A CHRONOLOGICAL VIEW OF WESTERN MUSIC HISTORY IN THE CONTEXT OF WORLD EVENTS

Olivier Messiaen

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December 10, 1908: Midnight. Olivier Eugène Prosper Charles Messiaen is born at 20 boulevard Sixte Isnard in Avignon, Republic of France, first of two children born to Pierre Messiaen, an English teacher and Shakespeare scholar, and Cécile Sauvage, a poet.
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December 17, 1927: Olivier Messiaen (19) passes an examination to officially enter the class of Marcel Dupré at the Conservatoire.
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May 31, 1929: Olivier Messiaen (20) wins the first prize in organ at the Paris Conservatoire.
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September 15, 1929: Olivier Messiaen (20) gives his first public recital on organ, in Tencin near Grenoble.
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January 22, 1930: Le Banquet eucharistique for orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (21) is performed for the first time, at the Paris Conservatoire. It is identified in the program as Le Banquet céleste.
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January 28, 1930: Préludes for piano by Olivier Messiaen (21) are performed for the first time, privately in Paris by the composer. See 1 March 1930.
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February 20, 1930: Olivier Messiaen (21) gives his first public recital in Paris, playing organ at the Trinité. Here he gives the first performance of his Diptyque: Essai sur la vie terrestre et l’éternité bienheureuse.
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March 1, 1930: Préludes for piano by Olivier Messiaen (21) are performed publicly for the first time, in Salle Erard, Paris. See 28 January 1930.
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May 2, 1930: Olivier Messiaen (21) is among several candidates sequestered at the Fontainebleau Palace for the beginning of the Prix de Rome competition.
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May 10, 1930: The candidates for the Prix de Rome are judged in the first round of the competition. Olivier Messiaen (21) is allowed to proceed to the next round. However, he will ultimately not receive an award.
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June 23, 1930: Olivier Messiaen (21) receives the Premier Prix in composition at the Paris Conservatoire.
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February 14, 1931: Trois mélodies for voice and piano by Olivier Messiaen (22) to words of the composer and Cécile Sauvage (his mother) are performed for the first time, in Paris the composer at the keyboard.
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February 19, 1931: Olivier Messiaen (22) makes his performing debut at the organ of Église de la Trinité, Paris.
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February 19, 1931: The meditation symphonique Les offrandes oubliées for orchestra, by Olivier Messiaen (22), is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris.
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March 25, 1931: Suite en quatuor op. 55 for flute, violin, viola, and piano by Charles Koechlin (63) is performed for the first time, in Salle de l’École Normale, Paris. Also premiered is La mort du nombre for soprano, tenor, violin, and piano by Olivier Messiaen (22) to his own words, the composer at the keyboard.
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April 30, 1931: The first round of the Prix de Rome competition opens. Among the candidates is Olivier Messiaen (22) on his second try.
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May 9, 1931: The first round of the Prix de Rome competition is judged. Olivier Messiaen (22) is among those allowed to proceed to the second round.
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July 4, 1931: L’Ensorceleuse, a cantata by Olivier Messiaen (22) to words of Arosa, is performed for the first time, at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Paris, the composer at the piano. This is the work produced by Messiaen for his second attempt at the Prix de Rome. He does not succeed.
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July 7, 1931: Olivier Messiaen (22) applies for the position of organist at L’Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris. Among those offering support on his application are Charles-Marie Widor and Marcel Dupré.
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September 7, 1931: Olivier Messiaen (22) is offered the position of organist at L’Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris. He will accept.
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June 22, 1932: Olivier Messiaen (23) marries the composer and violinist Louise Justine (Claire) Delbos, daughter of a Sorbonne professor, in the church of Saint-Louis-en-l’Île, in the Fourth Arrondissement, Paris.
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November 22, 1932: Thème et variations for violin and piano by Olivier Messiaen (23) is performed for the first time, in Salle Debussy, Paris, by the composer and his wife.
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February 8, 1933: Fantaisie burlesque for piano by Olivier Messiaen (24) is performed for the first time, at École Normale de musique, Paris.
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February 12, 1933: Le Tombeau resplendissant for orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (24) is performed for the first time, in Salle Pleyel, Paris.
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March 23, 1933: Hymne au Saint-Sacrement for orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (24) is performed for the first time, in Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris.
