About the Boston University Messiaen Project

Introduction and project outline

Olivier Messiaen (1908-92) is one of the most significant composers of the twentieth-century yet remains one of the least discussed. The Boston University Messiaen Project is a three year, cross-disciplinary event dedicated to scholarly discussion and performance of Messiaen’s music and to related cultural, historical, theological issues in an effort to raise awareness of this notable figure. Using the resources of Boston University, cooperation from organizations in the City of Boston and advances in technology, it aims to provide a variety of musical and scholarly offerings that will be of interest to a wide range of audiences. The BUMP is jointly sponsored by the School of Music, the School of Theology and CAS/GRS.

Messiaen Web site

There is currently no official web site for Messiaen and he is underrepresented on general classical music web sites. The background to the BUMP and one of its most important components is this web site dedicated to Messiaen. Boston University is hosting the site for an initial period of three years.

Community involvement

In addition to working with different departments at Boston University (including the School of Music, School of Theology, French Department and others), we are establishing relationships with local music groups, including orchestras, choral groups and chamber groups, to provide a range of concerts, pre-concert lectures, events for children, exhibitions, and other educational experiences associated with French culture during Messiaen’s life and the art and music of France during his lifetime. There will be a number of special events geared for example to his pupils (a dazzling array of luminaries including Stockhausen, Boulez and Xenakis).

2006 project launch and mini-conference

Nigel Simeone and Peter Hill, authors of the new Messiaen biography (Yale 2005) will be guests at the official launch of the BUMP in September 2006. Details of the events can be found here.

2007 weekend conference

A second conference is being planned for the fall of 2007. This event will focus on cross-disciplinary work, especially work on Messiaen’s theology, and will be hosted by the School of Theology. Further details and call for papers will be announced in due course.

Ongoing BUMP events

From the fall of 2006 to the summer of 2009 music by Messiaen, his teachers, students and colleagues will be programmed by faculty and students at the School of Music. Several special events are being planned during this time which will be announced on this site.

Fall 2008 centenary festival

For the entire fall semester of 2008 Boston University will be promoting a series of Messiaen events at the University and in the City of Boston in cooperation with many local organizations. This will culminate at the actual anniversary of his birth, Wednesday December 10 with a big weekend of events on December 6 and 7.

About Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen was a 20th century French composer, organist, teacher, theologian and ornithologist.

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