It was in Paris, during these immediate postwar years, that the last phase of modem music began -- that the last effort to alter music radically, and even to set the art on a new course, had its most conspicuous and decisive origin. Though musical life had continued during the German occupation, the ending of the war was an incentive to breathe again, and then to change the world. In Paris, too, as throughout the previous Nazi empire, liberation made it possible to perform, discuss, and hear music that had been banned for being adventurous or Jewish or, to take the prominent case of Schoenberg, both. The moment, then, was right. And there were the right people to take possession of the moment. Olivier Messiaen ( 1908-92) during these years was composing his largest and most elaborate work so far, the Turangalîla symphony, a composition to crown his earlier achievements and at the same time display new concerns he shared with the young pupils who had gathered around him at the Paris Conservatoire. Pierre Boulez (b. 1925), the most gifted of those pupils, was meanwhile producing the first pieces by which he would wish to be known, graduating from the miniature Notations for piano ( 1945) to the fourmovement Second Piano Sonata ( 1946-8), which brought his early style to a climax of formal sophistication and expressive vehemence. Finally, the year of the sonata's completion also saw the creation by Pierre Schaeffer (b. 1910), working in the studios of Radiodiffusion-Teélévision Franccçaise, of the first essays in musique concréte, music made by transforming recorded sounds and composed not on to paper but on to the heavy black discs of the contemporary gramophone.
Boulez, who studied with Messiaen during the academic year 1944-5, later wrote an appreciation of his teacher which eloquently conveys the atmosphere in which musical revolution was being prepared: 'Names that were all but forbidden, and works of which we knew nothing, were held up for our admiration and were to arouse our intellectual curiosity . . . Africa and Asia showed us that the prerogatives of "tradition" were not confined to any one part of the world, and in our enthusiasm we came to regard music as a way of life rather than an art: we were marked for life.'1____________________