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January 29, 1935: L’Ascension, Quatre Méditations symphoniques for organ by Olivier Messiaen (26) is performed for the first time, in the church of Saint-Antoine-des-Quinze-Vingts, Paris by the composer. See 9 February 1935.
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February 9, 1935: L’Ascension, Quatre Méditations symphoniques for orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (26) is performed for the first time, in Paris. See 29 January 1935.
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April 8, 1935: Works for keyboard instruments by Charles Koechlin (67) are performed for the first time, at the Schola cantorum, Paris: Choral en fa mineur op.90bis for organ, the second and third of the Trois réalisations op.107/1 for organ, and seven of the twelve movements of L’ancienne maison de campagne op.124 for piano. Olivier Messiaen (26) is the organist. See 18 February 1939 and 1 July 1947.
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May 28, 1935: Marcel Dupré and Olivier Messiaen (26) give a recital on the newly expanded organ at the Trinité, Paris. Messiaen premieres his Le Banquet céleste.
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December 12, 1935: La Spirale gives its first concert at the Schola Cantorum, Paris. It is a group dedicated to the propagation of contemporary French music. As part of this first outing, Olivier Messiaen (27) performs the organ version of his L’Ascension.
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February 27, 1936: La Nativité du Seigneur for organ by Olivier Messiaen (27) is performed completely for the first time, in Église de la Sainte-Trinité, Paris. The nine movements are shared by three organists. The composer will later consider this a turning point in his career. “I produced the proof...that it was possible to write music for the organ other than in a post-Franckist aesthetic.”
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March 5, 1936: Several songs by Charles Ives (61) are performed for the first time, in the concert hall of the Schola Cantorum, Paris: The Innate, Resolution, and Majority, all to his own words, Requiem to words of Stevenson, and Paracelsus to words of Browning. Olivier Messiaen (27) is at the piano.
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April 25, 1936: Pièce pour le Tombeau de Paul Dukas for piano by Olivier Messiaen (27) is performed for the first time, at École Normale de Musique, Paris. This is one of a collection of piano pieces by nine composers in memory of Dukas (†0).
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June 3, 1936: This date marks the first appearance of La jeune France, a group formed by Olivier Messiaen (27) and three others to oppose Neo-Classicism, balance, and order. Orchestral music is performed at the Salle Gaveau featuring the works of Messiaen, Yves Baudrier, Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur, and André Jolivet.
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October 16, 1936: The first performance of an orchestral work by Olivier Messiaen (27) outside of France takes place in Symphony Hall, Boston when Les Offrandres oublieés is conducted by Serge Koussevitzky.
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April 28, 1937: Poèmes pour Mi, a song cycle for voice and piano by Olivier Messiaen (28) to his own words, is performed for the first time, in the Salle des Concerts de la Schola Cantorum in Paris the composer at the piano.
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July 25, 1937: Fête des belles eaux for six ondes martenots by Olivier Messiaen (28) is performed for the first time, on the banks of the River Seine, Paris as part of the Exposition Internationale des Arts et des Techniques appliqués à la vie moderne.
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January 23, 1939: Chants de terre et de ciel, a cycle for soprano and piano by Olivier Messiaen (30) to his own words, is performed for the first time, in Paris, the composer at the piano. It is listed in the program as Prismes: Six poèmes d’Olivier Messiaen.
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June 28, 1939: Olivier Messiaen (30) departs Paris for his summer holiday in Petichet. Here he will compose Les corps glorieux. He will finish it on the day he is called up into the army.
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January 15, 1941: Using an out of tune piano with atrocious touch, Olivier Messiaen (32) (wearing a Czech uniform and wooden shoes) and three fellow prisoners (Étienne Pasquier, Henri Akoka, and Jean Le Boulaire) perform the world premiere of his Quatuor pour la fin du temps in Stalag 8-A near Görlitz, Silesia. He wrote the quartet for the four instruments and musicians that he had available: clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. Of the audience of 5,000 prisoners the composer will say: “Never have I been heard with as much attention and understanding.”
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February 10, 1941: Olivier Messiaen (32) departs Stalag VIIa on a repatriation train to a camp on the border of Germany and Switzerland.
