List of compositions by Olivier Messiaen

This is a list of compositions by Olivier Messiaen. Works are listed initially by genre and can be sorted chronologically by clicking on the "Date" header.

Olivier Messiaen in 1937

The compositions by Olivier Messiaen include works for chamber ensemble, orchestra, vocal music, music for piano and organ, as well as some of the earliest electronic music, with his use of the ondes martenot in several of his compositions. Messiaen's work is characterised by rhythmic complexity, his interest in ornithology and birdcalls, and his system of modes of limited transposition.

List of compositionsEdit

Title Scoring Date Notes[1]


Saint-François d'Assise
("St. Francis of Assisi")
opera in 3 acts
Libretto: Messiaen
soprano, 3 tenors, 4 baritones, and bass soloists, chorus, and orchestra 1975–83


Fugue in D minor orchestra 1928 lost
La Banquet eucharistique
("The Eucharistic Banquet")
orchestra 1928 premiere Jan. 1930;


portions recomposed for organ as Le banquet céleste in 1928 and Offrande au Saint-Sacrement in 1929

Jésus – Poème symphonique orchestra 1928 lost
Simple chant d'une âme
("Simple Song of a Soul")
orchestra 1930 lost
Les Offrandes oubliées [fr] – Méditation symphonique
("The Forgotten Offerings – Symphonic Meditation")
orchestra 1930 arr. for piano solo in 1931
Le Tombeau resplendissant
("The Resplendent Tomb")
orchestra 1931 published 1997
Hymne au Saint-Sacrement [fr]
("Hymn to the Holy Sacrament")
orchestra 1932 lost in 1942, Messiaen reconstructed it from memory in 1946[2]
L'Ascension – 4 Méditations symphoniques
("The Ascension – 4 Symphonic Meditations")
orchestra 1932–33 mvts 1, 2, and 4 arr. for organ with a new 3rd mvt in 1933–34
orchestra 1959–60
Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum
("And I Await the Resurrection of the Dead")
34 winds & brass, 3 percussion 1964
Un Sourire
("A Smile")
orchestra 1989
Éclairs sur l'au-delà…
("Lightning over the Beyond…")
orchestra 1987–91 flute solo in 7th mvt from Sigle;

premiered by the New York Philharmonic in November 1992

Un oiseau des arbres de vie (Oiseau tui)
("A Bird of the Trees of Life (Tui Bird)")
orchestra 1987–91 discarded 3rd mvt from Éclairs sur l'au-delà (in between the existing 2nd & 3rd mvts);

ms in piano sketch with orchestration annotations discovered among Messiaen's papers;

orchestrated by Christopher Dingle and first performed at The Proms in August 2015[3]


Trois Tâla
("Three Tâla")
piano and orchestra 1946–48 used in Turangalîla-Symphonie
Turangalîla-Symphonie piano and ondes Martenot soloists, and orchestra 1946–48 revised 1990 (published 1994)
Réveil des oiseaux [fr]
("Awakening Birds")
solo piano and orchestra 1953 revised 1988 (published 1999)
Oiseaux exotiques
("Exotic Birds")
solo piano, and 11 winds, 7 percussion 1955–56 revised 1985 (published 1995)
Concert des garrigues – sur les oiseaux de l'Hérault
("Garrigues Concerto – on the birds of Hérault")
piano and orchestra 1958–62 written as an homage to Debussy;

ms in piano score, complete but without orchestration, ms discarded and music rewritten as Sept haïkaï after the composer's visit to Japan;

ms reconstructed and edited as a solo piano piece as Fauvettes de l'Hérault – Concert des garrigues ("Warblers of Herault – Garrigues Concerto") by Roger Muraro, and first performed by him in Tokyo June 2017[4]

Sept haïkaï – Esquisses japonaisses
("Seven Haikus – Japanese Sketches")
solo piano, and 8 violins, 13 winds, 6 percussion 1962
Couleurs de la Cité céleste [fr]
("Colors of the Celestial City")
solo piano, and 3 clarinets, 10 brass, 6 percussion 1963
Des Canyons aux étoiles…
("From the Canyons to the Stars…")
piano, horn, glockenspiel, and xylorimba soloists, and small orchestra with 13 string players 1971–74 6th mvt is arr. of horn piece Le tombeau de Jean-Pierre Guezec
Un vitrail et des oiseaux [fr]
("Stained-Glass Window and Birds")
piano solo, and 17 winds & brass, 8 percussion 1987
La Ville d'En-haut
("The City on High")
piano solo, and 31 winds & brass, 8 percussion 1987
Concert à quatre
("Quadruple Concerto")
piano, cello, flute, and oboe soloists, and orchestra 1991–92 2nd mvt is arr. of soprano & piano piece Vocalise-Étude;

5th mvt never written and portions of orchestration not completed due to the composer's declining health;

