Illuminations of the Beyond: Messiaen’s Last Concert at La Trinité
This paper focuses on Olivier Messiaen’s last organ concert on December 18, 1991, at La Trinité in Paris, and the relationship it has to his compositional techniques and theology. Through an examination of his notes for the concert and a recording of this historic event (provided to me by Père Jean-Rodolphe Kars), the paper considers how Messiaen used and developed given themes, colored his music through harmony and different organ registrations, and structured each extemporization and the concert as a whole. Despite the concert being a swan song, we find Messiaen at the height of his inventive powers.
Vincent Benitez is associate professor of music at Pennsylvania State University, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music theory and analysis. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in music theory from Indiana University, where he wrote his dissertation on Olivier Messiaen’s opera Saint François d’Assise, and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in organ performance from Arizona State University, where he wrote his thesis on an analysis of the musical-rhetorical figures in Bach’s Orgelbüchlein and their implications for performance. He is the author of Olivier Messiaen: A Research and Information Guide (Routledge). He has published articles on Messiaen in Music Analysis, Messiaen the Theologian (Ashgate), the Dutch Journal of Music Theory, the Journal of Musicological Research, the Poznan Studies on Opera, Music Theory Online, and the College Music Symposium, as well as reviews of books devoted to Messiaen in Performance Practice Review, NOTES, and the Indiana Theory Review.