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February 16, 1941: Olivier Messiaen (32) arrives at a camp in Sathonay, near Lyon. He is demobilized on arrival. (but he will probably remain a few weeks in quarantine)
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March 10, 1941: Olivier Messiaen (32) writes from Neussargues, Cantal that he is no longer a prisoner of war and is now with his wife and son.
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April 17, 1941: Olivier Messiaen (32) is appointed Professor of Harmony at the Paris Conservatoire.
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May 7, 1941: Olivier Messiaen (32) enters into duties as Professor of Harmony at the Paris Conservatoire. In his first class is a young pianist named Yvonne Loriod.
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May 11, 1941: A pageant in celebration of the life of Jeanne d’Arc in ten tableaux by Pierre Schaeffer (30) and Pierre Barbier is performed simultaneously throughout Vichy France. The music is a collection of composers including Olivier Messiaen (32) and his Choeurs pour une Jeanne d’Arc for chorus. 35,000 people see it in Lyon, 25,000 in Marseille, and 20,000 in Toulouse.
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June 24, 1941: At a concert in the Théâtre des Mathurins celebrating the return of the composer to Paris from a prisoner-of-war camp, Quatuor pour la fin du temps by Olivier Messiaen (32) is given its Paris premiere. The composer is at the piano and the cellist of 15 January, Étienne Pasquier, also performs. Turning pages for Messiaen is one of his students, Yvonne Loriod. See 15 January 1941.
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December 28, 1941: Olivier Messiaen (33) gives the first public performance of two movements from Les corps glorieux for organ, at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris. See 15 November 1943.
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July 1, 1942: Music for Ondes Martenot for Fabre’s play Dieu est innocent by Olivier Messiaen (33) is performed for the first time, in Paris.
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December 8, 1942: Roger Désormière conducts the Orchestre Pierné in Paris in the first recording of any music by Olivier Messiaen (33).
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May 10, 1943: Visions de l’Amen for two pianos by Olivier Messiaen (34) is performed for the first time, by Yvonne Loriod and the composer, in the Gallerie Charpentier, Paris. It is Ms. Loriod’s first move up from page-turner to musical collaborator with Messiaen. The invited audience contains the most important luminaries of occupied Paris, including Francis Poulenc (44), Paul Valéry, Jean Cocteau, Roland-Manuel, Pierre Boulez (18), and Christian Dior.
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November 15, 1943: Les corps glorieux for organ by Olivier Messiaen (34) is performed for the first time, at Église de la Sainte-Trinité, Paris, the composer at the keyboard. See 28 December 1941.
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November 29, 1943: Olivier Messiaen (34) begins giving private harmony classes at the home of Guy Bernard-Delapierre in Paris.
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June 28, 1944: Pierre Boulez (19) visits Olivier Messiaen (35) for the first time, in Paris.
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September 11, 1944: Yvonne Loriod plays Olivier Messiaen’s (35) Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus for piano at the home of Guy Bernard-Delapierre in Paris. Messiaen completed the work two days ago. See 26 March 1945.
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December 8, 1944: Pierre Boulez (19) attends a class given by Olivier Messiaen (35) at the home of Guy Bernard-Delapierre in Paris.
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February 2, 1945: At the Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Olivier Messiaen (36) improvises at the organ. His improvisations are recorded for use as incidental music for Fabre’s play Tristan et Yseult. See 22 February 1945.
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February 22, 1945: The organ music improvised by Olivier Messiaen (36) on 2 February is used for the first time, in the production of Fabre’s play Tristan et Yseult in the Théâtre Édouard VII, Paris.
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March 26, 1945: Vingt regards sur l’enfant Jesus for piano by Olivier Messiaen (36) is performed for the first time, in the Salle Gaveau, Paris. Critics are strongly divided.
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March 27, 1945: Francis Poulenc (46) writes to Darius Milhaud (52) in the United States. “The ascension of Messiaen (36) has been the most significant musical event. You will, in fact, find a fanatical sect surrounding this musician who, for all the impossible literary jargon, is nevertheless remarkable.”
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April 21, 1945: Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine for female chorus, piano, ondes martenot, five percussionists, and strings by Olivier Messiaen (36) to his own words is performed for the first time, in Salle de l'Ancien Conservatoire, Paris. The work is an immediate success with the public but causes a storm of protest in the press. Also premiered is Un Soir de Neige, a chamber cantata by Francis Poulenc (46) to words of Eluard, and Darius Milhaud's (52) Quatrains valaisans for chorus to words of Rilke. Poulenc finds Messiaen’s work “marvelous.”