2nd half of 1st mvt and all of 4th mvt orchestrated by Yvonne Loriod, George Benjamin, and Heinz Holliger, premiered in 1994, published in 2003


La Sainte-Bohème
("The Holy Bohemian")
Text: Théodore de Banville from Odes funambulesques
mixed chorus and orchestra 1930 composed for the Prix de Rome;


("The Sorceress")
soprano, tenor, bass, and piano or orchestra 1931 premiere 1931;


La jeunesse des vieux
("The Youth of Old")
Poem: Catulle Mendés
chorus and orchestra 1931 composed for the Prix de Rome;


Mass 8 sopranos, and 4 violins 1933–34 lost
Poèmes pour Mi
("Poems for Mi")
soprano and orchestra 1937 arr. of soprano and piano work
O sacrum convivium!
("Oh Sacred Banquet!")
SATB chorus and organ 1937
Choeurs pour une Jeanne d'Arc
("Chorales for Joan of Arc")
chorus 1941 premiere 1941;


Trois petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine
("Three Small Liturgies of the Divine Presence")
36 women's voices, piano solo, ondes Martenot solo, and strings, percussion 1943–44 revised 1952, 1990
Chant des déportés
("Song of the Deportees")
large ST chorus and orchestra 1945 believed lost until discovered in 1991[5]
Cinq rechants [fr] 3 sopranos, 3 altos, 3 tenors, 3 basses 1948
La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ
("The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ")
large 100-voice 10-part chorus, piano, cello, flute, clarinet, xylophone, vibraphone, and marimba soloists, and large orchestra 1965–69


Deux ballades de Villon
("Two Ballads of Villon")
  1. Épître à ses amis
  2. Ballade des pendus
voice and piano 1921 lost
Trois mélodies
  1. Pourquoi?
  2. Le Sourire
  3. La Fiancée perdue
soprano and piano 1930
Échapper à l'accord de Rome
voice and piano 1930 composed for the Prix de Rome;


La Mort du nombre
("Death of the Number")
soprano, tenor, violin, and piano 1930
Échapper à l'accord de Rome
voice and piano 1931 composed for the Prix de Rome;


Leçons de solfège à chanter
("Solfege Singing Lessons")
5 wordless pieces
high voice and piano 1934 published 2001
Vocalise-Étude soprano and piano 1935 orchestrated as 2nd mvt of Concert à quatre in 1991
Poèmes pour Mi
("Poems for Mi")
soprano and piano 1936 orchestrated in 1937
Chants de Terre et de Ciel
("Songs of Earth and Heaven")
soprano and piano 1938
Harawi: Chants d'amour et de mort
("Harawi: Songs of Love and Death")
soprano and piano 1945 5th mvt is arr. of oboe and piano Pièce


Adagio organ, violin, cello 1927 lost
Andantino string quartet 1926–27 lost
Thème et variations
("Theme and Variations")
violin and piano 1932
Fantaisie violin and piano 1933 premiere 1935;

discovered and published 2007[6]

Quatuor pour la fin du temps
("Quartet for the End of Time")
violin, cello, clarinet, and piano 1940 5th mvt is arr. of 4th mvt of Fête des belles eaux, 8th mvt is arr. of 2nd mvt of Diptyque
Hymne des passereaux au lever du jour
("Hymn of the sparrows at sunrise")
clarinet solo 1944 published as the 119th musical example of his book Technique of my Musical Language
Pièce oboe and piano 1945 written as a test piece for the oboe concours at the Paris Conservatoire, premiere 1945?;


arr. for soprano and piano as 5th mvt of Harawi

Le Merle noir
flute and piano 1952[7]
Le tombeau de Jean-Pierre Guézec
("The Tomb of Jean-Pierre Guézec")
horn solo 1971 premiere 1971;


arr. for orchestra as 6th mvt of Des Canyons aux étoiles

flute solo 1982 premiere 1982;


later used in the 7th mvt of Éclairs sur l'au-delà

Chant dans le style Mozart
("Song in the Style of Mozart")
clarinet and piano 1986 written for the Conservatoire harmony examination, premiere 1986;

unpublished, but recorded by Yvonne Loriod in 1999

Pièce pour piano et quatuor à cordes
("Piece for Piano and String Quartet")
piano quintet 1991
Feuillets inédits
("Unpublished Leaves")
4 pieces
piano and ondes Martenot various unknown dates compiled by Yvonne Loriod, published in 2001[8]


