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[first slide]
- 1948 by Olivier Messiaen
- 75 minutes
- Commission by Serge Koussevitzky - Boston Symphony Orchestra
- Inspired by the myth of Tristan and Isolde
- Sanskrit words, turanga meaning time (movement and rhythm) and lla meaning play
- love song, and hymn to joy, time, movement, rhythm, life, and death.
[second slide]
- Instrumentation:
Solo piano and ondes Martenot; other woodwind, brass, percussion, celest
a and string instruments (piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets,
bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, cornet, piccolo trumpet, 3 trom
bones, tuba, percussion, celesta, ondes martenot, piano and strings) ****
- Array of percussion creates the gamelan effect (Indonesian soft-percussion music
- Solo piano part is hugely demanding
[third slide]
- Cyclic Themes:
Four cyclic themes that reappear throughout, some are specific to each m
1. Statue theme
2. Flower theme
3. Love theme
4. Chain of chords that goes rhythmic, contrapuntal, and registral
transformations *
[fourth slide]
- Structure: 10 parts or movements
Chant d'amour 1
Turangalla 1
Chant d'amour 2
Joie du sang des toiles
Jardin du sommeil d'amour
Turangalla 2
Dveloppement de l'amour
Turangalla 3
[fifth slide]
Excerpt: Final Movement
The Love Theme comes in several versions. In movement 6, it was in the form of h
ushed strings, then to a full orchestral treatment in the climax of the finale.
*** Modr, presque vif, avec une grande joie: The movement is in sonata form: A bra
ss fanfare, coupled with a fast variation of the "love theme", is developed and
leads to a long coda, a final version of the "love" theme played fortissimo by t
he entire orchestra. The work ends on an enormous chord of F major. In Messiaen's
words, "glory and joy are without end".
Listen to Love Theme and discuss more on the aesthetics!!!
Turangalla contains many themes that relate to each of its ten movements, but the
re are also four larger, cyclic themes that recur throughout the work.
1 The first cyclic theme is based on thirds and is most often played by fortissi
mo by the trombones. Messiaen refers to this as the "statue theme," metaphoric f
or the oppressive brutality of ancient Mexican monuments.
2 The second "flower" theme is heard pianissimo in the clarinets, alluding to th
e colors of flowers.

3 Messiaen considers the third "love" theme to be the most significant of the fo
4 The fourth theme is a chain of chords that undergoes rhythmic, contrapuntal, a
nd registral transformations.

6th mov.
Jardin du Sommeil damour (Garden of Loves Sleep). Trs modr, trs tendre: The first ful
rendition of the "love" theme in the strings and ondes is accompanied by ideali
zed birdsong played by the piano, and by other orchestral coloristic effects. Ac
cording to Messiaen, "The two lovers are enclosed in loves sleep. A landscape c
omes out from them..."