Olivier Messiaen: A Critical Biography sheds new light on the work of Messiaen, incorporating the perspectives of the composer’s contemporaries and students.

With a focus on ‘previously unexplored sketches and archival material’, Sholl weaves together an intricate portrait of Messiaen as an interdisciplinary figure. He examines the impact of theology, philosophy and aesthetic theory on Messian's work as an organist and an ornithologist, as well as Messiaen’s compositional legacy. 

This follows on from Messiaen in Context, also edited by Robert Sholl, published in November 2023 (Cambridge University Press), containing chapters by Academy researcher Roderick Chadwick and doctoral student Matthew Schellhorn.

Advanced Press

‘This book has allowed me to rediscover the Messiaen that I knew, but also to encounter an unknown Messiaen. May everyone have as much pleasure reading this book as I have!’ 

Olivier Latry, Titular Organist of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris and Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatoire

Sholl's commentaries on the music are acutely perceptive – and as a bonus to this rich feast the photographs are marvellous.’

Peter Hill, Emeritus Professor of Music, University of Sheffield, and co-author of Olivier Messiaen

'Robert Sholl has distilled many years of scholarship and contemplation into a book that is compact yet capacious, brimming with information and insight.’ 

Stephen Schloesser, Professor of History, Loyola University Chicago

‘Writing with clarity and insight, Sholl has provided a readable and engaging contribution to understanding the complicated life and work of one of the twentieth century’s most important figures. Highly recommended.’ 

Andrew Shenton, Professor of Music, Boston University   
Landscape image of a blue lake surrounded by trees and mountains with blue sky and white clouds
The view from Messiaen's balcony at Petichet, by Bruno Moussier