Affecting Eternity: The Pedagogical Influence of Olivier Messiaen

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Olivier Messiaen was among the most prominent and prodigious composer-teachers of the 20th century, teaching scores of students while holding two positions at the Conservatoire de Paris, first as professor of analysis, then as professor of composition. This dissertation explores the connections that can be established through three generations of composers: the composers whose works Messiaen lectured on, his own works, and works by the students of Messiaen. The repertoire considered centers on the piano in various solo and collaborative settings, including operatic reductions, art song, and instrumental chamber music. An effort was made to include students from different periods of Messiaen’s teaching career and representatives of different aesthetic traditions, including serialism, neo-expressionism, European minimalism, and others. Compositions by composers preceding Messiaen were chosen because they were most important to Messiaen and his philosophies. All of these works and composers are assembled here in order to represent the breadth and diversity of Messiaen’s teaching, which enabled his students to find distinct voices in the postwar musical scene.

This repertoire was performed over the course of three recitals on November 15th, 2019, March 8th and May 6th, 2020, with the first two recitals held in the Gildenhorn Recital Hall at the University of Maryland, and the third recital streamed live from the living room of the pianist. Recordings of these three recitals can be found in the Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM).