Olivier Messiaen in My Life
Ideology & Music in the Soviet Union
Gregory Haimovsky dedicates his tribute to the leading French composer Olivier Messiaen. It is both an analysis of Messiaen’s compositions and the historiography of the Soviet annals of music.
Haimovsky was the first to introduce and popularize Messiaen to the Soviet public in the mid-sixties – without prior permission from the Soviet authorities.
He wrote the first articles on Messiaen, performed the first concerts, minted the first record and wrote the first ever Soviet book about the music of Messiaen for a leading publishing house.
All this came to a sudden and dramatic end when the Communist Party declared Messiaen’s music as negative, subversive and subsequently banned in the Soviet Union.
Haimovsky’s book contract was withdrawn and his musical performances cancelled. He became a pariah the music world, forcing him to emigrate. Haimovsky’s name was actively erased from all Soviet music records. Later publications following the belated Russian acceptance of Messiaen have intentionally omitted any mention of Haimovsky’s role and contribution.
Olivier Messiaen in My Life resurrects the original manuscript that was barred from being published over forty years ago.