Music and other four letter words; 23; Joy 3: Olivier Messaien
University of Utah radio presents music and other four letter words. Here is your host associate professor of music at the University of Utah. All bad. There have been so many ways to try to explain the strangeness of the last music of Beethoven. And I suppose for me the most significant is the one which is often the least mentioned and that is that he. Struck to whatever he regarded as Finally true for him through music. That last great metaphysical statement which transcended philosophy that made him in fact the bringer of heavenly drafts of wine as he said to the race of men. For me this life that it all came from the great silence which was imposed upon him by his actual loss of hearing.
Well some might argue that this that this is a sort of easy gift to Beethoven that if one is forced to live in a state where he doesn't hear anything that Serenity this is easy to achieve because he doesn't have the distractions that the modern world or even the world upon the Pollie on Akira would have brought to persons like you and me. But Beethoven felt that it was necessary somehow to. Create maybe even to create the sounds that he had to live through music somehow which was being churned out of him to wrestle with to come to grips with to stamp out the rhythms involved vast stretches of what would be sounded whether or not he could hear it. There is something bizarre something grotesque something frightening something awesome about this. Those of you who read Thomas mun will remember the anecdote I think Dr. Faust us
which pretends to show us the image of Beethoven right in the midst of so let us staying in a flat on the second story and and trying to write a few. However many stories there are about Beethoven's difficulty of writing counterpoint. This one is the most grotesque. He's pictured to us as his unkempt disheveled having been up there in his room for many days without food. Stamping his foot on the floor in order to keep the heat going regularly and right and though he could not himself well hear the awful sounds he was making shrieking out the pitches and bang on the floor and distracting not only the landlady underneath but the whole of the vicinity.
And trying to find somehow the physical reach of pitches in his gullet and to transmute them into notes which he could write down on manuscript paper which he could then look at somehow from behind the mind and feel that. However this would finally sound and whatever kind of tonal color it would it would happen for audiences that he would finally be passing through those sounds too that something else which seemed to him so vastly important in his last years. That's something else of course this is the great and even more fearsome specter of the silence the peace the still which lies at the center of her. I want I want I want an irony. What an irony. That's where we began a long time ago. We keep falling back as we meant to do
on old things. The irony of music the art which moves itself in time and which moves us through time. We have to take time out to listen to and which we can measure and terms of minutes and seconds and this time over the next in this chord progressing to the next chord. The irony of just that medium which some people have called entertainment. Moving quite spectacularly beyond mere entertainment to such a bold and high purpose was to destroy the very premise upon which it seems to be founded. And her show us that it. Is illusory in itself but that beyond it so it may be a step toward something which is
permanent and all embrace. Well that then is the metaphysician who begins to speak and not the composer just sounds. And that brings us to Beethoven and it brings us to some people nowadays who feel similarly and who try to write music similarly. Beethoven's concept of that snus or vastness and as I suppose is directly rooted in the great silence he writes on an epic scale and he says so has come with more than this world. His direct sort of line of communication is with God and the all that loving father who transcends each one of us and all of us together is the one who is well known to Beethoven and for whom he speaks when he writes music.
When Beethoven speaks of the folk he moves all mankind and there is no jesting about it when he writes a Pastoral Symphony means the whole world and the whole good he is. Here's one with Haydn the news one with Wordsworth and it's not that God is in his heaven and all's right with the world but that God's heaven is here and now and therefore everything must be right for those who have an eye to see it or an ear to hear it. In this century another Roman Catholic perhaps a little more. Impatient with the church a little more church going even than the fun Beethoven was the French composer Olivier mess. To whose music we have listened occasionally in the past as another man who begins to speak along Beethoven lines. He
talks about that and this is an about about epic concepts and about the importance to him of being in the right place where silences can be made in effect making for himself something like the equivalent of the Beethoven deafness. But that's that's awkward. He said when he wrote his. Women now increasingly famous were to expect to resurrect them or to warn them that it was necessary for him to go to the high Alps where he could have a look which would present him with vast innocence. With a gigantic monolith that sort of outlook. And then he had to have pictures in the room where he was on a desert scent of Mayan temples and of Egyptian structures that were also similarly rough and hugely put together.
But he had to contemplate even intellectually huge writing so I returned to reading Thomas Aquinas everything of that sort of touched upon him had somehow to extend himself so far beyond the usual scope and usual dimension with which we are confronted in every day that it was in the first place. A route towards loss of the self. Most of us have to make our own Alps and can usually afford a plane just to get up and buy a ticket and then go off to the sea or to the Rocky Mountains even. Even if we would like to go to the desert which is closer to this area it still seems something of an ordeal to put things together and to get up and go. And the plight of modern urban men seems to be not unlike the plight of the
Beethoven's in the suburbs say in the early twenties. We're pretty much trapped in a place and somehow we have to make our own mountains. We have to make deserts. There are some people around to help us who goes to rock. I suppose there are people who want to set up for something like an artificial moods. Find a pattern find a rhythm. Repeat it over and over and over again symbolically for ever so that at some point it seems interminable in both directions that as one does not remember the beginning because everything has been the same and one does not anticipate the end because it is not on progress. It is somehow out of the mode of thinking of history as we view it now is the mode of expectation of
ours. Oh to be a mess young However although I was suppose I could do that if you wanted to frequently must. When it came to writing some of his pieces he went to jungles. He went to Japan he went to India and went to the strange places he went to the deserts he went where there were sounds of birds and animals which were transmitted in the two versions of ecstasy and of some kind of strange Dental to which we might even with all created you remember this music.