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November 2, 1945: Chant des déportés for chorus and orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (36) to his own words is performed for the first time, in Palais de Chaillot, Paris. The piano part is played by Pierre Boulez (20). This work was composed in memory of those deported to their deaths in Germany.
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June 24, 1946: Harawi: chant d’amour et de la mort for soprano and piano by Olivier Messiaen (37) to his own words, is performed for the first time, in Mâcon the composer at the keyboard.
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February 14, 1948: A public rehearsal of Trois Tâla by Olivier Messiaen (39) takes place at the Paris Conservatoire. Afterwards, Pierre Boulez (22) goes backstage and tells his teacher Messiaen that the piece makes him want to vomit. The relationship between the two will be cool for a few years.
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February 15, 1948: Movements 3, 4, and 5 of Turangalila-Symphonie by Olivier Messiaen (39) are performed for the first time, under the name Trois Tâla, at the Paris Conservatoire. See 2 December 1949.
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April 19, 1948: The first All-Union congress of Soviet Composers meets in Moscow. They condemn Benjamin Britten (34), Gian-Carlo Menotti (36), and Olivier Messiaen (39) as being “impregnated with extreme subjectivism, mysticism, and disgusting facetiousness.”  Of those condemned on 10 February, only Dmitry Shostakovich (41) and Vano Muradeli attend the entire congress.  Sergey Prokofiev (56) and Aram Khachaturian (44) are there for the first day only.
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June 7, 1949: At the invitation of Olivier Messiaen (40), to whom he had been introduced by Pierre Boulez (24), John Cage (36) performs his Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano to Messiaen’s students at the Salle Gounod of the Paris Conservatoire.
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June 27, 1949: Olivier Messiaen (40) sails from Le Havre aboard the De Grasse on his first trip to the United States.
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July 6, 1949: Olivier Messiaen (40) arrives in New York aboard the De Grasse and goes to Tanglewood the same day. At Tanglewood he will teach composition and analysis. Among his students is Easley Blackwood (16).
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August 27, 1949: Olivier Messiaen (40) reaches Le Havre aboard the Île de France after spending almost two months at Tanglewood.
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November 16, 1949: Olivier Messiaen (40) and Yvonne Loriod arrive in New York aboard the Île de France for concertizing and the premiere of Turangalîla.
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November 19, 1949: Olivier Messiaen (40), Yvonne Loriod, and Maurice and Ginette Martenot travel from New York to Boston for the premiere of Turangalîla-symphonie. While in the area he visits the harmony class of Walter Piston (55) at Harvard University and gives an analysis of the work.
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November 28, 1949: NBC broadcasts a 30-minute program of Leonard Bernstein (31) rehearsing the Boston Symphony Orchestra in preparation for the premiere of Olivier Messiaen’s (40) Turangalîla-symphonie.
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December 2, 1949: Turangalîla-symphonie for piano, ondes martenot, and orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (40) is performed for the first time, in Symphony Hall, Boston conducted by Leonard Bernstein (31) in the presence of the composer and Maurice Martenot. Yvonne Loriod plays the piano part and Ginette Martenot (sister of the inventor) plays the Ondes Martenot. See 15 February 1948.
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December 14, 1949: The night before he returns home, Olivier Messiaen (41) has dinner with Edgard Varèse and his wife in Varèse’s (65) New York apartment.
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December 22, 1949: Olivier Messiaen (41) arrives back in Cherbourg aboard the Queen Mary after his second trip to the United States.
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June 15, 1950: Cinq rechants for twelve solo voices by Olivier Messiaen (41) to his own words is performed for the first time, in Paris.
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July 25, 1950: The European premiere of Olivier Messiaen’s (39) Turangalîla-Symphonie takes place in Aix-en-Provence. At the conclusion, members of the audience with differing opinions set upon each other. Arthur Honegger (58) and Roland-Manuel mix it up, as do Francis Poulenc (51) and Georges Auric.
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November 6, 1950: Quatre études de rythme for piano by Olivier Messiaen (41) are performed for the first time, in Tunis, the composer at the keyboard.
