoire teachers’ concert, with the participation of Alain Louvier and Marie-Paule Siruguet (piano four hands), featuring works by Olivier Messiaen, Gérard Grisey, François-Bernard Mâche, Alain Louvier, and George Kouroupos.  

16:30-18:00 | Round Table Discussion: “The Interpretation of Olivier Messiaen’s works”, with Florent Boffard and Greek pianists who include works by Messiaen in their repertoire. Moderation: Lorenda Ramou (in English, no translation available).

19:00 | François-Bernard Mâche, George Kouroupos, and Alain Louvier discuss their study years with Messiaen (in Greek and French with sequential translation).

20:30 | Athens Conservatoire students’ and masterclass participants’ concert, featuring works by Messiaen, Messiaen’s students, and young composers. 

All events will be held in the “Aris Garoufallis” Hall of the Athens Conservatoire, except for the round table discussion scheduled on Thursday, 7 March (16:30–18:00), which will take place in room 35.


Tribute curation: Nikos Athineos, Lorenda Ramou

The tribute is made possible through a collaboration between the Athens Conservatoire, the Onassis Stegi, the French Institute in Athens, and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris.

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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 colour analogies, the incorporation of transcriptions of birdsong, intricate orchestration and the use of rare instruments (such as the ondes Martenot).

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 (“The Ascension”, “Turangalîla-Symphony”) and the opera “Saint Francis of Assisi”. 

Alain Louvier (born 1945) studied Mathematics in parallel with his studies at the Paris Conservatoire under Olivier Messiaen 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 Paris Conservatoire (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 at the Paris Conservatoire, 1991–2009, before returning to the Conservatoire 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 included premières of works by Stockhausen, Scelsi, Grisey, Murail, Lévinas, Mantovani and others. As a composer, he introduced a special graphic notation along with extended performance techniques into his piano works from1964 onwards. He is interested in the use of mathematical concepts and micro-intervals in his compositions. His orchestral works combine a personal lyricism with the heritage of French music. 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.


Open Call for participation in two masterclasses in the context of the Olivier Messiaen tribute

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