As a passionate composer, organist and ornithologist, many of Olivier Messiaen's works incorporate these three elements. However, he took a different stance for his Thème et Variations for Violin and Piano, composing it as a wedding present for his first wife, Claire Delbos in 1932. The couple gave its first performance during the same year. Admitted to the Paris Conservatoire at the mere age of eleven, Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) was an outstanding pupil, winning many prizes. Thème et Variations was composed shortly after his appointment as titular organist at the Sainte Trinité church in Paris and is often considered to be characteristic of his famous Quatour pour la fin du temps. Made up of a theme and five variations, it begins simplistically before entering the complex variations. The theme is composed in common time and at a moderate tempo. Each variation varies in dynamics, time signature, tempo, tonality and rhythm, among other elements; however, Messiaen cleverly retains suggestions of the theme all throughout. Challenging as it is, Thème et Variations is an exciting, varied and compelling performance piece for all advanced violinists.
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