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May 13, 1951: At least two movements of the Messe de la Pentecôte for organ by Olivier Messiaen (42) are performed for the first time, at the Trinité, Paris by the composer.
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May 30, 1951: Olivier Messiaen (42) records his newly completed Quatre Études de rythme. It is the only recording of the composer as solo pianist.
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January 8, 1952: Karlheinz Stockhausen (23) arrives in Paris from Hamburg. Here he will work on a commission from Donaueschingen and study with Darius Milhaud (59) and Olivier Messiaen (43).
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May 4, 1952: Structures Ia for two pianos by Pierre Boulez (27) is performed for the first time, in the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, by the composer and Olivier Messiaen (43). The hall is full, the audience uneasy. Some violence occurs. Igor Stravinsky (69) is present and is not impressed. See 13 November 1953.
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May 14, 1952: Olivier Messiaen (43) begins his notebooks of birdsong in the forest of St.-Germain-en-Laye. They will eventually number over 200.
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May 21, 1952: Timbres-Durées, musique concrète for tape by Olivier Messiaen (43) and Pierre Henry (24), is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of French Radio originating in the Salle de l’Ancien Conservatoire, Paris.
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April 23, 1953: Livre d’orgue for organ by Olivier Messiaen (43) is performed for the first time, for the inauguration of the organ in Villa Berg, Stuttgart by the composer.
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July 24, 1953: Olivier Messiaen (44) and Bruno Maderna (33) take part in a panel discussion on “Positions and Possibilities in New Music Today” at Darmstadt.
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October 11, 1953: Le Réveil des Oiseaux for piano and orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (44) is performed for the first time, in the Stadthalle, Donaueschingen. The response is tepid.
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November 19, 1953: Due to her erratic behavior, Oliver Messiaen (44) brings his wife to Salpetrière Hospital in Paris where she is admitted. It is well-known for treating psychiatric cases.
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December 18, 1953: Olivier Messiaen (45) places his wife in a nursing home in La Varenne. She has been diagnosed with “incurable cerebral atrophy.”
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February 23, 1954: Olivier Messiaen’s (45) piano work Cantéyodjayâ is performed for the first time, in Paris.
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July 6, 1954: Iannis Xenakis (32) attends a class given by Olivier Messiaen (45) for the last time.
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September 23, 1954: Through the intercession of Olivier Messiaen (45), Iannis Xenakis (32) meets Pierre Schaeffer (44) in Paris.
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March 21, 1955: On the 270th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach, Olivier Messiaen (46) plays the French premiere of his Livre d’orgue at the Trinité, Paris. The organizer of the concert, Pierre Boulez (29), expected only about 50 people to attend and planned for them to enter through a small door on the side of the church. A large number of people showed up and Messiaen gains admittance to the building only with great difficulty. Among those taking part in the crush is the Paris chief of police, there purely as a music lover.
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March 10, 1956: Oiseaux exotiques for piano and chamber orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (47) is performed for the first time, in Petit Théâtre Marigny, Paris.
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September 13, 1958: Olivier Messiaen (49) lectures at the Philips Pavilion in Brussels.
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April 15, 1959: Catalogue des Oiseaux for piano by Olivier Messiaen (50) is performed for the first time, in the Salle Gaveau, Paris.
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April 22, 1959: The composer and violinist Claire Delbos, wife of Olivier Messiaen (50), dies in a nursing home in La Varenne.
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September 23, 1959: Herbert von Karajan conducts a performance of Olivier Messiaen’s (50) Réveil des oiseaux in Berlin, in the presence of the composer. Karajan admits he does not understand the music and conducts without a score. It is not well received by the audience. Mustering the courage to go backstage, the composer finds the conductor elated. He hugs Messiaen and says “Thank you--at last, thanks to you, my first scandal!”
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October 16, 1960: Two new works are performed for the first time, in Donaueschingen: Anaklasis for strings and percussion by Krzysztof Penderecki (26) and Chronochromie for orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (51). The audience requires that Anaklasis be encored.
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April 25, 1961: Two years, almost to the day, after the death of his wife, Olivier Messiaen (52) and his long time collaborator Yvonne Loriod, decide to marry.
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July 1, 1961: Olivier Messiaen (52) marries his second wife, the pianist Yvonne Loriod, in the Mairie of the 18th arrondissement, Paris.
