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Olivier

Olivier

[oh-liv-ee-ey]
Le Daim or Le Dain, Olivier, d. 1484, favorite of King Louis XI of France. His original surname was Necker. Beginning as the king's barber and valet, he gained great influence over Louis and became one of the most powerful and feared men in the country. Shortly after the death of Louis, Le Daim's enemies had him tried and hanged.
Olivier, Isaac: see Oliver, Isaac.
Olivier, Laurence Kerr, Baron Olivier of Brighton, 1907-89, English actor, director, and producer. He made his stage debut at Stratford-on-Avon in 1922 and soon achieved renown through his work with the Old Vic company. Noted for his remarkable versatility and striking features, he enjoyed universal admiration for his work in the classics, in modern realistic plays, and in comedy. His films include Wuthering Heights (1939), Rebecca (1940), Pride and Prejudice (1940), Henry V (1944), Richard III (1956), The Entertainer (1960), Othello (1965), and Three Sisters (1970). In 1948 he won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Hamlet in the film that he also produced and directed. In 1962, Olivier was appointed director of the National Theatre of England, which became one of the finest repertory companies in the world. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was a highly prized character actor, appearing in such roles as the Nazi villain in The Marathon Man (1976). Olivier was knighted in 1947 and in 1970 was made a life peer, the first actor to be so honored.

Olivier often costarred on stage and screen with his second wife, Vivien Leigh, 1913-67, a delicate brunette who made a spectacular American film debut in Gone with the Wind (1939), winning the Academy Award. She followed this with Waterloo Bridge (1940), Lady Hamilton (with Olivier as Nelson, 1941), and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), for which she won a second Academy Award.

See F. Barker, The Oliviers (1953); L. Gourlay, ed., Olivier, a collection of memoirs by his friends (1973); Olivier's own disquisition on acting (1986); biographies by A. Holden (1988), H. Vickers (1989), A. Walker (1989), D. Spoto (1992, repr. 2001), and T. Coleman (2005).

Olivier, Sydney Haldane Olivier, 1st Baron, 1859-1943, British colonial administrator. Olivier was one of the first members of the Fabian Society, contributing to the famous Fabian Essays (1889). He was colonial secretary in Jamaica from 1899 to 1904 and later governor of the island (1907-13). In 1924 he was secretary of state for India during Ramsay MacDonald's brief Labour government and was raised to the peerage. A number of his works deal with colonial questions, among them White Capital and Coloured Labour (1906, rev. ed. 1927) and The Anatomy of African Misery (1927).
Basselin, Olivier, 15th cent., French miller of Vire, Normandy. He was one of the Compagnons du Vau de Vire [companions of the Vire valley], who made drinking songs, love songs, and war songs. The oldest surviving collection (1670) of the Vaux de Vire [songs of the Vire], once ascribed to Basselin, was probably the work of Jean Le Houx (d. 1616).
Messiaen, Olivier, 1908-92, French composer and organist, b. Avignon. Messiaen was a pupil of Paul Dukas at the Paris Conservatory. He became organist of La Trinité, Paris, in 1931 and taught at the Schola Cantorum and the École Normale de Musique (1936-39). In 1942 he was appointed professor of harmony at the Paris Conservatory, where he taught such 20th-century figures as Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Messiaen's music is remarkably original and personal, rich in color and texture. It draws from many schools and styles, including electronic and serial music, and is often based on scale formulas of his own invention or on his studies of Asian music and birdsong. His compositions also reflect his profound religious mysticism, which is also expounded in his didactic prose works.

Messiaen's major works include L'Ascension (1933), for orchestra; Apparition de l'Église Éternelle (1932), La Nativité du Seigneur (1935), Le Banquet Céleste (1936), and Les Corps Glorieux (1939), for organ; Quartet for the End of Time (1941), his best-known piece, composed while he was a prisoner of war in Germany (1940-42); Visions de l'Amen (1943), for two pianos; the orchestral Oiseaux Exotiques (1956), Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum (1965), and Des Canyons aux Étoiles (1974); and The Transfiguration (1969), an oratorio. He also wrote masses, songs, and much chamber music. His symphony in 10 movements, Turangalila Symphony (1948), is considered the most grandiose expression of his theories. Messiaen's only opera is the five-hour St. Francis of Assisi (1983). His last major composition, Éclairs sur l'Au-Delà (1992), was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

See his Technique of My Mystical Language (tr. 1957); biography by R. S. Johnson (1975, rev. 1989); studies by C. H. Bell (1984), P. Griffiths (1985), and R. Nichols (1986).

Olivier Messiaen.

(born Dec. 10, 1908, Avignon, France—died April 27, 1992, Clichy, near Paris) French composer. At age 11 he entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he won five first prizes. In 1931 he became principal organist at the church of the Sainte-Trinité, where he would remain for 40 years. He wrote his Quartet for the End of Time in a German POW camp. After the war, he taught at the Conservatoire (1947–78), where his students included Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Iannis Xenakis. His main source of inspiration was his quasi-mystical devout Catholic faith. His love of nature is evident in his many works inspired by birdsong. He also was influenced rhythmically by his study of Indian music, and he systematically explored nontonal harmonic materials. Major works include Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus (1944) and Catalogue d'oiseaux (1958) for piano, La Nativité du Seigneur (1935) for organ, the Turangalǐla-symphonie (1948), Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum (1964), and the opera Saint François d'Assise (1983).

Learn more about Messiaen, Olivier (-Eugène-Prosper-Charles) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Olivier Messiaen.

(born Dec. 10, 1908, Avignon, France—died April 27, 1992, Clichy, near Paris) French composer. At age 11 he entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he won five first prizes. In 1931 he became principal organist at the church of the Sainte-Trinité, where he would remain for 40 years. He wrote his Quartet for the End of Time in a German POW camp. After the war, he taught at the Conservatoire (1947–78), where his students included Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Iannis Xenakis. His main source of inspiration was his quasi-mystical devout Catholic faith. His love of nature is evident in his many works inspired by birdsong. He also was influenced rhythmically by his study of Indian music, and he systematically explored nontonal harmonic materials. Major works include Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus (1944) and Catalogue d'oiseaux (1958) for piano, La Nativité du Seigneur (1935) for organ, the Turangalǐla-symphonie (1948), Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum (1964), and the opera Saint François d'Assise (1983).

Learn more about Messiaen, Olivier (-Eugène-Prosper-Charles) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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