L'ascension

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L'Ascension ("The Ascension") is a piece for orchestra, composed by Olivier Messiaen in 1932–33. Messiaen described it as "4 meditations for orchestra".[ This quote needs a citation ]

Orchestra large instrumental ensemble

An orchestra is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which combines instruments from different families, including bowed string instruments such as the violin, viola, cello, and double bass, brass instruments such as the horn, trumpet, trombone and tuba, woodwinds such as the flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon, and percussion instruments such as the timpani, bass drum, triangle, snare drum, cymbals, and mallet percussion instruments each grouped in sections. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes appear in a fifth keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for performances of some modern compositions, electronic instruments.

Olivier Messiaen French composer, organist and ornithologist

Olivier Eugène Prosper Charles Messiaen was a French composer, organist, and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex; harmonically and melodically he employs a system he called modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from the systems of material generated by his early compositions and improvisations. He wrote music for chamber ensembles and orchestra, vocal music, as well as for solo organ and piano, and also experimented with the use of novel electronic instruments developed in Europe during his lifetime.

Contents

The orchestral piece is in four brief sections:

  1. Majesté du Christ demandant sa gloire à son Père ("The majesty of Christ demanding his glory of the Father")
  2. Alleluias sereins d’une âme qui désire le ciel ("Serene alleluias of a soul that longs for heaven")
  3. Alleluia sur la trompette, alleluia sur la cymbale ("Alleluia on the trumpet, alleluia on the cymbal")
  4. Prière du Christ montant vers son Père ("Prayer of Christ ascending towards his Father")

A complete performance takes around 27 minutes.

Instrumentation

The work is orchestrated as follows: [1]

Organ version

In 1933–34, Messiaen made a version for solo organ. The first, second and fourth movements are arrangements of the orchestral pieces, but Messiaen composed a new third movement, Transports de joie d'une âme devant la gloire du Christ qui est la sienne ("Outbursts of joy from a soul before the glory of Christ which is its own glory"), usually just known as Transports de joie. ( Loudspeaker.svg listen  ).

Organ (music) musical keyboard instrument

In music, the organ is a keyboard instrument of one or more pipe divisions or other means for producing tones, each played with its own keyboard, played either with the hands on a keyboard or with the feet using pedals. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria, who invented the water organ. It was played throughout the Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman world, particularly during races and games. During the early medieval period it spread from the Byzantine Empire, where it continued to be used in secular (non-religious) and imperial court music, to Western Europe, where it gradually assumed a prominent place in the liturgy of the Catholic Church. Subsequently it re-emerged as a secular and recital instrument in the Classical music tradition.

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References

George Michael Sinclair Kennedy CBE was an English biographer, journalist and writer on classical music.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

  1. Messiaen, O. (1948). L'Ascension. Paris: Alphonse Leduc.