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July 3, 1961: The religious wedding ceremony for Olivier Messiaen (52) and Yvonne Loriod takes place in Église Sainte-Geneviève-des-Grandes-Carrières, Paris. The number of those attending is small because the couple wish to keep their marriage a secret.
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February 13, 1962: The Paris premiere of Olivier Messiaen’s (53) Chronochromie for orchestra at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées causes violent disagreement in the audience. The composer himself is almost accosted by a furious music lover.
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June 19, 1962: Olivier Messiaen (53) leaves France on his first trip to Japan.
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June 17, 1963: Olivier Messiaen (54) and his wife arrive in Montevideo on a trip to Buenos Aires. The plane overshoots the runway and the passengers go through an emergency evacuation. No one is hurt.
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October 30, 1963: Sept haïkaï for piano, 13 winds, six percussionists, and eight violins by Olivier Messiaen (54) is performed for the first time, at the Odéon, Paris by Pierre Boulez (38) and Yvonne Loriod.
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October 17, 1964: Couleurs de la cité céleste for piano, 13 winds, and percussion by Olivier Messiaen (55) is performed for the first time, in the Stadthalle, Donaueschingen under the direction of Pierre Boulez (39).
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March 30, 1965: Olivier Messiaen (56) and his wife Yvonne Loriod have lunch in the Elysée Palace with President Charles de Gaulle and Minister of Culture André Malraux. Messiaen recently completed Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, a commission from the Ministry of Culture.
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May 7, 1965: Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum for woodwinds, brass, and percussion by Olivier Messiaen (56), is performed for the first time, in Sainte-Chapelle, Paris. On the 20th anniversary of the end of World War II, it is part of a commemoration for the dead of both world wars. See 20 June 1965.
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June 20, 1965: Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum for woodwinds, brass, and percussion by Olivier Messiaen (56), is performed publicly for the first time, in Chartres Cathedral in the presence of President Charles de Gaulle. See 7 May 1965.
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November 23, 1967: At a service commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, Olivier Messiaen (58) improvises at the organ. These improvisations will become the basis of Méditations sur la mystère de la Sainte Trinité.
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December 20, 1967: Olivier Messiaen (59) succeeds to the Institute.
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May 10, 1968: An article appears in Le Figaro in which the choreographer Hubert Devillez says he plans to sue Olivier Messiaen (59) because the composer worked with him on a scenario to a ballet on Turangalîla. A different ballet, on the same music, is presently in rehearsal.
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May 15, 1968: Olivier Messiaen (59) is formally installed in the Académie des Beaux-Arts of the French Institute.
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June 29, 1968: Olivier Messiaen (59) writes that the recent events in France have greatly disrupted his work on La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ.
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June 7, 1969: La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ for chorus, piano, cello, flute, clarinet, vibraphone, marimba, xylorimba, and orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (60) to words of the Bible, Missal, and St. Thomas Aquinas, is performed for the first time, in the Coliseu, Lisbon. The work was commissioned in memory of the millionaire Calouste Gulbenkian. The cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich, is roused from his sick bed (food poisoning) by the organizer Maria Madalena de Azeredo Perdigão and forced to the concert. Despite the late start, the applause at the end lasts 30 minutes.
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June 25, 1971: Queen Juliana of the Netherlands confers the Erasmus Prize upon Olivier Messiaen (62) in Amsterdam.
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September 28, 1971: Olivier Messiaen (62) and his wife are invited to dinner with President Pompidou at the Elysée Palace. At the end of the meal, Rolf Liebermann, general manager of the Paris Opéra, announces, “Messiaen, you will write an opera for the Opéra de Paris.” The composer later recalls, “I couldn’t refuse in front of the President of the Republic.”
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October 9, 1971: Olivier Messiaen (62) receives the Sibelius Prize in Helsinki.
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March 20, 1972: Olivier Messiaen (63) makes his North American debut as organist in the premiere of his Méditations sur la mystère de la Sainte Trinité at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington.
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May 1, 1972: Olivier Messiaen (63) and his wife Yvonne Loriod begin an eleven-day visit to Utah. See 20 November 1974 and 5 August 1978.