Les seins coupés de Ste. Agathe
("The Severed Breasts of Saint Agatha")
organ 1923 unpublished
Esquisse modale
("Modal Sketch")
organ 1927 lost
Pièce pour orgue sur un thème de Laparra
("Piece for Organ on a Theme of Laparra")
organ 1927 lost
Prélude organ unknown, probably around 1928 discovered 1997, published 2002
Variations écossaises
("Scottish Variations")
organ 1928 lost
Le Banquet Céleste
("The Heavenly Banquet")
organ 1928 a recomposition of a section from the unpublished orchestra work Le banquet eucharistique;[9]

revised 1960

L'hôte aimable des âmes
("The Kind Host of Souls")
organ 1928 lost
Offrande au Saint-Sacrement
("Offering to the Holy Sacrament")
organ 1929[10] a recomposition of a section from the unpublished orchestral piece Le banquet eucharistique;

published 2001

Prélude en trio sur un thème de Haydn
("Prelude and Trio on a Theme of Haydn")
organ 1929 lost
Diptyque: Essai sur la vie terrestre et l'éternité bienheureuse
("Diptych: Essay on earthly life and blessed eternity")
organ 1929–30 2nd mvt arr. as 8th mvt of Quatuor pour la fin du temps in 1940
Apparition de l'église éternelle
("Apparition of the Eternal Church")
organ 1932 revised 1985
("The Ascension")
organ 1933–34 mvts 1, 2, and 4 arr. from the orchestra work, 3rd mvt is new
La Nativité du Seigneur
("The Lord's Nativity")
organ 1935
Les Corps glorieux
("Glorious Bodies")
organ 1939
Tristan et Yseult – Théme d'Amour
("Tristan and Isolde – Love Theme")
organ 1945 premiere 1945;

used as the thème d'amour in Harawi

Messe de la Pentecôte
("Pentecost Mass")
organ 1951
Livre d'orgue
("Organ Book")
organ 1951–52[7]
Verset pour la fête de la Dédicace
("Verse for the Dedication Ceremony")
organ 1960
Monodie organ 1963
Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité
("Meditations on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity")
organ 1967–69
Le Livre du Saint-Sacrement
("Book of the Holy Sacrament")
organ 1984
3 Improvisations organ 1985 unpublished, but recorded (improvised) by Messiaen in 1985


La Dame de Shalott
("The Lady of Shalott")
piano 1917 unpublished, but recorded by Yvonne Loriod
La tristesse d'un grand ciel blanc
("The Sadness of a Great White Sky")
piano 1925 lost
Huit Préludes
("Eight Preludes")
piano 1928–29 revised 1945
Les Offrandes oubliées [fr]
("The Forgotten Offerings")
piano 1931 arr. of orchestra work
Fantaisie burlesque piano 1932
Morceau (au première piste) de lecture à vue
("Piece (on the First Course) for Sight-Reading")
piano 1934 exercise written for piano examinations at the Ecole Normale de Musique
Pièce pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas
("Piece for the Tomb of Paul Dukas")
piano 1935 published 1996
Visions de l'Amen
("Visions of the Amen")
2 pianos 1943
Rondeau piano 1943
Vingt Regards sur l'enfant-Jésus
("Twenty Contemplations of the Christ-Child")
piano 1944
Cantéyodjayâ piano 1948
Quatre Études de rythme
("Four Rhythmic Etudes")
  1. Île de feu 1
  2. Mode de valeurs et d'intensités
  3. Neumes rhythmiques
  4. Île de feu 2
piano 1949–50 intended as a set but each piece initially published separately, published as a set in 2008
Catalogue d'oiseaux
("Catalogue of the Birds")

Book 1:

  1. Le Chocard des alpes
    ("Alpine Chough")
  2. Le Loriot
    ("Golden Oriole")
  3. Le Merle bleu
    ("Blue Rock Thrush")

Book 2:

  1. Le Traquet stapazin
    ("Black-Eared Wheatear")

Book 3:

  1. La Chouette hulotte
    ("Tawny Owl")
  2. L'Alouette lulu

Book 4:

  1. La Rousserolle effarvatte
    ("Reed Warbler")

Book 5:

  1. L'Alouette calandrelle
    ("Greater Short-Toed Lark")
  2. La Bouscarle
    ("Cetti's Warbler")

Book 6:

  1. Le merle de roche
    ("Rock Thrush")

Book 7:

  1. La Buse variable
  2. Le Traquet rieur
    ("Black Wheatear")
  3. Le Courlis cendré
piano 1956–58 2. loriot and Loriod are homophones
La Fauvette passerinette
("Subalpine Warbler")
piano 1961 a birdsong piece possibly intended for Book 8 of Catalogue d'oiseaux;

discovered in 2012 by Peter Hill, edited for performance by Hill, and premiered by him in November 2013[11]

Prélude piano 1964 published 2002
La Fauvette des jardins
("Garden Warbler")
piano 1970–72
Petites esquisses d'oiseaux
("Little Sketches of Birds")
piano 1985


