Monsieur Messiaen’s idea of a Merry Christmas

You must watch to the end. Did faith really make him this miserable?


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  • Very expressive music…… one can hear the difficulties of the birth, the anger about the less than comfortable circumstances, the embarrassment of having to receive prominent foreigners without any suitable pomp, and the spiritual prognosis of the child.

    Apparently, Messiaen was not very happy with Yvonne’s performance. Or he was so strongly medicalised that he was hardly there. Or he profoundly regretted the music.

  • Thank you for posting this wonderful video, Norman. What comes over is (apart from her amazing playing – and memory!) is Yvonne’s love for her husband, her charm, serenity and her playfulness. That silence, punctuated with bells, then birdsong I find profoundly eloquent and moving, as much as the music itself.

  • Beautiful video but the question is irrelevant. His face appears to be a blank, not wanting to interfere with the focus on sound.

  • Indeed, I enjoyed the clip from 5:30 on. Very serene. Thank you for suggesting to watch till the end. I have to admit I skipped a lot in the middle.

  • It looks staged. No way can this be a spontaneous moment, recorded by a candid camera. Too many angles, too much editing. But indeed, Messiaen must have been a generally happier man at the time when he wrote “Turangalila” than at the end of his life. Hardly a naughty boy he was, the Messiaen.

  • I have always been a bit troubled by this one. Why does he not respond? It’s very weird, but like another commenter has opined, this does come across as staged. Perhaps they were just taking the piss? I don’t think he was ‘miserable.’ In a lecture given at the very end of his life, when he was having trouble standing, he told the students “I have never lost the wonder of a child.” The lyre-bird movement in Eclairs sur l’Eau-dela proves this, I think.

  • This is amazing… Why the need to mock a man and his faith? Just say it’s odd the expression, or lack thereof, on his face, as he watches his beloved wife playing the music that came out of faith and love…

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