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June 24, 1972: A French court orders Olivier Messiaen (63) to pay FF20,000 compensation to the choreographer Hubert Devillez. Messiaen and Devillez had worked together briefly on a scenario for a ballet to Messiaen’s Turangalîla. When a ballet on the music was staged by Roland Petit in 1968, Devillez sued.
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November 7, 1972: La Fauvette des Jardins for piano by Olivier Messiaen (63) is performed for the first time, in L’Espace Cardin, Paris.
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November 20, 1974: Des canyons aux étoiles... for piano, 23 winds, seven percussionists, and 13 strings by Olivier Messiaen (65), composed for the bicentennial of the United States and inspired by Brice Canyon, Utah, is performed for the first time, in Alice Tully Hall, New York.
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September 18, 1975: Olivier Messiaen (66) and his wife Yvonne Loriod travel to New Caledonia to collect bird song.
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November 22, 1975: Clarinetist Henri Akoka, who played the famous premiere of Olivier Messiaen’s (66) Quatour pour la fin du temps, dies in Paris at the age of 63. See 15 January 1941.
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May 18, 1976: Iannis Xenakis (53) defends his doctorate at the Université de Paris. Among the jury members is Olivier Messiaen (67).
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June 14, 1978: After 37 years of service, Olivier Messiaen (69) teaches his last class at the Paris Conservatoire. None of the hierarchy at the school mark the event.
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August 5, 1978: The White Cliffs in Utah are renamed Mt. Messiaen by vote of the citizens of Parowan, Utah where Oliver Messiaen (69) composed Des Canyon aux etoiles. Unfortunately, the composer is too ill to attend.
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November 14, 1978: Olivier Messiaen (69) and his wife, along with Mistislav Rostropovich, are received at the White House by President and Mrs. Carter.
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October 26, 1981: Olivier Messiaen (72) and his wife move into a second country retreat called La Sauline, north of Bourges.
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March 24, 1983: Trois airs pour un opéra imaginaire for soprano and chamber ensemble by Claude Vivier (†0) is performed for the first time, in Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.  Among the listeners is Olivier Messiaen (74).
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October 9, 1983: Krzysztof Penderecki (49) receives the Sibelius Prize in Helsinki from the Wihuri Foundation. Previous winners include Jean Sibelius (†26), Igor Stravinsky (†12), Paul Hindemith (†19), Dmitri Shostakovich (†8), Olivier Messiaen (74), Witold Lutoslawski (70), and Benjamin Britten (†6).
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November 28, 1983: Saint François d’Assise: scènes franciscaines, an opera by Olivier Messiaen (74) to his own words, is performed for the first time, at the Paris Opéra. Among the glittering audience are Iannis Xenakis (61) and Betsy Jolas (57). The audience is very pleased, the critics guarded. In today’s issue, Libération quotes the composer as saying, “Twilight has arrived. I have finished. I will never compose anything else.”
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May 2, 1984: Iannis Xenakis (61) is admitted to the French Académie, replacing Georges Auric. He is introduced by Olivier Messiaen (75).
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July 1, 1986: Olivier Messiaen's (77) Livre du Saint Sacrement for organ is performed for the first time, in the Metropolitan Methodist Church, Detroit.
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January 26, 1987: Petites Esquisses d’oiseaux for piano by Olivier Messiaen (78) is performed for the first time, in Théâtre de la Ville, Paris. Also premiered is Jalons for chamber ensemble by Iannis Xenakis (64), conducted by Pierre Boulez (61).
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November 26, 1988: Un Vitrail et des oiseaux for piano, woodwinds, trumpet, and percussion by Olivier Messiaen (79) is performed for the first time, in Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris conducted by Pierre Boulez (63). It is part of a concert to celebrate the composer’s 80th birthday.
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November 17, 1989: La Ville d’en-haut for piano and chamber orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (80) is performed for the first time, in Salle Pleyel, Paris conducted by Pierre Boulez (64).
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November 18, 1991: Several new works are performed for the first time, in the Konzerthaus, Vienna to celebrate the 90th birthday of Alfred Schlee, director of Universal Edition: Pièce pour piano et quatuor à cordes by Olivier Messiaen (82), Anthèmes I for violin by Pierre Boulez (66), the second movement of the Sonata for viola by Györgi Ligeti (68), Psalom for string quartet by Arvo Pärt (56), Zwischen den Zeilen for string quartet by Wolfgang Rihm (39) and Freize I for string quartet by Harrison Birtwistle (57). See 19 October 1997, 28 March 1993, 23 April 1994, and 28 April 1996.