Theone with a theology theone that is not enough now for some far cry from both Poland and it's by that not too noticeably Catholic and not very mystic. More he saw than. But we are loosed in the land of myth and legend. Daphnis and Chloe having been reunited the whole world from our herds in the moment of Joey. While there are bird sounds in the
orchestra there's a great sort of PM the great swelling of the human voices not clearly saying anything but merging with the son lived. And when Miss than that the spelling of sleep and the calling of a homemade flutes and horns as they echo across the hills the gathering together of all mankind for a great and a dynamic celebration. And all of this ends up being much more of a thing and much more of a kind of almost cosmic or Jew then the mirror re-uniting of Daphnis and Chloe would seem to warrant it. However I guess if both you and I were listening to this music we would stop at some point of pleasure that is we would think. I assume that pretty well isn't that nice or
beautiful or something like that. And music as entertainment if you will would have would have fulfilled its purpose but there's nothing special here to Trent's support us beyond the spirit of music. Unless of course earn given to that sort of thing and seize upon an occasion to leap off into the cosmos. When messing up and know we're on the verge of doing just that. And because he is still with us we'll probably be doing it again and again. There are people who listen to birds for example and try to imitating them in a pretty context as did rebel in this piece. There is to be see who would listen to a bird and at first we might even find him imitating the sound. But imitation of the sound is less important to him. And then what finally happens that the sound is crystallized
into some kind of pattern and the pattern becomes the sign or something symbolic. When things start being worked out behind the minds of composers they often lose a large part of their audience how many people listen to the three so not to gloat at the blue suit with the same sort of. Invigoration and the dedication and sense of appreciation of the beauty and sensuousness as they do to be left in the on or to the three Nocturnes for orchestra. Even LA is a problem for some people because it's clearly transitional and it doesn't do as much for them say as the afternoon of fun but then it doesn't mean to because the sounds of the city are not the sounds of The Who.
There are sounds which have become patterns and their patterns which shift. And there are patterns which are related to one another on the the mind can cling to each one and with the same agility as the challenge be able to change with them. And when do things become symbolic in some way. There must be a unanimity of opinion or sentiment or healing about what it is that is symbolized. And this usually can't happen in the ordinary world a plot to end into a relationship because the ordinary world where we have thoughts and into relationships is dependent upon memory and upon experience and upon differences of upbringing. And if there is to be anything like synonymous experience that has to happen elsewhere than in our own personal histories. And that's a place or a state which people don't like to think about very much or to try to get to the messy bugs.
He likes to write. The sounds of birds he likes to write not because they are pretty bird sounds but because they call to him at some level where their shape their contour their rhythm speak directly powerful and more importantly somehow than and the words in the language that he was taught in whatever town who grew up in in Europe are. It.
Is closer to something. Some kind of final sense of intent. Occasion when things then say when he's having lunch at the neighborhood cafeteria and chit chat over the meat loaf about some political event or uprising when he discovers that he begins to ponder it. And to plummet and to relate it to other mysterious things which set up echoes inside him. And before very long the music of messing up the birds who have turned him on and begins to be mixed with passages of Scripture rather timeless intimations things which are presumably words from God. Who is among us who is outside us who is within us without us. In the piece that I mentioned before and expect the third movement.
As are all of the movements is derived from a passage of Scripture which is a very simple one then the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John. The hour is coming as the text where this movement the hour is coming and now is when the dead shall the voice. Of the Son of God watch is the voice of God for all of us. And if he stands in the jungle and it is a bird that speaks to him directly powerfully symbolically so that somehow mysteriously in the interconnections of sounds the pitches of speech the rattles of pauses there are something being said here which which rivets them to the spot and sends word some quite from it. That that is more the voice of the Son of God than any other moment. He has no you're not surprised then of who tells you that when he writes a piece of music. How about of the dead rising again when they hear the voice of the Son of God that somehow that should be connected with sound of
birds. He says the voice that will awaken the dead is thrice symbolized in my music. The first symbol which the woodwinds play is the disjointed song with its contrast and dynamics of the wee bird of the Amazon. The second symbol as the permutations of Bell. It's the third symbol along and a powerful resonance of the TAM. Oh. Oh.
But the overriding all of them the but that's only the beginning. At some point he has to write a symphony in which the whole world and everything that's sort of contiguous to it is expressed in some kind of sound. At this point it begins to be almost impossible to remember all of the words which Mr. Young begins to use about his music and the famous symphony tour. Now the word itself taught on Gallina is impossible of translation or really definition. Now there are Sanskrit roots and he tries to break them down into a lot of things they could be about he says. I suggest the play of the cosmos around everything which is here and now they
suggest destruction and reconstruction. Life and Death Rebirth and love. I suggest time which like horses and gallops rapidly around us around us around us until Little Black Sambo like it probably dissipates itself. It suggests movement therefore and rhythm and vitality and and a kind of stillness inside that which makes it possible and indefatigable. It suggests orchids and fuchsias and Gladio lives and corn lilies and BIRDS BIRDS BIRDS BIRDS and the whole is love and peace and joy and movement and stillness and life and death. And it is all derived from the music of all places all peoples all times and all creatures of thought.
Oh and it was.
- Episode Number
- Joy 3: Olivier Messaien
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- No description available
- Media type
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 4305 (University of Maryland)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “Music and other four letter words; 23; Joy 3: Olivier Messaien,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 21, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-6m335s67.
- MLA: “Music and other four letter words; 23; Joy 3: Olivier Messaien.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 21, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-6m335s67>.
- APA: Music and other four letter words; 23; Joy 3: Olivier Messaien. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-6m335s67