messy anne

My copy of Jon Gillock’s book Performing Messiaen’s Organ Music: 66 Masterclasses, arrived in the mail yesterday. I think that was partly what inspired me to practice two new movements by Messaien of his Nativity suite. The other inspiration was a passing comment from Rhonda Edgington.

Gillock’s writing is a bit breathless about Messiaen. I had a prof who use to call this kind of writing “purple prose.” Gillock is immersed in the Christian meaning of the work which I guess is helpful. More important for me are Messiaen’s own comments (which are actually in the scores anyway) and other factual information in the book.

I do like books like this in which I can find information (and opinions) to think about concerning pieces I am learning or interested in learning.


Messiaen’s “Nativity” suite has 9 movements as you can see above. This was a relatively early work of this composer and many trained organists learn this music in school. I’m not sure how many of them play them. I would say that many parish organists do not schedule them in their preludes and postludes.

I learned 1 and 2 in undergraduate school Recently I resurrected them and performed them at church. In 2009 I scheduled “La Vierge et l’Enfant” for a little recital I gave at church. I did “Les Bergers” on Christmas Day last year. Then I learned 4 and performed it this year on New Year’s day.

Yesterday I began work on three new ones:


Desseins Eternels is beautiful to my ears. I almost scheduled it for a week from Sunday but want to get it a bit more in my fingers.


Les Enfant de Diue is one I have wanted to learn for a while.  Messiaen used identical harmonic language in both of these pieces. He called it Mode 2. There is a copy of this scale in the scores.


Les Anges, the third piece of his I began seriously attacking yesterday, seems to be more about rhythm buy 50 mg valium than scale. Messiaen was big into the Hindu “added-note” rhythms. I haven’t checked but I seem to recall from previous reading that he got all his information about this sort of thing from books.

However he did so, I think the music is very cool. Messiaen seems so tame now.  People with defined classical tastes sometimes object to his music. The apocryphal story I know is that he was unable to use his own music at his church. This is sad because he was obviously a devout dude.

I’m not as devout, but I think his music has something important to say to humans. One organist who attends my church confessed that (supposedly despite her own misgivings about his music) his music worked better for her in church than in recitals.


Come Ye Back –

A letter about the tune, “Danny Boy.” I bookmarked it because the Kids’ choir is singing an anthem next Sunday using this tune.


Greek Editor Arrested After Publishing List of Swiss Bank Accounts –

Same as it ever was. Arrest the person who exposes the corruption.


Here are some articles I have bookmarked to go back to and look at, possibly read.

Benoit Mandelbrot, the Father of Fractal Geometry, Pens a Disturbing New Memoir – Tablet Magazine

Los Angeles Review of Books – Literature Is Not Data: Against Digital Humanities

Joyce: Heroic, Comic by Fintan O’Toole | The New York Review of Books

William Styron to Norman Mailer: Two Letters by William Styron | The New York Review of Books


Dead or Alive by Steve Coll | The New York Review of Books

Book review.


Beyond the Circle of Hell by Francine Prose | The New York Review of Books

Review of Diaz’s latest collection. Will definitely read his new book.


The Light Brothers » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

I love it that the organ dude, David Yearsly, writes a column for the radical left website, Counterpunch.  You have to annoyingly scroll down past a silly letter to get to his column.


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