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December 5, 1991: Un Sourire for orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (82) is performed for the first time, in Théâtre du Chatelet, Paris to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of Mozart.
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March 25, 1992: The German ambassador to France visits Olivier Messiaen (83) in his Paris apartment to confer on him the Braunschweig Prize. The composer is too ill to leave his home.
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April 21, 1992: Olivier Messiaen (83) is admitted to the Beaujon Hospital in Clichy.
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April 22, 1992: Olivier Messiaen (83) undergoes an operation in Paris to support two collapsed vertebrae.
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April 27, 1992: Evening. Olivier Eugène Prosper Charles Messiaen dies after surgery in Hôpital Beaujon in Clichy, Paris, Republic of France, aged 83 years, four months, and 19 days.
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May 5, 1992: Following a funeral service, the mortal remains of Olivier Messiaen are laid to rest in the churchyard of St. Théoffroy, Isère.
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May 14, 1992: A service in memory of Olivier Messiaen takes place in L’église de la Trinité in Paris, presided over by the cardinal-archbishop, Jean-Marie Lustiger.
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July 14, 1992: Cloches d’adieu, et un sourire… (in memoriam Olivier Messiaen) for piano by Tristan Murail (45) is performed for the first time, in Villeuneuve-lès-Avignon.
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October 23, 1992: Rain Tree Sketch II--In Memoriam Olivier Messiaen (†0) for piano by Toru Takemitsu (62) is performed for the first time, in Education Hall, Yokohama.
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November 5, 1992: Eclairs sur l’au-delà for orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (†0) is performed for the first time, in Avery Fisher Hall, New York.
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February 13, 1993: Maldoror for tape by Pierre Henry (64) is performed for the first time, in Salle Olivier Messiaen of Radio France, Paris. This is a shortened, concert version of Les chants de Maldoror . See 14 February 1993.
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September 26, 1994: Concert à quatre for flute, oboe, piano, cello, and orchestra by Olivier Messiaen (†2) is performed for the first time, at the Opéra Bastille, Paris. The work was left unfinished at the composer’s death and was completed by Yvonne Loriod (Mme. Messiaen).
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December 2, 1994: S709 for two-track Dynamic Stochastic Synthesis by Iannis Xenakis (72) is performed for the first time, in Salle Olivier Messiaen of Radio France, Paris.  Also premiered is Ariadne’s Thread for string quartet and electronic sound generators by Roger Reynolds (60).
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November 29, 1997: Histoire naturelle, ou Les roués de la terre for tape by Pierre Henry (69) is performed for the first time, in Salle Olivier Messiaen of Radio France, Paris.
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December 13, 1997: Cellist Étienne Pasquier, who played the famous premiere of Olivier Messiaen’s (†5) Quatour pour la fin du temps, dies at the age of 92 in a nursing home in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris. See 15 January 1941.
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May 19, 1998: Monodie for organ by Olivier Messiaen (†6) is performed for the first time, in Westminster Cathedral, London, 35 years after it was composed.
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December 10, 1998: ‘kein Gedanke, nur ruhiger Schlaf’ op.65 for chamber ensemble by Alexander Goehr (66) is performed for the first time, in the CBSO Centre, Birmingham. It is an arrangement by the composer of part of his Schlussgesang op.61 in honor of Olivier Messiaen (†6) on the 90th anniversary of his birth.
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January 7, 1999: Une tour de Babel for tape by Pierre Henry (71) is performed for the first time, in Salle Olivier Messiaen of Radio France, Paris.
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August 9, 1999: Violinist Jean Le Boulaire (Lanier), who played the famous premiere of Olivier Messiaen’s (†7) Quatour pour la fin du temps, dies at the age of 86. He was the last surviving member of the quartet. See 15 January 1941.
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February 2, 2003: Concerto for piano, percussion, and chamber ensemble by Unsuk Chin (41) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of Radio-France, from Salle Olivier Messiaen, Paris.
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November 7, 2003: Jubilus for viola and eight players by Jonathan Harvey (64) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of Radio France, originating in Olivier Messiaen Salle, Paris.