Friday, 5 December 2008

George Benjamin on Messiaen

"Fais le chien" said Mme Loriod, and George Benjamin would do dog imitations, making Olivier Messiaen burst into smiles. That's the sort of thing that happens in truly close families, complete naturalness and no "front". That is why I love Messiaen. More than just the music, Messiaen the man is inspirational. He was one of those rare genuinely good souls who make a difference to others simply by being themselves.

"Faith is simple", Messiaen used to say. Yet simplicity is one of the hardest things to achieve. It just "is". A million times deeper than mindlessness. Whatever faith you may follow - and it doesn't matter - this inner stillness, purity of spirit - is a truly rare thing. That's why Messiaen chose St Francis of Assisi for his only "mortal" subject. St Francis abjured worldy values. "Listen to the birds" he said. Utterly simple and yet profound. Some folks go violently ballistic at the very thought of "listening" to things they don't already know. Please read what George Benjamin has to say :

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