Fête des belles eaux
("Festival of the Beautiful Waters")
6 ondes Martenots 1937 4th mvt arr. as 5th mvt of Quatuor pour la fin du temps;

published 2003

Deux monodies en quarts de ton
("Two Monodies in Quarter-Tones")
ondes Martenot 1938 believed lost until discovered recently;

so far unpublished

Musique de scène pour un Œdipe
("Stage Music for Oedipus")
ondes Martenot 1942 premiere 1942;


musique concrète
tape 1952 realised by Pierre Henry in the radiophonic workshop of French radio, an experiment which Messiaen later deemed a failure;[12]

premiere 1952;

published in fragments but withdrawn, recording released 2004

Unspecified instrumentsEdit

Fugue sur un sujet d’Henri Rabaud
("Fugue on a subject of Henri Rabaud")
4 parts in SATB clefs 1926
Fugue pour le Concours de Rome (sur un sujet de Georges Hüe)
("Fugue for the Prix de Rome Contest (on a subject of Georges Hüe)")
4 parts in SATB clefs 1930 unpublished
Fugue pour le Concours de Rome
("Fugue for the Prix de Rome Contest")
4 parts in SATB clefs 1931 unpublished
Vingt Leçons en harmonie (dans le style de certains compositeurs importants de l'histoire musicale de l'harmonie de Monteverdi à Ravel)
("Twenty Lessons in Harmony (in the style of some important composers in the musical history of harmony from Monteverdi to Ravel)")
various or unspecified instruments 1939 written for a course Messiaen taught at the Opéra à Paris, the lessons analyze the harmonization of continuo and melody in the style of different composers (Monteverdi, Rameau, Bach, Gluck, Mozart, Schumann, Franck, Lalo, Chabrier, Massenet, Fauré, Albéniz, Debussy, Ravel, and Traditional Indian songs)
Chant donneé (Leçon d'harmonie: Hommage à Jean Gallon)
("Song Assignment (Lesson in Harmony: Tribute to Jean Gallon)")
4 parts in SATB clefs 1953


  • Technique de mon langage musical ("The technique of my musical language"). Paris: Leduc, 1944.
  • Vingt leçons d'harmonie ("20 harmony lessons"). Paris: Leduc, 1944.
  • Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d'ornithologie (1949–1992) ("Treatise on rhythm, colour and ornithology"), completed by Yvonne Loriod. 7 parts bound in 8 volumes. Paris: Leduc, 1994–2002.
  • Analyses of the Piano Works of Maurice Ravel, edited by Yvonne Loriod, translated by Paul Griffiths. [Paris]: Durand, 2005.


  • Benitez, Vincent P. (2007). Olivier Messiaen: A Research and Information Guide Routledge, New York. ISBN 1138870250
  • Hill, Peter and Simeone, Nigel (2005). Messiaen. Yale University Press, New Haven and London. ISBN 0-300-10907-5.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Messiaen, Olivier and Samuel, Claude (tr. E. Thomas Glasgow) (1994). Conversations with Claude Samuel. Amadeus Press, Portland, Oregon. ISBN 0-931340-67-5.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Simeone, Nigel (1998). Olivier Messiaen: a Bibliographical Catalogue of Messiaen’s Works, First Editions and First Performances. Schneider, Tutzing. ISBN 3795209471
  • Zinke-Bianchini, Virginie (1949). Olivier Messiaen, compositeur de musique et rythmicien : notice biographique, catalogue détaillé des œuvres éditées. L'Émancipatrice, Paris. OCLC 835673162


  1. ^ some information comes from the New Grove article on Messiaen. Griffiths, Paul. "Messiaen, Olivier". Grove Music Online. oxfordmusiconline. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  2. ^ Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 120
  3. ^ "Messiaen: Un oiseau des arbres de Vie (Oiseau tui)". BBC. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  4. ^ "DEBUSSY Études MESSIAEN Fauvettes de l'Hérault (Roger Muraro)". Gramophone. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  5. ^ Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 162
  6. ^ see this note on errors in the score
  7. ^ a b Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 199, outlines the chronology of Messiaen's compositions of 1951–52 Le merle noir and Livre d'orgue
  8. ^ Messiaen, Olivier; Loriod, Yvonne (2001). Feuillets inédits: quatre pièces pour onde Martenot & piano. Durand.
  9. ^ Hill & Simeone (2005), p. 25
  10. ^ some scholars suggest composition date of 1930–35, others 1928–31 being related to Le Banquet Céleste of 1928, but most likely this is the Conservatoire examination submission Messiaen mentions in Jan. 1929 (see Christopher Brent Murray, Le développement du langage musical d'Olivier Messiaen, pp. 176–7)
  11. ^ "La Fauvette Passerinette – a fascinating Messiaen discovery". Faber Music. Faber & Faber. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  12. ^ Messiaen & Samuel (1994), p. 198

External linksEdit