Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum

From Wind Repertory Project
Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen

General Info

Year: 1964
Duration: c. 32:35
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Alphonse Leduc
Cost: Parts Only - Rental   |   Score Only - $60.00


1. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! – 4:25
2. Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. – 6:20
3. The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God. – 5:05
4. They shall be raised in power, with a new name - when the morning stars sing together and all the sons of God shout for Joy. – 7:35
5. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude... – 8:20


Full Score
C Piccolo I-II
Flute I-II-III
English Horn
Bassoon I-II-III
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
D Piccolo Trumpet
Horn in F I-II-III-IV-V-VI
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Saxhorn Basse en Si Bémol (or Euphonium)
Percussion, including:

  • Gongs (6 pitched high to low)
  • Jeux de cencerros (Pitched Cowbells)
  • Jeu de cloches (Chimes)
  • Tam-Tams (3; small, medium, and large)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum (And I wait for the resurrection of the dead) is a work for orchestra by Olivier Messiaen, written in 1964 and first performed the following year. It is composed in five movements. Commissioned by André Malraux to commemorate the dead of the two World Wars, the piece was written and orchestrated in 1964. The piece was destined to be performed in large spaces like churches, cathedrals and the open air. Messiaen was inspired by the countryside which surrounded him as he worked on the composition -- the Hautes-Alpes with their great mountains -- but also the imposing images of Gothic and Romanesque churches, and the ancient monuments of Mexico and Ancient Egypt. Messiaen also studied The Resurrection, from the supplement to the third part of the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas.

The piece uses strong woodwind, brass and percussion sections. The string section of a symphony orchestra is omitted entirely.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum (And I await the resurrection of the dead) was commissioned in 1964 by the French Minister of Cultural Affairs, novelist and art theorist André Malraux. This was an extremely prestigious commission that firmly cemented Messiaen’s position in the French cultural establishment. Malraux’s original brief was for a work that would commemorate the dead of the two World Wars. Instead of writing a requiem or memorial to the dead, however, Messiaen chose not to focus on the horrors of combat, and produced a more universal meditation on the transcendence of death through the resurrection of Christ, conceived for performance in vast spaces: churches, cathedrals or even outdoors, high up in the mountains.

The work, scored for an orchestra of woodwind, brass and metal percussion, is in five movements, each prefaced by a quotation from the Bible. The music is typically rich in symbolism, much of which is explained by Messiaen in detailed notes in the published score. The slow, dark melodies of the first movement, Des profondeurs de l’abîme je crie vers toi, Seigneur: Écoute ma voix! (Out of the depths I call to thee, O Lord: hear my voice!), are reminiscent of plainchant and represent the cries of souls in Purgatory. The second movement, Le Christ, ressuscité des morts, ne meurt plus; la mort n’a plus sur lui l’empire (Christ, risen from the dead, no longer dies; death has no dominion over him), is a highly symbolic description of Christ’s resurrection: the theme on cowbells incorporates the Indian rhythms simhavikrama (meaning ‘the power of the lion’) and the vijaya (‘victory’) – this is a reference to Christ’s depiction in Revelation as ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah’ who gained victory over death. This combined rhythm has fifteen matras or beats and is dedicated to the Indian god Shiva, the vanquisher of death and sometimes known as the five-fold god; the five of Shiva multiplied by the three of the Holy Trinity equal the fifteen beats of the simhavikrama.

The third movement, L’heure vient où les morts entendront la voix du Fils de Dieu... (The time comes when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God...), represents the moment when the dead hear the voice of the Son of God. It features the song (heard at the opening of the movement) of the Uirapuru, a bird of the Amazonian jungle, which according to legend is only heard immediately before death. The birdsong sections are interspersed with long silences, chimes, and long, monumentally powerful rolls on the tam tam. The fourth movement, Ils ressusciteront, glorieux, avec un nom nouveau – dans le concert joyeux des étoiles et les acclamations des fils du ciel (They shall rise again in glory, with a new name – in the joyful music of the stars and the acclamations of the sons of heaven), celebrates the rising of the dead, featuring two plainchants from the Easter Mass: the Introit, heard on cowbells and chimes, and the Alleluia played by the trumpets. These, together with the song of the Calandra lark on winds, are played in short sections, interspersed with three strikes of the tam tam, symbolising the call of the Trinity.

The fifth movement, Et j’entendis la voix d’une foule immense... (And I heard the sound of a great crowd...), is a powerful and solemn song of praise, representing the final transcendence of death through the Resurrection.

The work was given its première on 7th May 1965 at La Sainte-Chapelle in Paris conducted by Serge Baudo, with subsequent performances in Chartres Cathedral (attended by Charles de Gaulle himself) and the Théâtre de l’Odéon.

- Program Note from liner notes of Orchestre National de Lyon CD


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY.) Wind Ensemble (Kevin Fitzgerald, conductor) - 13 November 2023
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) - 11 November 2023
  • Manhattan School of Music (N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Kevin Fitzgerald, conductor) – 18 September 2019
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 26 April 2019
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble (Kevin Holzman, conductor) – 31 January 2018
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Scatterday, conductor)- 4 November 2015
  • University of South Carolina (Columbia) Wind Ensemble (Scott Weiss, conductor) – 23 March 2013 (CBDNA 2013 National Conference, Greensboro, N.C.)
  • Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France (Myung-Whun Chung, conductor) – 2011

Works for Winds by This Composer