Composers: Backward Revolutionary

April, la saison des amours for wild life in France, inevitably brings out the bird watchers. Last week one of the oddest sights in the fields and forests was a stocky, monkish fellow in a Basque beret and rimless glasses, cocking an ear to all the amorous twittering, and furiously scribbling music on manuscript paper clipped to a board. It was French Composer Olivier Messiaen, 58, elder statesman of the far-out realm of 20th century music, gathering new themes for his compositions. "Birds are the greatest musicians," he insists. "You will never...

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