Messiaen was the organist at La Trinité Church in Paris for over 60 years, and both the organ and the church influenced his life and compositions. Messiaen was a devout Catholic, and his appointment at such a young age as the organist of such a prestigious church was the start of a creative process that would last until his death.
But Messiaen could not only use the organ for composition, but had to do his job as the parish organist, performing for services, weddings and funerals. For this he would typically play standard organ repertoire such as Bach or Dupré, rather than his own music, but Messiaen would improvise during certain less important services, and later in his career was something of an attraction, with more people attending services when he was due to perform.
Download a text transcript of this film