Messiaen's music is often extremely distinctive - listeners can often tell a piece of music is by Messiaen from a single chord or sound. In this section of the site we've tried to investigate some of the elements that go into making Messiaen's sound World unique.
"The greatest music creates its own universe."
La Trinité and the Organ
Messiaen was the organist at La Trinité Church in Paris for over 60 years. In this film we explore the role of this organ and the church in Messiaen's life and compositions.
Messiaen often made use of a large percussion section, particularly in the Turangalîla- Symphonie. The Philharmonia Orchestra's principal percussionist takes us on a tour of all the percussion instruments in Turangalîla, and discusses Messiaen's percussion writing.
Messiaen and the Orchestra
The Orchestral writing of Messiaen evolved throughout his career. In this article Nigel Simeone guides us through Messiaen's works for orchestra and the ways in which his scoring changed.
The Ondes Martenot
The most unusual instrument used in many of Messiaen's scores is the ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument, with a sound similar to a Theramin that uses oscillating sound waves to create a very distinctive sound.