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Couleurs de la Cité Céleste

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Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen

General Info

Year: 1963
Duration: c. 15:00
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Alphonse Leduc
Cost: Parts - Rental   |   Score Only - $59.50


Full Score
Solo Piano
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
D Piccolo Trumpet
C Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Percussion, including:

  • Gongs (4 pitched high to low)
  • Jeux de cencerros (pitched cowbells)
  • Jeu de cloches (chimes)
  • Marimba
  • Tam-Tams (Large, Small)
  • Xylophone
  • Xylorimba


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The work was premiered on October 17, 1964 at the Donaueschingen Festival, Pierre Boulez conducting. The piece is based on the Apocalypse from the biblical book of Revelations.

Revelations 4:3

  • And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.

Revelations 8:6

  • Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.

Revelations 9:1

  • The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.

Revelations 11:11

  • But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them.

Revelations 21:19-20

  • The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

Throughout the work there is a weaving of bird song, chant, and hindu rhythm. This is difficult to trace since the work is published in French (click on the Discussion tab above for more info).


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer