In and out of exactitude: Jonathan Harvey's 'Tombeau de Messiaen'

Philip Mead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Philip Mead commissioned and first performed 'Tombeau de Messiaen' in 1994. It has since come to be recognised as a classic example of 'musique mixte', being performed by many pianists around the world. This paper explores the work's 'raison d'etre'; its relationship to the piano music of Messiaen, the nature of the piano writing, the nature of the electronic sounds and how they relate one to another; its relationship to his other works; and the many fascinating insights I learned about the work by studying his many sketches, and working closely with the composer in preparation for the first performance. Above all an explanation of what Harvey meant when he said the key to understanding the work was that it moved 'in and out of exactitude'
Original languageEnglish
JournalRevue Francophone Informatique Musicale
Issue number3
Early online date1 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Harvey, piano and electronics, Messiaen


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